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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Congress



March 30, 1917.



     Among the steps to be taken to insure the public safety, a matter of vital importance to the operations of our fleet and the defense of our coasts should receive the attention of the Congress. Experience has shown that radiotelegraphic stations in private hands have been a serious menace to our neutrality during the last two and one-half years, and, considering the grave possibilities of the immediate future, I cannot too strongly urge that, as a pressing military need, the Congress provide for the immediate operation by the naval and military forces, of all radio stations of possible military value, for the closing of all others which can in any way interfere with naval and military communications or otherwise menace the peace and safety of the nation, and for the purchase of stations not required by private interests for the development of the art of radiotelegraphy, for the training of operators, or for special emergency use where no other means of rapid communication are available.1 The number of stations is increasing and conditions in all important localities are even now intolerable. Authority to operate or close stations on outbreak of war is not sufficient. It has been clearly shown that the needs of commerce can be served by Government stations in times of peace, and the paramount interests of the nation can be safeguarded at all times.

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Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels, Special Correspondence.

Footnote 1: The Navy did take over 59 radio stations once the United States entered the war. See: Executive Order of Woodrow Wilson, 6 April 1917.

Footnote 2: The signature is difficult to decipher, and likely belongs to the transcriptionist who prepared this copy of Daniels’ letter.

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