Strong men for a strong navy
Naval scares, imperial anxieties and naval manhood
in From Jack Tar to Union Jack
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The formation of the British Navy League in 1895 reflected public anxieties about the state of the navy and the stability of the Empire. With a mission to convert the public to navalism, the Navy League targeted the fears of newly enfranchised working men from working-class families. Naval scares awakened the British public to the possibility that British naval supremacy might be illusory and fuelled British anxieties, about the instability of imperial control. In addition to portraying the sea as Britain's imperial highway and the navy as the bulwark of home and empire, navalist discourse propagated images of naval men as rugged but respectable models of imperial manhood. Naval manhood was not only gauged by professionalism, intellect and morality but by an attention to familial responsibilities and domestic life. The navy's heightened profile within society also provided naval men with opportunities to reject older portrayals of 'Jack Tar'.

From Jack Tar to Union Jack

Representing naval manhood in the British Empire, 1870–1918


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