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Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

1918                        SUNDAY 3                    NOVEMBER

Spent day at Annapolis – Frank1 drove me down. Admiral Coontz & Capt. Pratt2 came down to bring some telegrams from Benson3 – I approved sending Bullard with the Chester to the Adriatic4 – Benson had wired for definite instructions as to naval terms of an armistice to be proposed. The President had cabled that any ships taken over should be held in trust, but gives no specific instructions.5 Upon return to Washington I went to the White House- had a talk with the President – and in accordance with his views sent this telegram:

     “In advising Col. House with regard to the terms of armistice, you are authorized to use your judgment, but the President’s judgment is clear that it ought to be distinctly understood that all armed vessels taken should be held in trust and that it is quite possible to goo [i.e., go] too far in demanding excessive security”|6|

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Diary, Reel 1.

Footnote 1: Frank A. Daniels, Josephus Daniels’ son.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Robert E. Coontz, who was serving in Naval Operations and subsequently became Chief of Naval Operations in 1919; Capt. William V. Pratt, Acting Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 3: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations who was then in France as part of the mission headed by Col. Edward M. House.

Footnote 4: RAdm. William H. H. Bullard, commanding U.S. Navy forces in the eastern Mediterranean. Chester was a light cruiser.

Footnote 5: For the cable conveying President Woodrow Wilson’s wishes, dated 2 November, see, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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