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Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


APRIL      Monday 30        1917

Admiral Gleaves complained that destroyers were taken from him & given to Sims. Then Mayo plead for him & wished him made a Vice Admiral. Never.1

     Council of National Defense. Houstons resolution to give President power to fix prices and make prohibition2. . . . Denman3 wished U S. to build ships instead of England so after the war we would have them. Opposed Schwab’s plan of building for England.4

     12.40: Went to see President. Talked about sending our ships to England & France & decided to send 36 & try to secure other small5 craft- Must act now- He did not like Com named by L & W — all of them had fought shipping bill.6

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary, Roll 1. The diary appears to be written on a day calendar. The date therefore is printed at the top of the page.

Footnote 1: In his diary, Daniels first wrote “Rear Admiral,” but then crossed through “Rear” and wrote “Vice” above it. RAdm. Albert Gleaves, commander of the destroyer force attached to the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Gleaves was promoted to admiral in 1919 while Daniels was still Secretary of the Navy. Mayo was VAdm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 2: The Council of National Defense was an advisory group formed to coordinate transportation, industrial and farm production, financial support for the war, and public morale. It included as ex-officio members, the Secretaries of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor. David F. Houston was the Secretary of Agriculture.

Footnote 3: William Denman, Chairman of the U.S. Shipping Board.

Footnote 4: Charles M. Schwab, chairman of the board of Bethlehem Steel Corporation. According to Daniel’s diary entry of 27 April, Schwab had told the Council that British First Lord of the Admiralty Sir John Jellicoe had cabled Schwab and requested that Bethlehem Steel’s shipbuilding subsidiary construct “100 steel ships at $1 million each” or offered to advance the company $25 million “to construct new plant” to build ships for the British. Ibid. In the end, Schwab accepted the second offer. However, from RAdm. Dudley De Chair’s cable to Jellicoe of 29 April, it is clear that it was Schwab who came up with and promoted the plan that the British build the plant for Bethlehem Steel. If given the plant, Schwab promised to deliver the “first batch” of the 100 ships in sixteen months and the remainder one year later. UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/656.

Footnote 5: Daniels added “small” as an interlineation above the line.

Footnote 6: That is, the committee on transportation and communication headed by Daniel Willard (“W”), one of the committees of the Advisory Council of National Defense, which was formed at the instigation of Franklin W. Lane (“L”), the Secretary of the Interior. In his diary entry of 25 April, Daniels wrote that this committee was in conflict with the Shipping Board. Ibid.