Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

JULY                    SATURDAY 7                 1917

Talked to Baruch about price of raw materials & getting steel &c for Great Britain. No conclusion1

Swanson came to talk about the article of encounter with submarines- Showed him the telegrams.2

Baker had a talk with the President3 and will call a meeting of the steel committee on Tuesday to tell them he must Know the cost of production before the price is fixed. If they cannot give right price, he will take over mills and run them and fix reasonable prices.4 Denman is also to be there-5

Saw Denman about the ships we need to use as transports. He wanted more conversation— Baker said “D__ is impossible,” but he is honest- That’s the main thing

Mayo returned to fleet-6

Rodman felt sure the submarine had been sighted off Hampton Roads.7

Josephus came home, with cold, Gave him calomel8

President turned over 12 German ships to Navy to be used to carry troops to France9

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

Footnote 1: Bernard Baruch was serving as middleman between the producers and the government. He was not, however, having success in brokering an agreement. Cuff, War Industries Board: 122-25.

Footnote 2: Sen. Claude A. Swanson, D-VA, was a key member of the Senate Naval Affairs Committee. On this incident, see: Diary of Josephus Daniels, 5 July 1917, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diaries, Roll 1.

Footnote 3: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker; President Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 4: Daniels is here referring to the price-fixing controversies involving the steel and copper industries. Attempts to establish controls on prices had not been finalized and, while the military was able to obtain steel at pre-war prices, they found it difficult to obtain an adequate supply. Moreover, the price charged to the general public rose steadily, and by early July they were at their highest point since America entered the war. Wilson grew increasingly frustrated and angry and this statement he made to Baker as reported by Daniels is said to indicate a willingness on the part of the President to nationalize the industry if the steel producers refused to give “right” prices. Cuff, War Industries Board: 122-26.

Footnote 5: William Denham, chairman, United States Shipping Board.

Footnote 6: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, had been in Washington to consult with VAdm. Sir Montague E. Browning, Commander, North America and West Indies Station; Carrie Wing Mayo to Loulie Mayo, 3 July 1917, DLC-MSS, Henry Mayo Papers.

Footnote 7: Capt. Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, Atlantic Fleet. There was no German submarine off Hampton Roads, VA, in July 1917.

Footnote 8: Josephus Daniels. Jr., Daniels’ oldest son, who was serving in the Marines.

Footnote 9: For a list of ships that Wilson made available to the Navy, see: Daniels to Navy Bureaus and Commandants of Selected Navy Yards, 11 July 1917.

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