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The Vinson‐Trammel Act

The Vinson‐Trammel Act (1934), cosponsored by Georgia Democrat Carl Vinson, chair of the House Naval Affairs Committee, was part of the naval expansion program of the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.Elected in 1932, ten years after the Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty, Roosevelt issued an executive order in 1933 allowing $238 million in emergency public works funds to be used to build thirty‐two warships over the next three years. Undeterred by critics' accusations that the United States was initiating another naval arms race, Vinson crafted the Vinson‐Trammel Naval Act of 1934, which authorized the navy to construct 102 new warships over the next eight years. This would bring the U.S. Navy up to the full strength authorized by the treaty. By 1937, the year after Japan renounced any treaty limitations, the U.S. Navy had under construction three new aircraft carriers, ten cruisers, forty‐one destroyers, and fifteen submarines, most of which would join the fleet at the end of the decade. By 1939, the United States had fifteen battleships, the Japanese ten, but Japan had six aircraft carriers compared to five in the U.S. Navy. Congress authorized further naval construction in 1938 and 1940.
[See also Navy, U.S.: 1899–1945.]

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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