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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Albert Shaw, Editor-in-Chief, American Review of Reviews

March 12, 1918


Dear Mr. Shaw:

          I have your letter of the 7th of March, and am gratified to know that you are pleased with what the Navy is doing.1

          I wish it were permissible to give all the details of what we have done, what we are doing, what we have planned and of what we are planning to do, but for the present am constrained to deal with generalities.

          Our experts on the many and intricate phases of the naval side of the war are studiously working in the closest cooperation, both among themselves and with the leading men of our allies, with whom there has been a particularly frank and free interchange of naval and technical information. Hence, our course of action is guided by the dictates of the best intelligence on matters naval at our command. As I said in my report, “not only as to broad policies but also with respect to details of construction and tactics are we in close touch” with our allies, and it is upon the conclusions reached from these cooperative studies and interchanges of information and views that our estimates and proposals find origin.

          The preeminent need in the Navy is for the destroyer and other small craft and the preeminent need for carrying troops to France and getting supplies to them is for merchant ships. Consequently, every facility in the country that may be employed in the construction of these types of vessels should be free to be utilized to the fullest extent and for this reason I have not asked for appropriations to begin work on the vessels of the three-year program remaining to be initially appropriated for. It has not been practicable to begin the construction of some of the larger vessels of the program under the provisions of the Naval Act approved the 4th of last month.2 All energy is bent upon providing craft of the type I have mentioned and not until all ways are no longer required for them would it seem proper to lay down vessels which take from three to four years to place in commission. I am keenly desirous of completing the three-year program. It will be a big step toward “incomparably the strongest Navy in the world”, which is the goal established by the President,3 and if any opening to commence the vessels embraced thereby not yet started arises I am not going to let the opportunity pass. We have sufficient money available to commence operations on all of them and in my hearings I asked that authority be given in the forthcoming Naval Bill to go ahead on any or all of them with the balance remaining should the way become clear.

          Thus far the appropriations I have recommended in the next Bill total $1,364,638,624.04. Of this sum $212,488,000 is definitely set aside toward the completion of vessels under construction and $100,000,000 mainly is to go toward the construction of additional destroyers and other small craft. Previous appropriations for new construction since our participation in the war, including the money made available in the Act of March 4, 1917, amount, in all, to $535,107,070.

          I have recommended an appropriation of $188,042,969 for aviation, for which purpose $56,000,000 has already been provided since the declaration of war. For Ordnance purposes the recommendations total $135,884,188.50. For this purpose there has been provided, including fifteen and one-half millions in the pending urgent deficiency bill and including the appropriations in the Act of March 4, 1917, $409,862,243.50, besides an authorization in the pending urgent deficiency bill to incur obligations in excess of appropriations to the extent of $34,264,000. The remaining sum convers the operation of the Naval Establishment, afloat and ashore, including all expenses incident to personnel and further generous provision for public works.

          The enormity of naval credits, made and pending, since war became eminent, and I will not go back of March 4, 1917, may be better realized by stating that they total $3,023,693, 155. 49 as compared with the total $3,023,693, 155.49 as compared with the total expenditures of the Navy from 1794 to 1916, inclusive (122 years), which amount to $3,367,160,591.77.

          I have recommended a further increase in the enlisted strength of the Navy for the period of the war to 180,000 men, exclusive of apprentice seamen, men under training in tradeschools and men for aviation, and a further increase in the Marine Corps to 50,000 men. The Navy and Marine Corps, which a year ago had a total enlisted strength of about 67,000, now constitute, without the increase I have recently recommended, a force of more that a quarter of a million men. This, ofcourse, includes naval reserves, hospital corpsmen, national naval volunteers, the naval militia and the coast guard, which is a part of the Navy for the war.

          Much credit for what has been accomplished is due Congress. It has voted liberal appropriations and passed much needed and helpful legislation.

          These are not the times to procrastinate. We are going ahead as rapidly as possible in all the many branches of the work without hindrance by a lack of funds or legal restraints of particular consequence. In conclusion, permit me to repeat the closing paragraph of my last report,4 to wit: “Much remains to be done, but it will be done cheerfully, gladly, efficiently. The plans have been made on a scale commensurate with the task. They will be carried out with speed, with confidence, and with ultimate success.”

          I am enclosing a copy of my testimony before the House Committee on Naval Affairs.|5|

          With very kind regards,

                             Sincerely yours,

                                      Josephus Daniels.

Dr. Albert Shaw,


          Review of Reviews,

              New York, N. Y.

P. S. Since the above was dictated the House Committee has authorized appropriations to build cruisers and dreadnaughts and their work will be undertaken as soon as possible.

Source Note: LTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 678.

Footnote 1: This letter has not been located.

Footnote 2: Under the provisions of the 1918 Naval Program, Congress appropriated one billion dollars for the Navy Department’s fiscal budget. Such an increase allowed for the increase in naval personnel from 19,500 to 322,000 and the naval reserves from a few hundred to 49,000. Congress also appropriated funds for the building of three battleships, one battle cruiser, three scout cruisers, fifteen destroyers, one submarine tender, and one destroyer tender. The completion of these ships would fulfill the completion of a three-year program of construction that would provide the United States with a much more modern fleet that would be one of the largest in the world;, accessed 3 March 2018.

Footnote 3: Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 4: This report has not been subsequently located.

Footnote 5: This enclosure is no longer appended to this document.

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