Senator Wesley Jones Statement on American Merchant Marine
“Mr. President, if we are going to have an American merchant marine, we shall have to take advantage of every opportunity we have to get it. I have no doubt about that. I do not blame any other country for doing everything it can to prevent us from establishing ourselves upon the sea. I admire them for it. What I should like to do is to take a leaf out of their book. This is really a new proposition for us. When the war began we had practically no ships under the American flag on the high seas. Practically the only shipping we had was in the coastwise trade, built up under our coastwise laws; and if we had not built up that merchant marine under the coastwise laws, the result of this war might have been far different, because when we got into this war the only ships that we really had available to transport our troops across the seas and carry supplies for them were ships that we really had available to transport our troops across the seas and carry supplies for them were ships taken out of the coastwise trade.
How did Great Britain build up her merchant marine? She built it up by saying that goods from her colonies should not be brought into Great Britain except under the British flag and in British ships. She continued that policy for years and years until she had built up her merchant marine. Then she removed those restrictions. Why we remember in our histories reading about how the colonists were restricted in bringing products into this country. They could not bring them in except in ships flying the British flag, nor could they ship them except in the same way. Why? It was done under a wise and judicious national policy for the building up of a British merchant marine.
Mr. President, we want to build up our merchant marine in the foreign trade, the overseas trade. We had no such merchant marine when the war broke out, but we have a lot of ships now. As the Senator from Minnesota [Mr. Nelson] said, however, ships alone do not make a merchant marine. They must have cargoes, they must have traffic, they must have business, or they will be laid up or sold to foreign countries. Routes must be established and trade developed to maintain them.” Senator Wesley Jones