Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

                        DECEMBER                   TUESDAY 4                       1917

     Pres. spoke to Congress.1 No tickets for wives of cabinet officers. Sinnot2 sent one to my wife & Ethel3 took her place. She was in Savannah speaking on Y.W.C.A.

     W W looked serious, confident, compelling. He had given much thought to his message-read it deliberately & calmly, letting its logic and strength make all the impression. It was received with marked approval & evoked enthusiasm. After delivery we discussed it at cabinet meeting-all gave warm commendation. W W seemed relieved & was plainly pleased at its reception.

     Because of Roberts College & such institutions4 he hoped we would not have to declare war upon Turkey, but must be prepared for any eventualities. He wished a plebiscite on Alsace & Lorrain[e], Suggested that many who had owned & still owned land should be entitled to vote. Not certain all wish to go to France. Children still speak German. Wished to let world know we stand for no such treaties as would call for land or money beyond repairing Belgium and Northern France.

     More rooms needed by Departments.

     Spent evening reading spotted record of E. D. Ryan whom Vance McCormick and Mitchell wished made Admiral5 I had almost promised to do it, but could not after reading

     Represt-of Chili [Chile] here to buy RR engines & cars. Can we trade & get ships from Chili.

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

Footnote 1: Woodrow Wilson. Later in this entry, Daniels called him “W W.” This speech was Wilson’s annual address to Congress. Among other topics addressed in this speech, Wilson recommended that Congress declare war on Austria-Hungary; the United States had severed diplomatic relations with the Hapsburg Empire in February. Congress followed through on the President’s recommendation, declaring war on 7 December; see: Robert Lansing to American Embassy, London, 7 December 1917.

Footnote 2: Joseph J. Sinot, doorkeeper of the House of Representatives.

Footnote 3: Woodrow Wilson’s wife.

Footnote 4: Robert College, located in Constantinople, was one of several American supported schools in the Ottoman Empire.

Footnote 5: Capt. Eugene D. Ryan, supply officer at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Vance C. McCormick was an American businessman and politician that served as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1916 to 1919, among other roles. It is unclear who Mitchell is.

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