Summary

Postcard commemorating the visit of the American 'Great White Fleet' in 1908. The Australian and American flags are shown drawn back like curtains on either side of the centre of the postcard where a circle encompassing a white ship out at sea and two larger circles, interlocked and encompassing the Australian and American coat of arms can be seen.

The white ship is likely depicting one of the battleships of the American 'Great White Fleet,' so called because they were painted white rather than the standard grey.

The first Australian coat of arms was granted by King Edward VII in May 1908 and it is this coat of arms that is used on the postcard. The 1908 coat of arms consisted of a blue shield encompassing a small shield with a cross of St. George 'defaced' with five white stars. Six smaller shields were also included inside the blue shield, around the large St. George shield. The shield was supported by a Kangaroo and an Emu standing on a grassy mound with the whole surmounted by a Federation star resting on a blue and white wreath. A scroll with the words 'Advance Australia' was unfurled along the base of the arms. The current Australia coat of arms was adopted four years later and was approved by King George V.

The American coat of arms depicted on the postcard is still in use today and was adopted by congress in June 1782. The coat of arms consists of a red and white striped shield with a blue chief supported by a single eagle, shown in flight and grasping a bundle of arrows in its right claw and an olive branch in its left. The eagle has its head turned to the left and clasps a scroll with the words 'E Pluribus Unum' ('Out of many, one') in its beak. Above the eagle's head is a 'glory' with thirteen stars on a blue background. The design was standardised in 1885 when a new die of the Great Seal was cut.

Physical Description

Colour print of the the Australian and American flags drawn back like curtains to show a circle encompassing a ship in the top centre and two larger circles below this, interlocked and encompassing the coat of arms of Australia and America.

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 delievered, 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

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