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Series II. Speeches and Writings, 1864-1931

Identifier: MSC-005- Series II

Content Description

From the Collection:

The papers of Captain Roy Campbell Smith, USN, were presented to the Naval War College in two separate lots: the first accession, composed primarily of U.S. Navy Department official orders, was given in 1941 by Commander Roy C. Smith Jr., his son, and the second accession, comprising the bulk of the collection, was donated through the Naval War College Foundation in 1983 by Mrs. William T. Sampson Smith, his youngest son's widow and second wife.

The papers focus on Roy Campbell Smith's naval career, which spanned the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century. The collection contains documents relating to his early service with the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, R.I., his association with the Naval War College as a staff member over the years, his experiences as a naval attache in F ranee and pre-revolutionary Russia, his participation in the occupation of Vera Cruz in 1914, and his governorship of Guam. In addition, the papers shed light on navy personnel and promotion policies and efforts to reorganize the Navy Department after the turn of the century.

The twenty-four box manuscript collection measures ten linear feet and is divided into four distinct series and is further divided into subseries. Series I, Correspondence, consists of letters both sent and received. It is composed of four subseries: personal, family, official, and miscellaneous correspondence.

Subseries I, personal correspondence, consists mainly of Smith's letters to his wife Margaret, covering a forty year period from 1888 to 1928. His letters reveal the daily routine, assignments, and concerns of a naval officer who spent most of his career away from his family. Since Smith's service spanned an era of technological change and increasing professionalism in the U.S. Navy, his correspondence is important for the insights it brings regarding these developments. Impressions and descriptions of exotic ports gleaned from his many cruises to Europe, the Far East, and South America as well as by gone events: the Spanish-American War and the Battle of Santiago Bay, the 1912 Presidential Naval Review, the cruise of President William Howard Taft to the Canal Zone to inspect the unfinished canal, and the turmoil in revolutionary Mexco come to light from a thorough reading of his missives. In addition, this subseries reveals Smith's interest in civic affairs and family history and genealogy, the latter a life long preoccupation.

Subseries II, family correpondence, contains letters sent to Mrs. Roy C. Smith regarding the presentation of an honorary degree to her father, Rear Admiral William T. Sampson, by Harvard University in 1899 and correspondence between the Smiths and their son, Sampson Smith.

Official correspondence, subseries III, treats mainly with career related matters. It contains Smith's official naval orders dating from 1876 to 1929, along with letters of commendation. Other correspondence deals with various navy promotion and personnel bills, medals, the U.S. Naval Academy, and his numerous publications.

Finally, miscellaneous correspondence, subseries IV, contains material regarding the commission of Smith's father, Dr. Charles H. Smith, as an army surgeon in 1847-1848 and the settlement of the estate of Pliny Sexton, an uncle, in 1927-1928.

Series II, Speeches and Writings, is divided into two subseries: Smith's speeches and writings and those of others. The first sub-series contains speeches on naval tactics and naval attacks on mine fields and coastal fortifications given at the Naval War College and other military institutions. Along with these are a collection of addresses given by Smith on national holidays during his governorship of Guam. For the most part, the bulk of this series contains his articles on such military, naval, and political topics as torpedo boat policy and design, the naval personnel question, battleships, the instantaneous position plotter and course indicator, and Guam. Many of the articles dealing with naval topics appeared in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, while others were published in The North American Review, The Trident, The Independent, and Asia. An account of blockade running during the Civil War by his mother, Maria M. Campbell Smith, and a narrative on the capture of Nanking, China, by Chinese Nationalist unification forces in March 1917 by his son, Lieutenant Commander Roy C. Smith, Jr., are found in subseries II.

Subject files, the third series, is the largest in the collection and reveals Smith's intense patriotism and service loyalty. It contains correspondence, memoranda, addresses, rosters, minutes of meetings, pamphlets, directories, annual circulars, copies of Senate and House resolutions, proposed U.S. bills, notes and reports regarding the Aztec Club of 1847, a society open to descendents of veterans of the Mexican War, and the Society of Cincinnati, open to descendents of Revolutionary War veterans, United States Navy personnel and promotion policies, the flag code of the United States, the Harvard Military and Naval Science course, and the naval station at Guam.

Miscellany, the fourth and last series, is divided into three subseries: Smith family miscellany, naval miscellany, and general interest miscellany. These subseries contain passports, memberships, family wills and estate papers, calling cards, reports, pamphlets, diplomatic and crew lists, journals, books, newspaper clippings, tourist literature, and photographs.


  • Creation: 1864-1931


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.


2.5 boxes

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Naval War College Archives Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US