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If aircraft carriers and battleships were the social elite of the nation's naval fleet, Liberty Ships may be best understood as the service industry workers of that fleet. With a primary mission as supply vessels, they would not necessarily be the typical subject of history books describing the great naval battles of World War II. Nonetheless, giving these ships a specific name was a way to honor the recipient whether living or deceased. The names given to the Liberty Ships built in Brunswick were often chosen for their connection to the State of Georgia or even the local region.
What's in a Name?
In this photograph, Hugh F. Aiken, on the left, and Nat M. Campbell on the right, are pictured with a portrait of Thomas Butler King at the launching of the Thomas Butler King Liberty ship. King (1800-1864) had been the owner of Retreat Plantation on St. Simons Island and represented the area in both the Georgia State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. King had been a major supporter of Brunswick's development as a port during his time in office. This role, probably more than any romanticizing of slavery-based plantation life, led to his selection as the namesake for a Liberty Ship.
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