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John Lewis Gaddis


Studying shipbuilding politics across time can yield key insights into present-day shipbuilding acquisition reform issues, such as the effects of naval industry consolidation and potential “ally-shoring” of warship production on domestic political support for future naval funding. Past studies of naval acquisitions during the late interwar period often focus on how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Navy Department prepared the nation for the beginning of World War II. However, Congress and the shipbuilding industry played an often-overlooked role in creating the political support needed to expand the Navy during the tumultuous late interwar period. Self-interested domestic interest groups were the essential connectors of the parochial needs of local communities to the country’s domestic national interests and ultimately to the geopolitical situation of the interwar years. The study analyses primary source documents from the FDR Presidential Library and the Congressional Record. The paper also employs novel mapping methods based on shipbuilding data and congressional voting patterns.

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This Article is Open Access