Chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee
“I favor a navy for this country second to none in power. I do not advocate a navy to rule the waves, but I do believe our country has a tremendous responsibility in helping to preserve the freedom of the seas for peaceful commerce.”
Editor's Note: In December 1931, Vinson became the chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee which was responsible for determining the size and composition of the U.S. Navy. Vinson served as chairman on this committee until 1947 when it merged with the Military Affairs Committee. As chairman, Vinson was integral in strengthening and expanding the navy during a time of significant arms reduction and limitations.
After World War I, the United States signed several treaties such as the Kellogg-Briand Treaty which implemented international limits on armaments in hopes of reducing the outbreak of war. However, in order to encourage further arms reductions, the United States maintained a navy much smaller than what was allowed under these treaties.
Beginning in 1931, his first year as chairman, Vinson strongly advocated that the U.S. Navy be rebuilt and brought up to treaty strength. He firmly believed the United States needed to invest in a strong navy to ensure the defense and security of the nation. The excerpt above is taken from an article Vinson wrote for the Washington Herald laying out his plans for an updated navy.
Vinson continually fought an uphill battle to see these plans become a reality. However, due to his vigilance, from 1931 to 1940 a series of authorization acts successfully built this new navy, one that would be much needed when the United States entered World War II in 1941.