Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

1918                        FRIDAY 9                        July

Admiral McLean – forced to tell him he must retire.1 His wife had corresponded with a German officer and visited at the place of internment in Georgia and the Secret Service had her letters and telegrams-2 She lacks sense, if she is not partly crazy. He had been drinking at Balto3 and had lost his power to act and initiative.

Jas. A. Garfield, Judge Proctor representing oil companies had conference with Polk, Baruch, & Garfield in Navy Department.4 They had been ordered to file their holdings by Mexican government. They said their lawyers advised them if they did so they would acknowledge the right of that Gov. to confiscate their property and would do it. We suggested it might be wise to file & protest. Lansing had already protested. Garfield & Requa seemed to lean towards the oil men5; Baruch & I not. We went to see the President and he decided the oil men could not stampede us. I told oil men what they wanted amounted to a declaration of war.6

6. During their meeting with Daniels and President Woodrow Wilson, Garfield and Proctor indicated their hope for an armed intervention in Mexico to protect American interests and property rights in the oil fields there. However, Baruch, Daniels, and Wilson “had no stomach for intervention to defend oil properties.” In fact, Wilson “compared intervention...with the German invasion of Belgium.” Wilson recommended the State Department file another protest on behalf of the Oil Producers Association. Ultimately, Mexican President Carranza revoked the requirement for registration of oil properties until the Mexican Congress could develop further legislation executing Article 27. Gilderhus, Diplomacy and Revolution: US-Mexican Relations under Wilson and Carranza, 84-86.|

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

Footnote 1: Rear Admiral Walter McLean, Commandant, Fifth Naval District and the Norfolk Navy Yard and Station.

Footnote 2: Emma Brown Jarvis McLean, wife of RAdm. Walter McLean. See also: Daniels, Cabinet Diaries, 326.

Footnote 3: Baltimore.

Footnote 4: James A. Garfield, Former Secretary of the Interior and Counsel, Oil Producers Association (organization of American companies with interests in Mexican oil fields); Frederick C. Proctor, General Counsel, Gulf Oil Refining Co.; Harry A. Garfield, U.S. Fuel Administrator; Frank L. Polk, Counselor for the Department of State; Bernard M. Baruch, head of War Industries Board.

Footnote 5: Secretary of State Robert Lansing; Mark L. Requa, General Director, Oil Division, U.S. Fuel Administration.

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