Monday, February 1, 2016
A Speed Trial Scene
This is not a commercial postcard. Some sailor, stationed on an unknown warship, took a photo and had a postcard made up for his own use. What, no patriot act violation? No damage done to national security? No classified image in need of censoring? Hard to believe, but there was a time when soldiers and sailors took pictures and sent them home for all to see.
Here's a fun fact. One of the most influential men in world history was an American naval officer named Alfred Thayer Mahan. Who? Mahan was an instructor at the Untied States Naval Academy at Annapolis. While there, he gave a series of lectures that he latter published as a book called, "The Influence of Sea Power on World History, 1660-1783." Mahan's thesis was that great nations could only exist through sea power. Specifically he cited the British Empire. His book was read and studied all over the world.
One of Thayer's many disciples was Kaiser Wilhelm 2. Germany, as a unified nation, didn't exist before the Franco-Prussian War. The first Kaiser Wilhelm, and his chancellor, Otto von Bismark, saw Germany as a continental power, an industrial nation with an army so large and powerful, that other European countries would think twice before challenging German might. Willy the second read Mahan and dreamed of a large and modern fleet of warships, spanning the globe, acquiring colonies. The British weren't exactly in love with the growing German fleet, so they increased the size and power of their fleet. And, an arms race was on. There were other factors, of course, but the growing distrust between the two nations was one of the causes of World War 1, which, of course, led to World War 2, the rise of the Soviet state, and a whole lot of other problems that we're still dealing with. I'd recommend Dreadnought by Robert K. Massie for far more info than I'm willing to type.
And in the United States. Think naval expansion and the Great White Fleet, sent around the world by President Theodore Roosevelt as a sign of American power. I suspect the ship in this card might have been part of that fleet.