Skip to main content

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

Jan 2 – 1918


Council of National Defense. Dean Gay & Director Cary1 gave figures of shipping, showing that the great need was ships & more ships. The sinking by German U boats were large & the construction of new ships not large. Speeding up is the duty. Redfield brought up the sailing ships & need of using them.2

Lane3 said we had not seriously taken up shipping in May, though it has been pressed by Shipping Board all the time, & resources have been employed to increase it.

Wrote President for a conference with Gregory Swanson & I about oil.4

Lansing5 sent over requesting the Brooklyn be sent Vladivostock to act with Japanese ships. It would have put the American Admiral in command and as we had no other ship there might have prove unwise. Bolshekivi would say America was making war on Russia. Lansing thought it best for our ship to go. Otherwise Japan would go alone.

We agreed to leave to President

He decided best not to send but order ship to pay a visit of courtesy to Japan and await instructions. That would put him near enough to V‒ to go in6

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diaries, Roll 1. Entry is written in a 1917 diary book on one of the rear, “MEMORANDA,” pages.

Footnote 1: Edwin F. Gay, member, Commercial Economy Board of the Council of National Defense, and Edward F. Carry, Operations Director, U.S. Shipping Board.

Footnote 2: William C. Redfield. The British had concerns about sending American sailing vessels into the war zone. See: William S. Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 22 December 1917.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane.

Footnote 4: Daniels wanted to ensure that the federal government would not lose ownership of the Navy’s oil leases in California. See: Daniels’ Diary entry of 1 January 1917.

Footnote 5: Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

Footnote 6: U.S.S. Brooklyn, the flagship of the American Far Eastern squadron, had visited Vladivostok in November 1917. Adm. Austin M. Knight had found the representatives of the Provisional Government were still nominally in charge, though in reality the Bolsheviks had taken practical control of all the important government offices. However, the Bolsheviks were acting “very moderately” so Knight chose not to intervene and left for Manila on 7 December. On 1 January 1918, an urgent message arrived at the State Department from the American consul in Vladivostok arguing that it was the consensus of the consuls there that “foreign ships” were “necessary to preserve order.” As can be seen here, Pres. Woodrow Wilson agreed with Daniels and Brooklyn did not go to Vladivostok, however, the British and Japanese did not show the same reluctance and both nations ordered ships to the port. This set in motion a series of steps that ended with the allies undertaking an armed occupation of that city. Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909-1922: 343-66.