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Interpreting the Evidence

United States Atlantic Fleet, Dreadnought Delaware Leading

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load United States Atlantic Fleet, Dreadnought Delaware Leading, n.d. in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
The USS Delaware was a dreadnought class ship. Dreadnought ships were the centerpieces of the 1906-1914 naval arms race.
Historical Context
One of the main causes of World War I was militarism.  Militarism is a strong belief in and dedication to expanding a country’s armed forces.  In the years leading up to World War I, many European countries built up their armies to deter attacks from any unfriendly neighbors.  As many European countries were also industrialized, armies grew to tremendous sizes.

At the same time, other nations began expanding their naval forces.  As an island nation, England has traditionally maintained a strong navy to ensure its security.  When Germany began to rapidly expand its navy, England saw this as a threat.  Both countries competed for naval supremacy, and the naval arms race had begun.
Of all the various types of ships produced at the time, the most feared were the dreadnoughts. Dreadnoughts were enormous battleships with large guns that were able to attack and destroy targets from over five miles away.  England and Germany were not the only countries to build such ships.  The USS Delaware, pictured here, is an example of an American dreadnought battleship.
Essential Question
How do advancements in technology contribute to global conflicts?
Check for Understanding
Evaluate the influence of ships like this one on international relations using evidence from the photograph and your knowledge of world history.
Historical Challenges
The United States Navy believed in equipping warships with “all or nothing” in terms of protective armoring. What possible benefits and drawbacks might come from having heavy armor or thin armor?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: A dreadnought battleship like the USS Delaware weighed about 20,000 tons. If the ships are made completely of steel, how many dreadnoughts could shipyards make with 325,000 tons of steel?
Science: If a 12” gun on a dreadnought fires a shell at a velocity of 2,640 feet per second, how long would it take to hit a target 4 miles away?