Beautifully engraved certificate from the United States Shipbuilding Company
issued in 1902. This historic document was printed by Franklin-Lee BankNote and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the USS Oregon Battleship out at sea. This item is hand signed by the Company's Vice President and Asst. Treasurer and is over 102 years old.
In 1899, the directors of the Bethlehem Iron Co. formed the Bethlehem Steel Company, a holding company, which immediately leased the properties of the Bethlehem Iron Company. In 1901, Charles Schwab, president of United States Steel Corporation, purchased control of the Bethlehem Steel Company. The Bethlehem Iron Company ceased to exist and Bethlehem Steel took its place. Schwab merged the Bethlehem Steel Company with the newly formed (1902) United States Shipbuilding Company. The shipbuilding company failed and after many lawsuits and a congressional investigation, Schwab organized the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in New Jersey in 1904, to succeed the United States Shipbuilding Company.
The USS OREGON was one of the new fleet of battleships promoted a special board created in 1890 to recommend the manner in which to update the U.S. Navy so that it could defend adequately against the imperial world powers, as well as by the nations of South America (several of which had larger vessels than any in the U.S. Navy). The board realized the need for battleships with a long-range cruising capability. However, many members of the United States Congress were in favor of Isolationism, and opposed long-range battleships as they were obviously not intended strictly for coastal defense. To assuage fears of the Isolationists, the new class of vessels were called "Sea-going coast-line Battleships". The name, an all-covering oxymoron, was thought to be particularly brilliant and useful by Theodore Roosevelt after he became Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy. Three ships were authorized for construction, INDIANA BB-1, MASSACHUSETTS BB-2, and OREGON BB-3, making the OREGON one of the United States' first true battleships. The three ships were authorized on June 30, 1890.