[Editor: This article, about the visit of the Great White Fleet (US Navy) to Australia in 1908, was published in The Townsville Daily Bulletin (Townsville, Qld.), 20 August 1908.]
Excitement and enthusiasm in Sydney.
Sydney, August 19.
Sydney is astir to-night, and the streets are thronged as on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve. Visitors have poured into the city during the past week and the influx has been exceptionally heavy since Monday. The accommodation of the hotels and boarding-houses is taxed, and those who were tardy in making the necessary provision are glad of resting anywhere and on any terms.
The weather has been ideal for some days past, and promises to be so for the entrance into Port Jackson of the United States battleships. The city decorations have been rushed forward and are now complete. They will make a fine display, and the illuminations promise to be most effective. The Fleet will make the coast about Botany Heads, steam slowly up the coast, and the official entrance into the harbor is timed for 11.30 a.m. to-morrow. Port Jackson will be alive with all kinds of craft — fortunately there is room enough — and the aquatic display should be a memorable one. Thousands upon thousands of spectators will line the cliffs from Botany to the South Head, and many vantage points on the foreshores of the harbor will be crowded. The fleet will receive a welcome probably equal to any accorded it anywhere since leaving New York, and the festivities to follow are likely to tax even an American bluejacket’s capacity for entertainment.
The Sydney press to-morrow will contain the following Commonwealth greeting from the Prime Minister to America:— “Australia’s greeting to the American Fleet entering Port Jackson might have been worthy even of this memorable day, if the late Sir Henry Parkes, president, statesman, and gifted orator, had lived to express for us with his own comprehensive force and fineness of phrase, all that the event suggests and implies. His imagination would have traced the ‘crimson thread of kinship,’ our chief bond of union within the Empire, extending throughout the great Republic whose sailors we welcome as guests and as the honored representatives of a mighty nation, and thrice welcome as blood relations. They come to us across the open ocean always native to our race, to our ancestors, and a way to greatness — a realm most vitally important to the Commonwealth and our descendants. May our cordiality convince our kin that even the giant strength of majestic battleships count for less than the strength of the invisible ties drawing together as States united in affection, in our heritage of freedom, and in humane ideals.”
Mr G. Reid, in his message of welcome, says:— “Australians will receive the men who man those splendid battleships with unbounded enthusiasm, not only the gallant tars, but also those gallant artisans who toil in the hidden caverns of these 16 monsters of the deep. Our welcome is enthusiastic, not because of the giant strength of the great Republic, but because it is a nation of kinsman, and as kinsmen we are proud of this battle fleet, which attests one of the newest and greatest feats in the history of modern times. America has at last resolved to enter the family of nations, not as a benevolent spectator of the troubles or other great powers, but as a strenuous national force, determined to share in fashioning the world’s destinies. Better still, the white wings of the dove of peace hover over the war vessels of the United States, and the people of New South Wales of all creeds and classes join in the national welcome to the men who live beneath the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ We welcome them, and the mighty forces behind them, as champions of the world’s peace, progress, and freedom. In this grand mission they do not stand alone: there is another flag waving beside the Stars and Stripes — a flag that once waved over their ancestors and still flies over us — the Union Jack of our beloved motherland; the flag that braved for a thousand years the battle and the breeze.”
The Townsville Daily Bulletin (Townsville, Qld.), 20 August 1908, p. 7
The Prime Minister referred to in the article is Alfred Deakin (1856-1919).
Alfred Deakin = (1856-1919) Victorian parliamentarian 1879-1900, federal parliamentarian 1901-1913, and the second Prime Minister of Australia (he served for three separate terms as Prime Minister, 1903-1904, 1905-1908, and 1909-1910)
bluejacket = a sailor, especially a junior enlisted sailor (not a warrant officer or commissioned officer) in the British, British Commonwealth, or US navies
cordiality = being cordial (friendly, affectionate, warm in demeanour; hearty; nice)
crimson thread of kinship = a quote from a speech by Henry Parkes (1815-1896), Premier of New South Wales; the speech was given at an inter-colonial conference in support of the federation of the Australasian colonies (1890)
the great Republic = the United States of America
G. Reid = Sir George Reid (1845-1918), leader of the Free Traders in New South Wales, NSW parliamentarian (1880-1901), federal parliamentarian (1901-1909), and the fourth Prime Minister of Australia (1904-1905)
Henry Parkes = Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896), the owner and editor of The Empire newspaper (Sydney), and Premier of New South Wales for five separate terms (1872-1875, 1877, 1878-1883, 1887-1889, 1889-1891)
South Head = the southern headland at the entrance to Sydney Harbour (New South Wales)
Stars and Stripes = the flag of the United States of America; a reference to the United States of America (in the context of the American Civil War, the term may be used in contradistinction to the Confederate States of America)
Star Spangled Banner = the flag of the United States of America; “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the USA (the title of the song refers to the US flag)
tar = (slang) sailor; from the slang term “Jack Tar”; “Jack”, being a British slang term for a sailor, later became “Jack Tar” (also spelt “Jacktar” and “Jack-tar”), the addition of “Tar” was possibly derived from the sailors’ widespread usage of tar to waterproof their clothes, to grease their long ponytails (to avoid them being caught in equipment), and to soak ropes and cables (to prevent rot)
tardy = late (in arrival, happening, or occurrence), delayed, not on time, overdue, unpunctual
thrice = three times, threefold
Union Jack = the national flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
[Editor: Changed “Thousands upon thousans” to “Thousands upon thousands”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]
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