Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Journal of Secretary of the Navy John D. Long

[Extract]

Washington, D.C., Wednesday, February 2nd, 1898.

     Another cold day. Went with Captain O’Neil, Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance,1 this morning before the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs, with regard to armor plate. Of course I know nothing about it, and go through the perfunctory business of saying so, and referring the Committee to Captain O’Neil. When I say I know nothing about it, I mean, nothing about the details, which only an expert can know, of the process of manufacturing armor. I make a point not to trouble myself, over-it-much, to acquire a thorough knowledge of the details pertaining to any branch of the service. Such knowledge would, undoubtedly, be a very valuable equipment, but the range is so enormous I could make little progress, and that at great expense of health and time, in mastering it. My plan is to leave all such matters to the bureaus to which they belong, and rely upon my bureau chiefs or other officers at naval stations or on board ship, limiting myself to the general direction of affairs. What is the need of my making a dropsical tub of any lobe of my brain, when I have right at hand a man possessed with more knowledge than I could acquire, and have him constantly on tap? At best there is enough for me to do, and to occupy by attention. Some of it is spent on important things, and a very large part on small things, especially personal matters; personal frictions; personal delinquencies; personal appeals and personal claims.

Source Note: Transcript, MHi, Papers of John D. Long, vol. 78.

Footnote 1: Capt. Charles O’Neil, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.

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