Skip to main content

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

JUNE                 MONDAY 25                1917

Went before the Military Affairs Com. with Baker on bill to appropriate 600 mil. dollars for aviation, we both opposed a new cabinet place for that, why not Secretary for Artillery? said Baker.1

Council of National Defense to discuss organization and suggest men as Munition Board & get quicker action in purchasing -No action Difficult to find men to fill bill-2

Capt. Volney Chase found dead-3 With[ou]t fear & with[out] repro[a]ch

Council4 – I presided-

Denman and Shipping Board present.5 Expected an airing of differences but not So. They were in harmony – Denman & Redfield opposed Navy taking over ships to carry troops to Europe. Denman said all British troops were transported by merchant captains & crews, I doubted if officers & crew, capable, could be found- Silent afte at meeting: After meeting [a]greed with me-

McAdoo about the Purchsg Com. He favrd

Mayo wants to go to England with his staff6

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

Footnote 1: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. The question of creating a separate department for the air services continued through the war and into the postwar period. An act appropriating money for the air service did not pass until 6 October; however, in that bill the appropriation amount was $45,000,000. Digest Catalogue of Laws and Joint Resolutions, 10.

Footnote 2: This brief entry does not reflect the bureaucratic in-fighting then going on between Baker on one side and Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo and financier, stock investor, and presidential adviser Bernard Baruch on the other. When Daniels wrote this entry, Baker was in the ascendency and proposed a new purchasing commission with a chairman and several members. However, his proposal was stymied when it turned out that a majority of the members Baker proposed for the commission were Republicans, which explains Daniels comment about the difficulty finding men “to fill bill.” Thereafter, McAdoo and Baruch and their ideas, which evolved into the War Industries Board, slowly took over discourse. Cuff, The War Industries Board, 101-4.

Footnote 3: Capt. Volney O. Chase, Assistant to Chief of Naval Operations. He died in his sleep of a heart attack. Guy R. Gaunt to John R. Jellicoe, 26 June 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/656.

Footnote 4: That is, Council of National Defense.

Footnote 5: William Denman was chairman of the Shipping Board, which exercised extensive control over the merchant marine of the United States. William J. Williams, The Wilson Administration and the Shipbuilding Crisis of 1917: Steel Ships and Wooden Steamers (Lewiston, NY: The Edward Mellen Press, 1992), 37-39, 42-45. Despite Daniels’ belief that he scored a telling point in the debate over the Navy manning all vessels going into the war zone, it was not until December 1917 that the Navy was given official permission to take over Shipping Board vessels. Clephane, Naval Overseas Transportation Service: xviii.

Footnote 6: In his diary entry of 26 June, Daniels wrote that he opposed the idea of Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, going to Europe “till our policies are more settled.” DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary, Roll 1.