The General Board of the United States Navy, more usually known as simply the General Board, was the chief advisory body of the United States Navy during the early twentieth century. It was essentially a naval general staff for the Secretary of the Navy.
The General Board was established in March, 1900 by John D. Long in order to provide the Secretary of the Navy with measures for ensuring the combat preparedness of the fleet, for actively planning for the use of the fleet in times of war and for advising on the future best composition of the naval service.
The order establishing the General Board was General Order No. 544, issued on 13 March, 1900:
A General Board is hereby established to be composed of the following officers: The Admiral of the Navy, the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, the Chief Intelligence Officer and his principal assistant, the President of the Naval War College and his principal assistant, and three other officers of or above the grade of Lieutenant-Commander. Should the principal assistant of the Chief Intelligence Officer, or the principal assistant of the President of the Naval War College, be below the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, an officer or officers of the grade of Lieutenant-Commander or above will be designated to fill such place or places on the board. The purpose of the Department in establishing this board is to insure eflicient preparation of the fleet in case of war and for the naval defence of the coast. The Chief of the Bureau of Navigation will be the custodian of the plans of campaign and war preparations. He will indicate to the War College and Intelligence Office the information required from them by the General Board, and in the absence of the Admiral of the Navy he will preside at the meeting of the board and exercise the functions of President of the Board. The board will meet at least once a month, five of its members constituting a quorum. and two of its sessions every year shall extend over a period of not less than one week each, during which time the board shall meet daily.
The Register does not seem to indicate who was President of the General Board after the first man to hold the office, Admiral of the Fleet George Dewey – men are merely noted as being "Members" of the Board. Perhaps the senior-most man was President.
Dissolved in May 1951.
Dates of appointment given:
- Challener, Richard D. (1973). Admirals, Generals, and American Foreign Policy 1898-1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Kuehn, John T. (2008). Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet That Defeated the Japanese Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
- Miller, Edward S. (1991). War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945. 2007 Paperback ed. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
- Kuehn. Agents of Innovation. pp. 10-11.
- Reproduced in Marine Engineering. April 1900. Vol. 5, No. 4. p. 174.
- Register of Officers, 1909. p. 6.