Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

JULY           MONDAY 23           1917

Senator Nelson1 said a Norwegian ship really belonging to Standard Oil Company, carried oil to certain islands off Norway and supplied Germans. Though it important to look into.

Standard Oil man objected to my fixing prices for carrying oil at $4.25 per Ton “tentative price” Commandeered 10 oil ships.

Two young men with German names wished authority to speak & organize for recruits for the Navy. Naval Intelligence had them under suspicion. We have enough men now in the Navy & I sidestep.

Went to Baker’s office where talked with Pres about G & D. It was painful.2 “I have so many pains—it is like a tooth that hurts—you get pleasure only in pain.” Then Council of National Defense. Shipping Com. wished to know what they were to do. Said their position with Denham as chairman was intolerable. He had asked them in writing to suggest prices for carrying freight to Europe. They asked whether all ships would be commandeered or some. He did not answer—too busy. Part of the friction was due to Denham’s insistence upon just prices

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

Footnote 1: Senator Knute Nelson, R-Minnesota.

Footnote 2: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, President Woodrow Wilson, “G & D,” were Gen. George W. Goethals and William Denham. Goethals was General Manager of the Fleet Corporation and Denham the President of the Fleet Corporation and Chairman of the Shipping Board. Both men were engaged in a power struggle due to that fact that, while the Fleet Corporation by-laws gave contract approval authority to Denham, all other authorities for the management and affairs to the Goethals, who insisted upon having “full authority” over the Fleet Corporation. Their battling came to a head when Denham pushed for wooden ship construction, while Goethals disagreed. Wilson asked for and received their resignations to cease this arguing. William John Williams, Shipbuilding and the Wilson Administration: The Development of Policy, 1914-1917, (PhD diss., University of Washington, 1989), 187-88; Daniels, Cabinet Diaries: 181.

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