Information

General G. W. Goethals - History


General G. Goethals

General G. Goethals

George Washington Goethals was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. 29 June 1858, and graduated from the Military Academy in 1880. As a Lt. Col. in the Engineer Corps, he was appointed by President Roosevelt in 1907 chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission, and in that position bore virtually the sole responsibility for the successful completion of the Panama Canal project. General Goethals later served as first civil governor of the Panama Canal Zone, and, after retiring in 1916, was called back to duty to direct the supply and transportation system of the U.S. Army during World War I. Major General Goethals died in New York City 21 January 1928.

(Str: dp. 2,783 (n'); 1. 367'; b. 48'7"; dr. 27'6";
s. 11 k.; a. none)

General G. Goethals was built in 1912 as Granewald by Bremer Vulkan, Vegesack, Germany; taken over by the Cruiser and Transport Force from her owners, the Panama Railroad Steamship Co. of New York. Operated by the Navy under Army account, she commissioned 10 March 1919 at Hoboken, N.J., Lt. Comdr. Edward O. Roberts, USNRF', in command.

General G. Goethals spent the bulk of her commissioned service ferrying vital supplies to France and bringing home veterans of the A.E.F. Leaving New York 2 April 1919 for her first transatlantic voyage, she carried supplies to Bordeaux, France, returning 4 May. Subsequently she made two more voyages to Europe with supplies, and brought home nearly 3,000 troops. On 21 August 1919, General a. w. Goethals sailed from Charleston, S.C., carrying supplies to New Orleans, San Cristobal, Panama, and San Juan, P.R., arriving New York 13 September 1919. On the day of her arrival in New York she decommissioned and was turned over to the War Department for return to her owners.


George W. Goethals was laid down under Maritime Commission contract 7 January 1941 by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company of Pascagoula, Mississippi launched as Pascagoula 23 January 1942 delivered to the Army 18 September 1942 and renamed for the builder of the Panama Canal George W. Goethals.

During World War II George W. Goethals operated as an Army transport out of New York City, Boston, and Gulf Coast ports to ports in North Africa, France, and the United Kingdom. After the war, she continued transatlantic runs carrying military dependents between the United States and Europe.


Hardback - $34.95
ISBN 978-0-7006-2770-7 eBook version available from your favorite eBook retailer

Change and Continuity in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Rory McGovern

Best known for leading the construction of the Panama Canal, George W. Goethals (1858�) also played a key role in the decades-long reform that transformed the American military from a frontier constabulary to the expeditionary force of an ascendant world power. George W. Goethals and the Army is at once the first full account of Goethals’s life and military career in ninety years and an in-depth analysis of the process that defined his generation’s military service—the evolution of the US Army during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

George W. Goethals was a lieutenant and a captain during the post-Reconstruction years of debate about reform and the future of the army. He was a major when the most significant reforms were created, and he helped with their implementation. As a major general during World War I, he directed a significant part of the army’s adaptation, resolving crises in the mobilization effort caused largely by years of internal resistance to reform. Following Goethals’s career and analyzing reform from his unique perspective, military historian Rory McGovern effectively shifts the focus away from the intent and toward the reality of reform—revealing the importance of the interaction between society, institutional structures, and institutional culture in the process. In this analysis, Goethals’s experiences, military thought, managerial philosophy, conceptions of professionalism, and attitude about training and development provide a framework for understanding the army’s institutional culture and his generation’s relative ambivalence about reform.

&ldquoA well-researched account of an important military officer and his career during the historical periods referred to as the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era.&rdquo

&mdashParameters

&ldquoMcGovern’s perceptive and convincing analysis clarifies the realities of reform. Both students and specialists will find George W. Goethals and the Army to be filled with valuable insights into the processes of reform and military transformation.&rdquo

&mdashMichigan War Studies Review

&ldquoWide-ranging, thoroughly researched, and vividly written, George W. Goethals and the Army offers a sophisticated analysis that illuminates both George Goethals and the US Army in an era of dramatic change. In the process of writing the definitive biography of this fascinating figure, Rory McGovern also skillfully challenges long-held assumptions about military professionalism.&rdquo

&mdashJ. P. Clark, author of Preparing for War: The Emergence of the Modern U.S. Army, 1815�

&ldquoWell-researched and elegantly written, this study analyzes the professionalization and modernization of the US Army, but it does much more. It speaks to the nature of American society in the Gilded Age and on the cusp of global power. Military historians will find much of value here, but so, too, will scholars of the industrial and progressive ages.&rdquo

&mdashMichael S. Neiberg, author of Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America

In its portrait of an officer whose career bridged the distance between military generations, George W. Goethals and the Army also offers a compelling and complex interpretation of American military reform during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era—and valuable insight into the larger dynamics of institutional change that are as relevant today as they were a century ago.

About the Author

Rory McGovern holds a PhD in history from UNC Chapel Hill and is a major in the United States Army. He has served in tactical, operational, and institutional capacities, including two combat tours in Iraq and an assignment as an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy at West Point.


Goethals, George W.

Goethals, George W. (1858�), U.S. Army engineer and builder of the Panama Canal.Born in Brooklyn on 29 June 1858, Goethals graduated second in his West Point class in 1880, and went on to achieve what William Tecumseh Sherman predicted would be a 𠇋rilliant future.” Early in his career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he worked on lock and dam projects that later served him well in Panama. More engineer than soldier, Goethals viewed the military simply as a vehicle through which he could express his talent.

On President Theodore Roosevelt's order, Goethals was appointed chief engineer of the Panama Canal in 1907 when John F. Stevens resigned because of the difficulties in the first three years of construction. Goethals supervised nearly all major excavation and all construction. He vastly expanded the proposed canal's size, taking into account U.S. Navy preferences for access, passage, and defense. To oversee the building of immense locks and dams, Goethals brought in army and civilian engineers who had distinguished themselves in similar work. He then set the two groups to work on opposite sides of the canal, expectant that professional rivalry would encourage speed and excellence.

Goethals's responsibilities at Panama extended well beyond construction. He organized a strictly regimented social order, with engineers and designers at the top and workers at the bottom. Each lived in separate communities with separate amenities, with a court system adjudicated by Goethals himself. Goethals had the ability to manage an incredibly diverse number of workers. He completed the canal in 1914, having done the job under budget and ahead of schedule, and still operating with most of the original construction equipment. General Goethals served as governor of the Canal Zone (1914�) and then with the War Department's supply agencies in World War I.

Joseph B. Bishop , Goethals, Genius of the Panama Canal: A Biography , 1930.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

"Goethals, George W. ." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Jun. 2021 < https://www.encyclopedia.com > .

"Goethals, George W. ." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved June 19, 2021 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/goethals-george-w

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.


--> Goethals, George W. (George Washington), 1858-1928

Born in 1858 in Brooklyn, New York, Goethals graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1880. Goethals was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1907 when he was appointed chief engineer for the construction of the Panama Canal.. Under his management construction was completed in 1914, about one year early.

From the guide to the George Washington Goethals Letter MSS. 0575., 1918 March 27, (University Libraries Division of Special Collections, The University of Alabama)

Army engineer and constructor of the Panama Canal Zone.

From the description of Letter, 1918. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 41418136

American Army officer and engineer, who was chief engineer on the construction of the Panama Canal (1907-1914) and later became governor of the Canal Zone (1914-1917). During World War I he worked in the Quartermaster's Dept.

From the description of George Washington Goethals microfilm collection, 1901-1915 [microform]. 1970. (US Army, Mil Hist Institute). WorldCat record id: 22740075

Governor of the Canal Zone, army officer, and engineer.

From the description of Papers of George W. Goethals, circa 1890-1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71067689

Goethals was an alumnus of City College, Class of 1877.

From the description of Papers, 1913-1928. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155502756

  • 1858, 29 June : Born, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • 1880 : Graduated, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1880 - 1882 : Student officer, Engineering School of Application, Willetts Point, N.Y.
  • 1882 - 1884 : Engineer officer, Department of Columbia
  • 1884 : Married Effie Rodman
  • 1884 - 1885 : Engineer officer, improvements on the Ohio River for navigation
  • 1885 - 1889 : Instructor and assistant professor of civil and military engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1889 - 1894 : Engineer officer, improvements on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and in charge of completion of the Muscle Shoals Canal and construction of the Colbert Shoals Lock
  • 1894 - 1898 : Assistant to chief of engineers, United States Army
  • 1898 : Chief engineer, First United States Army Corps, and campaign in Puerto Rico
  • 1898 - 1900 : Professor of practical military engineering, United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
  • 1900 - 1905 : Engineer officer in charge of river and harbor works, Bolck Island to Nantucket, and the fortifications of Narragansett Bay and New Bedford, Mass.
  • 1903 - 1907 : Member, General Staff, United States Army
  • 1905 :
  • Graduated, United States Army War College Accompanied Secretary of War William H. Taft on an inspection trip to the Isthmus of Panama
  • 1907 :
  • Promoted to lieutenant colonel, United States Army Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as chairman and chief engineer, Isthmian Canal Commission
  • 1907 - 1914 : Chief engineer, construction of the Panama Canal
  • 1909 : Promoted to colonel, United States Army
  • 1911 : Appointed member of a Joint Board of Officers of the Army and Navy to make a report upon defenses for the Panama Canal
  • 1914 - 1917 : Governor, Panama Canal Zone
  • 1915 : Promoted to major general, United States Army
  • 1916 : Chairman of the board appointed to report on the Adamson Eight-Hour Law
  • 1917 :
  • General manager, United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp. Acting quartermaster general, United States Army
  • 1918 :
  • Chief, Division of Storage and Traffic of the General Staff, United States Army Chief, Division of Purchase, Storage and Traffic United States Army
  • 1918 : Awarded Distinguished Service Medal for meritorious service in reorganizing the Quartermaster Department, United States Army
  • 1919 - 1923 : President and head engineer, George W. Goethals and Co., New York, N.Y.
  • 1923 : Fuel administrator of New York during Anthracite coal strike
  • 1923 - 1928 : Consulting engineer on projects such as Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, La. Columbia Basin Irrigation Project East Bay Municipal Utility District of Oakland, Calif and Lake Worth Inlet District in Florida. Served New York-Jersey Port and Harbor Commission (later Port of New York Authority) as chief consulting engineer
  • 1928, Jan. 21 : Died, New York, N.Y.

From the guide to the George W. Goethals Papers, 1890-1954, (bulk 1907-1927), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


General G. W. Goethals - History

General G.W. Goethals , a 4707 gross ton passenger-cargo ship, was built at Hamburg, Germany, in 1911 as the German commercial steamer Grunewald . Later becoming a U.S. flag merchantman, she was taken over by the Navy in March 1919 and placed in commission as USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443). As a troop transport assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force, she was employed carrying U.S. service personnel home from France and taking cargo to Europe. The ship made three round-trip trans-Atlantic voyages for these purposes between April and August 1919, then carried supplies from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, Caribbean and Panama. Decommissioned upon her return to New York in mid-September 1919, General G.W. Goethals was returned to her owner, the Panama Railroad Steamship Company.

This page features all available views concerning the S.S. General G.W. Goethals and USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443).

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

General G.W. Goethals (American Passenger-Cargo Steamer, 1911)

In port, circa 1917-1919, with the barge Ethel & Lillian alongside.
Originally the German ship Grunewald , this ship served as USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443) from March into September 1919.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 79KB 740 x 480 pixels

USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443)

In an American port circa mid-1919 while bringing troops home from Europe.
The reverse side of this post card dated 10 June 1919 on which the writer calls the ship a "tub" may be seen here.

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, circa 2013.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

The ship seen in the following photograph is probably USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443):

USS General G.W. Goethals (ID # 1443)
(probable identification)

Off Newport News, Virginia, in 1919.
Photographed by Holladay, Newport News, Va.
This image is cropped from Photo # NH 104731


General G. W. Goethals - History

An Army name retained. George W. Goethals , see General G. W. Goethals .

(T-AP - 182: dp. 10,418 l. 489' b. 69'6" dr. 27'4" s. 16.5 k. trp. 1,976 a. none T. C3-IN P & C )

George W Goethals (T-AP-182) was laid down under Maritime Commission contract 7 January 1941 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp., Pascagoula, Miss. launched as Pascagoula 23 January 1942 sponsored by Mrs. Hermes F. Cautier delivered to the Army 18 September 1942 and renamed George W. Goethals .

During World War II George W Goethals operated as an Army transport out of New York, Boston, and Gulf Coast ports to ports in North Africa, France, and the United Kingdom. After the war, she continued transatlantic runs carrying military dependents between the United States and Europe.

Acquired by the Navy 1 March 1950, the transport was assigned to MSTS. Manned by a civilian crew, George W. Goethals continued trooplift and passenger voyages out of New York. During the Korean conflict she helped to maintain American military strength in Europe and the Middle East. Transporting troops and military cargo, she steamed to England, Germany, North Africa, Italy, Greece, and Turkey during European and Mediterranean deployments. In addition, she rotated troops to American bases in the Caribbean. In 1953, for example, she completed 12 round-trip voyages out of New York to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Canal Zone.


George Washington Goethals

George Washington Goethals was a United States Army Engineer appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as the chief engineer of the Panama Canal when John F. Stevens resigned in 1907. Goethals took a special interest in the employees working under him, which he was to be well known for, and created an atmosphere of cooperation on the project. His engineering and people skills helped him complete the Panama Canal six months ahead of schedule in 1914. Goethals remained at the Canal from 1914 to 1916 as governor of the Canal Zone.

Born on June 29, 1858, in Brooklyn, New York, Goethals was described as a quiet, slow-moving boy. He was a serious child who spent much of his youth planning his future. He worked after school to save money for college and attended the College of the City of New York. He later entered the Military Academy at West Point in 1876. Goethals graduated from West Point in 1880 as a second lieutenant and served in the Corps of Engineers. Four years after his graduation Goethals married Effie Rodman and they had two sons.

Before his work on the Panama Canal, Goethals gained practical experience building dams, bridges, and locks on rivers like the Ohio and the Tennessee. He served as an instructor and taught at West Point, employing his valuable field experiences. Goethals gained a reputation as a highly skilled and qualified engineer.

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) appointed Goethals to the position of chairman and chief engineer of the Panama Canal project. This followed the resignation of two other engineers. At the beginning of the following year, he took complete control of the construction of the Canal. Goethals faced an enormous task complicated by technical problems and problems associated with coordinating the activities of 30,000 workers depleted by bouts of malaria and yellow fever. Goethals maintained a hands-on knowledge of the day-to-day construction of the Canal by visiting construction sights in person, and by holding informal sessions with his men every Sunday to work out problems with the crew. The Canal was completed six months ahead of schedule and opened for traffic in 1914. Goethals remained at the Canal to act as the governor of the Canal Zone from 1914 to 1916.

The Panama Canal is regarded as one of the world's most important and spectacular engineering feats. It links the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and extends 51 miles (82 km) from Limón Bay on the Atlantic to the Bay of Panama on the Pacific. The Canal shortened the ocean voyage between New York and San Francisco to less than 5,200 miles (8,367 km) from 13,000 miles (20,917 km). An important commercial and military waterway, approximately 13,500 ships pass through it a year carrying 220 million short tons (200 million metric tons) of cargo. Most of the traffic is to or from American ports, but other countries such as Canada and Japan frequently use the Canal as well. The Canal was a significant waterway during the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, with large amounts of equipment and troops passing through it. While the Panama Canal has often been a source of trouble between the Americans and Panamanians, it has inspired the imaginations of many and has demonstrated the amazing reach of human innovation.

George Washington Goethals enjoyed a long and distinguished career that extended past his achievements at the Panama Canal. He served as quartermaster general during the First World War, as director of purchase, storage, and traffic and as assistant chief of staff in charge of supplies. President of the engineering firm George W. Goethals and Company, from 1919 to 1928, Goethals continued to work in the field of engineering. He was also a consultant for many engineering organizations and on projects such as the Port of New York. Goethals died on January 21, 1928.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.


USS General G. W. Goethals (ID-1443)

USS General G. W. Goethals (ID-1443) was a United States Navy cargo ship and troop transport in commission in 1919.

General G. W. Goethals was built in 1911 Α] or 1912 Β] as the German commercial passenger-cargo ship SS Grunewald at Vegesack, Germany, by Bremer Vulkan. Before the United States entered World War I, she became an American ship owned by the Panama Railroad Steamship Company of New York City. The U.S. Navy acquired her on 10 March 1919, assigned her the naval registry Identification Number (Id. No.) 1443, and commissioned her the same day at Hoboken, New Jersey, as USS General G. W. Goethals with Lieutenant Commander Edward O. Roberts, USNRF, in command.

A ship identified as probably USS General G. W. Goethals off Newport News, Virginia, in 1919.

Assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force and operated by the Navy under a United States Army account, General G. W. Goethals spent the bulk of her commissioned Navy service ferrying supplies for American forces in Europe to France and bringing home troops of the American Expeditionary Force who had served in Europe during World War I. Leaving New York City on 2 April 1919 for her first transatlantic voyage, she carried supplies to Bordeaux, France, returning to the United States on 4 May 1919. Subsequently she made two more voyages to Europe with supplies, and brought home nearly 3,000 troops.

On 21 August 1919, General G. W. Goethals departed Charleston, South Carolina, carrying supplies to New Orleans, Louisiana Cristóbal, Panama Canal Zone and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She completed this voyage by arriving at New York City on 13 September 1919.

On the day of her arrival in New York, General G. W. Goethals was decommissioned and turned over to the United States Department of War for return to the Panama Railroad Steamship Company.

The ship returned to commercial service as SS General G. W. Goethals. On 10 January 1925, the Panama Railroad Steamship Company sold her to the Universal Negro Improvement Association.


George Washington Goethals

Successfully to accomplish any task it is necessary not only that you should give it the best that there is in you, but that you should obtain for it the best there is in those under your guidance. "
George Washington Goethals

The most famous engineer coming from CCNY during its the early years was George Washington Goethals. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 29, 1858, the son of Flemish immigrants John and Marie Baron Goethals, he entered the College of the City of New York at age 14 to study civil engineering, and after three years won an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating second in his class. In 1880 he was commissioned as second lieutenant in the Army Corp of Engineers.

The name Goethals will be recorded in history as the man who accomplished one of the greatest feats of engineering and construction since the Egyptians completed the mighty pyramids - the construction of the Panama Canal. With its opening in 1914 it revolutionized trade and travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific – and it stands today as a monument to humankind’s ingenuity and indomitable spirit.

George Goethals was no stranger to public service. During the Spanish-American War Goethals served as Chief of Engineers in the Volunteer Army, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was later placed in charge of the Muscle Shoals canal construction on the Tennessee River and also built canals near Chattanooga, Tennessee and at Colbert Shoals, Alabama.

On March 4, 1907, Goethals was appointed by President Roosevelt Chairman and Chief Engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission. He served in that position until completion of Canal construction in 1914. He then served as Governor of the Panama Canal until his resignation January 17, 1917.

s Chief Engineer, Goethals faced many daunting tasks. Aside from the task of eliminating disease, Goethals was faced by many unique problems, any one which was a stupendous work in itself. The first of these was the cutting down to a much lower level several good-sized mountains near the center of the Isthmus in order to minimize the elevation of the canal itself. The second mightiest feat was the damming of the powerful and erratic Chagres River with the Gatun Dam and the formation of Gatun Lake. The third was the building of the huge concrete locks with filling and emptying systems and great steel gates with opening and closing devices. The plans were revised many times, and the chief engineer himself spent many sleepless nights working out the complicated calculations. But finally the job was done, and in 1915 General Goethals received the thanks of U.S. Congress "for distinguished service in constructing the Panama Canal."

From 1919 to 1928 Goethals was President of George W. Goethals and Company, a New York engineering firm and Advisor and Consulting Engineer to the Port Authority of New York. Named in his honor, one of the first structures built by the Port Authority was the Goethals Bridge, spanning Staten Island and Elizabeth, New Jersey, which opened to traffic in 1928.

Of course, City College also honored it famous student. In 1930, Goethals Hall was opened on North Campus, where it housed the then School of Technology for the following 30 years.


Watch the video: West Point Material Culture Series: George W. Goethals and the Panama Canal (January 2022).