The United States Navy expanded greatly under Theodore Roosevelt. From the time he was Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt envisioned a powerful Navy protecting the United States from aggressive nations and enforcing United States policies abroad. Francis John Higginson (1843-1931) commanded one of the first true United States battleships, the USS Massachusetts. Commissioned in 1898, the Massachusetts played an important part in the Spanish-American War. The Massachusetts participated in the blockade on Cuba and remained for peacekeeping duty in Puerto Rico until August 1898. Higginson was promoted to rear admiral in 1899. He wore these gilded naval shoulder decorations on each shoulder as a sign of rank toward the end of his long and successful naval career.