San Diego: Frye & Smith, 1923. First edition. Hardcover. This is an inscribed first edition of the autobiography of a major figure in the development of San Diego, California – William Kettner. This was evidently a presentation copy for a close friend. The recto of the blank leaf preceding the frontispiece is inscribed, somewhat cryptically, in black ink in three lines: “To friend Hugh, | with fond memories of “Ad blubbing" [?] | William Kettner”.
The book is bound in blue buckram, with gilt-stamped print on the front cover and spine, the contents bound with gold and blue head and tail bands, tan endpapers, and untrimmed fore edges. Condition approaches very good, the binding square and sound with minor shelf wear to extremities, the contents with moderate spotting, light and intermittent throughout, prominent only to the first and final leaves.
A democrat, William Kettner (1864-1930) was elected to congress in 1912, serving as a congressman for 8 years. His early defining achievement was appropriating funds from Washington to dredge the San Diego Bay to improve commerce. The bay was too shallow for large ships. This allowed San Diego to become a major facility for the U.S. Navy.
When America’s “Great White Fleet” dropped in San Diego in 1908, Kettner headed the welcome committee. The arrival of the fleet was unprecedented and a harbinger of the future of the U.S. Navy presence in San Diego. During the First World War, all heads turned toward Europe over the Atlantic. However, the war did prompt new considerations about national defense, and in 1917, with the help of then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, Kettner secured appropriations to build a marine base. Eventually America’s naval might was split between both the East and West coasts, creating considerable economic opportunity and growth in San Diego.
The armed forces remain one of the largest employers in San Diego County. Much of this has to do with Kettner, who secured the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Naval Training Center, and Naval Hospital. Many other cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco among them, along the West coast, aggressively lobbied for stations to be built there, but through shrewd politics, Kettner secured these sites for San Diego. His initiatives continue to influence the economics and character of San Diego. Item #007273