Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

1918                      WEDNESDAY 3                     APRIL

War Council met with President. First took up question of getting men to France. Hurley1 reported could send over 90,000 a month but this would require reduction of imports and in Japan and Brazilian trade. President2 said “Tell Great Britain how many men we can send not taking out Japan & Brazil tonnage and then ask England and France to furnish ships for balance.

John Skelton Williams3 brought up buying coal for RR’s at less figure than public pays-said operators were making unconscionable big profits, but were willing to continue practice of selling to RR cheaper if cars are furnished. Garfield4 opposed drop in price & said RR should pay same as public & Navy, & the practice of furnishing 100% cars to certain RR’s was indefensible. Williams said G’s prop. made giving 40 mil dollars to operators & no benefit to anybody else. I asked why not commandeer?5 W W said the RR did not belong to the Governt & we could not commandeer.

WW – Not let cars go to certain mines but divide in zones & require better prices for RR because coal to them is essential to keep all industries going.

          Dinner at Gen McCawleys6

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diaries, Roll 1.

Footnote 1: Edward N. Hurley, Chairman, United States Shipping Board.

Footnote 2: Woodrow Wilson(identified as “WW” throughout the entry).

Footnote 3: Comptroller of the Currency and Director of the Division of Finance and Purchases of the Railroad Administration.

Footnote 4: Harry A. Garfield, President of Williams College and United States Fuel Administrator.

Footnote 5: The government had assumed control of the nation’s railroads in December of 1917, but had continued to pay railroad companies for their services and promised them a speedy return to fully private sector status after the war. The Federal Control Act passed in March 1918 also set rates for the use of railroads at the average earnings from 1915-1917, which was somewhat controversial since these had been unusually profitable years. Kennedy, Over Here: 252-255.

Footnote 6: Brig. Gen. Charles W. McCawley, Quartermaster of the Marine Corps.

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