Carl Vinson


Public life

Occupation 1



NA/South & Gulf region


Maritime Nation To 1950 (1921-1950)








U.S. congressman�

He worked with Franklin D. Roosevelt when the latter served as assistant secretary of the navy� Representative Vinson and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt arrived in Washington, D.C., at about the same time, and both became identified as "big navy men." In 1932 Roosevelt was elected president, and Vinson became chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee� When President Roosevelt proposed that the navy budget be cut, Vinson took the opposite position�

Vinson reasoned that maintaining the shipbuilding industry in the United States was crucial in the event of war. Furthermore, since approximately 85 percent of shipbuilding costs went into labor, many jobs could be provided for American workers under his proposals. This proved an important argument when, in 1933, the nation was burdened with a 24.9 percent unemployment rate. He fought the movement in 1934 to reduce naval appropriations by 5 percent and instead announced that he would introduce legislation to bring the navy up to the London Treaty ceilings because of the threatening international situation. He argued that the costs for rebuilding would be relatively small. A reluctant Roosevelt granted $238 million to the navy through the National Industrial Recovery Act.

In 1934 Vinson sponsored the Vinson-Trammel Bill, which was designed to build the navy up to treaty strength. It authorized the building of one 15,000-ton aircraft carrier, 99,200 aggregate tons of destroyers, and 35,000 tons of submarines at an estimated cost of $660 million distributed over eight years� President Roosevelt, responsive in part to the peace lobby's desire for disarmament, announced his intention in 1937 to delay plans for building two replacement battleships. Vinson argued that these ships were necessary. He informed his colleagues that the United States had not built a single battleship since 1922 and had already exceeded its limit in reaching disarmament. Congress approved construction of the vessels.

In 1938 Vinson asked for a 20 percent tonnage increase above treaty limits, and the second Vinson Naval Expansion Bill was passed. As World War II approached Vinson advocated a two-ocean navy. Through his committee he fought long and hard for a powerful navy and the principle of military preparedness. In 1939 he supported the Navy Aviation Bill and spoke for the improvement of aviation facilities on Guam� As chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee he proposed the expenditure of $3.5 billion for naval supplies and advanced legislation to raise naval enlistments�

Vinson served as chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs in the Seventy-second through the Seventy-ninth Congresses. The Republican-controlled Eightieth Congress reorganized committees. When Democrats regained the House majority in the 1948 elections, Vinson became chairman of the newly formed Armed Services Committee� On 15 March 1980 Vinson was present at Newport News, Virginia, when a $2 billion nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was launched in his honor. The USS Carl Vinson was the first major navy ship named after a living American� Vinson died in Milledgeville.

Related Images

external image carlvinson.gif