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Vinson, Carl

Vinson, Carl (1883–1981), Chair, House Naval Affairs Committee and Armed Services Committee.A rural Georgia lawyer and Democrat, Vinson was elected to the House of Representatives in 1914. He was appointed to the House Naval Affairs Committee in his first term, and throughout his fifty‐year career in the House, he would remain an advocate of strong military defense. In 1931, Vinson became chair of the committee and worked, with the support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for naval expansion. The Vinson‐Trammel Act (1934) authorized construction of 102 warships. The Naval Act (1938) provided for a ten‐year, $1.1 billion building program, including all categories of ships, and a doubling of the U.S. Navy's airplanes. In July 1940, Vinson won an emergency “Two Ocean Navy” act, doubling the size of the combat fleet and including the new fast carriers and battleships that would begin to join the fleet in 1943. During World War II, Vinson sponsored bills to curb strikes in defense industries and called for a ban on employment in those industries for anyone suspected of un‐American activities.

Vinson remained head of the Naval Affairs Committee until 1947, and from 1949 to his retirement in 1964, he chaired the House Armed Services Committee, a strong advocate of national defense and containment of communism. A stern taskmaster and skillful legislator, Vinson lost only three floor fights on bills reported by his committee between 1940 and 1964. The navy named a nuclear carrier after him.
[See also Navy, U.S.: 1899–1945; Navy, U.S.: 1946 to the Present.]

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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