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Image Sheet music cover for 'Columbia! Welcome!', 1908

TLF ID R2856

This is the front cover of the music score for the song 'Columbia! Welcome! A Song of Greeting to the American Fleet', composed by Montague B Younger. The cover shows a line drawing of a US Navy warship, with the Australian and American flags behind. The three-page booklet was published in Sydney by W H Paling and Company in 1908.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset is evidence of one of the many elaborate preparations made to celebrate the arrival of the United States' so-called 'Great White Fleet' to Sydney and Melbourne in August and September 1908 - in the first-ever visit to Australia by a foreign fleet, 16 US battleships (all painted white), commanded by Rear-Admiral Charles Sperry (1847-1911), arrived to huge crowds, processions, receptions, banquets, balls, entertainments, luncheons and concerts, fireworks, a carnival on Sydney Harbour, a torchlight procession and display by local fire brigades, children's demonstrations and even a visit to the Flemington races; the US sailors received such a warm reception that over 300 of them deserted while in the Australian ports.
  • It commemorates the beginnings of what became a very strong Australia-USA alliance in the 20th century - in 1907, then Prime Minister Alfred Deakin (1856-1919) invited the US fleet to visit Australia as part of its two-year worldwide tour, partly to remind Britain that Australia had other friends upon whom it could call, and also to bolster the Australian-USA alliance and ensure more protection for Australia in the Pacific region following Japan's naval victory over Russia.
  • It illustrates the pervasiveness of the so-called 'White Australia' policy and associated societal attitudes of the time - the lyrics of the song include the line: 'We spring from the self same good old stock, so let us grip your hand'; the lyrics indicate that Australia's choice of the USA as an ally (rather than a nearer neighbour such as Japan) was informed by its predominantly white population and its suspicion (shared by Australia) of Britain's formal alliance with non-white Japan.
  • It illustrates the use of the name 'Columbia' to poetically denote the USA - in the early years of the formation of the USA, one of its symbols was the female figure of freedom, Columbia, considered to be the female counterpart of Christopher Columbus; Columbia was depicted with a liberty cap and pole, often with the American stars and stripes on her cap or dress.
  • It is an illustration of the importance and popularity of music scores in the early 1900s - until the invention and popularisation of technologies such as the phonograph and radio, buying sheet music was one of the few ways to experience music without going to concerts or the theatre, and sheet music publishers such as Sydney-based W H Paling and Company were very successful.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: W H Paling and Company
  • Organization: W H Paling and Company
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements