The Washington Naval Treaties

  • Thomas H. Buckley


On November 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided at a colorful ceremony in Arlington Cemetery at the burial of America’s Unknown Soldier. The next day the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments began. Harding welcomed the delegates and pointed out that the hopes of the world centered on Washington. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, most expected, would make the same type of general welcoming address, but midway through his speech Hughes sternly called for the end of constant talking about disarmament and asked for action. He startled the delegates, and indeed the world, by listing 845,740 tons of warships (fifteen capital ships under construction and fifteen other battleships) that the United States would stop construction on or scrap. One can imagine the short-lived delight of the Japanese and the British. Hughes next asked the British to stop construction on 583,000 tons of capital ships (four ships under construction and nineteen existing ones). One British admiral leaned forward in his chair in the “manner of a bulldog, sleeping on a sunny doorstep, who had been poked in the stomach by the unwary foot of a traveling salesman seriously lacking in any sense of the most ordinary proprieties or considerations of personal safety.”1


Public Opinion American Foreign Policy Ratification Process Congressional Record Naval Officer 
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Selected Bibliography


  1. Braisted, William R. The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909–1922. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  2. Buckley, Thomas H. The United States and the Washington Conference, 1921–1922. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1970.Google Scholar
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  5. Coletta, Paolo E., ed. American Secretaries of the Navy. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1980.Google Scholar
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  13. Kaufman, Robert Gordon. Arms Control During the Pre-Nuclear Era: The United States and Naval Limitation Between the Two World Wars. New York: Columbia University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
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Government Publications

  1. U.S. Congress. Congressional Record. Washington, D.C., 1919–1921.Google Scholar
  2. U.S. Congress. Congressional Record. Washington, D.C., 1921–1923.Google Scholar
  3. U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1921. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1936.Google Scholar
  4. U.S. Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1922. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1938.Google Scholar
  5. —. Conference on the Limitation of Armament, 1921–22. Washington,D.C.: GPO, 1922.Google Scholar
  6. —. Conference on the Limitation of Armament, 1921–1922: Subcommittees. Washington, D.C: GPO, 1922.Google Scholar

Unpublished Works

  1. Goldman, Emily Oppenheimer. “The Washington Treaty System: Arms Racing and Arms Control in the Interwar Period.” Ph.D diss., Stanford University, 1989.Google Scholar
  2. Powers, Thomas Lynwood. “The United States Army and the Washington Conference, 1921–1922.” Ph.D diss., University of Georgia, 1978.Google Scholar
  3. Rainbolt, Rosemary. “Arms Reduction versus Arms Modernization: U.S. Nongovernmental Organizations and Arms Conferences, 1920–1935.” Ph.D diss., Carnegie-Mellon University, 1988.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry L. Stimson Center 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas H. Buckley

There are no affiliations available

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