Summary

Postcard commemorating the visit of the American 'Great White Fleet' in 1908. Although postcards were printed in all states to commemorate the visit, there were two distinct designs - one from Victoria and the other from New South Wales. This postcard is of the Victorian design and depicts the Melbourne GPO on one side and the national flags of Australia and America crossed on the other. This design was created by Melbourne artist Basil F. Magnus.

The postcard was sent from an unknown sender in Melbourne to an equally unknown (due to illegibility) recipient in Adelaide. The name of the recipient has been crossed out and the name 'Beth Kent' inserted instead. It is unclear why the change occurred, although it is possible that the change indicates that the postcard was sent to the wrong person or address.

Physical Description

One one side of the postcard there is a black and white print of a large building identified as the 'General / Post Office / Melbourne' along with a hand-written address. On the other side of the postcard is a colour print of two crossed flags accompanied by a hand-written message.

Significance

Prime Minister Alfred Deakin ignored Britain's concerns and established protocol when he invited the American fleet to visit. Sixteen warships arrived in Sydney harbour, welcomed by 80,000 spectators. Speeches were delivered, parties thrown and parades marched in honour of the occasion. As the fleet moved from port to port the welcome remained wildly enthusiastic. The visit was publicly associated with Australia's self-perception as a strong 'white' nation, 'free and clean'. -Forging the Nation: Australian War Memorial web site http://www.awm.gov.au/forging/.

'As a friendly hand across the Pacific comes to Australia - the Great White Fleet. In a flashing white it comes, as it were a symbol of a racial ideal to be upheld…Australia aspires but to hold her territory free and clean, in trust for the White Race. America's Pacific fleet helps to give us heart to hope that that ideal may be preserved.' - The Lone Hand

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Public Life & Institutions

  • Acquisition Information

    Purchase

  • Place & Date Sent

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1908

  • Addressed To

    Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 1908
    Name of recipient is illegible and has been crossed out, with the name 'Beth Kent' inserted instead.

  • Inscriptions

    Printed in grey ink on the side of the postcard with the address: 'General / Post Office / Melbourne' Hand-written in black ink on the GPO side of the postcard and crossed out in pencil: 'Mrs. F (illeg.)' Hand-written in pencil underneath the above inscription: 'Beth Kent' Hand-written in black ink and following on from the crossed out inscription: 'Terrace / Kent Town / Adelaide (underlined)' Printed in brown ink on the other side of the postcard: '1908. / Australia greets America' Hand-written on the same side as above: 'Melbourne Apl. 4th 08. / Many thanks for 2 Postcards / received this morning / glad all is well / Nothing special to / write from here. - / Have my (illeg.) / (illeg.) for (illeg.) / (illeg.) and hope / to be with you the / (illeg.) morning! / Love to you & boys / (illeg.)'

  • Classification

    Public events, Us fleet visit, 1925, Souvenirs

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline

    History

  • Type of item

    Document

  • Postcard

    143 mm (Width), 94 mm (Height)

  • References

    'The Great White Fleet,' Department of the Navy -- Naval History and Heritage Command, at: [Link 1] accessed: June 8, 2012

  • Keywords

    Postcards, American Military Forces, Australian Art, Great White Fleet