Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

Jan 1.

NOTES FOR 1918

Spent all morning at Attorney Generals.1 Senator Swanson2 present and we discussed how to conserve the Naval [Oil] Reserves and agreed on bill giving the President3 power to take them all over, those in litigation as well as others, and operate them by Secty of the Navy & pay over just & equitable sums to the owners and if they demanded more for them to be allowed to go into the courts. Land office & Int. Dept. manned by Western men who think all lands & oil lands in the West ought to belong to the West and resent the idea that the Fed. Governt has any right to them. This tinges their point of view against the Governt.4

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diaries, Roll 1.

Footnote 1: Thomas W. Gregory.

Footnote 2: Claude A. Swanson, D-Virginia.

Footnote 3: Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 4: Daniels had grown increasingly concerned that the Navy might lose control over its strategic oil reserves in California, the Teapot Dome petroleum field. A native of California, Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane tended to oppose Daniels’ view on this situation, and the matter was also up for discussion in Congress, where Daniels’ view also faced resistance. Despite this opposition, however, Daniels enjoyed strong support from Senator Swanson, Attorney General Gregory, and, ultimately, President Wilson. During the administration of President Warren G. Harding, this reserve came under the control of the Department of the Interior, and oil magnate Harry Sinclair bribed Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall for the right to lease the field, resulting in what became known as the Teapot Dome Scandal. Craig, Josephus Daniels, 379.

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