Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

DIRECTOR GENERAL OF RAILROADS

INTERSTATE COMMERCE BUILDING1

Washington,

White Sulphur Springs, [GA]

June 3, 1918.           

Dear Mr. Secretary:

          While the appearance of German submarines off our coast may be a mere raid for the purpose of causing apprehension and as much demoralization as possible in our shipping business, nevertheless such raids may be expected from time to time, and we are, therefore, faced with the problem of putting guns on our coastwise vessels, as far as it is practicable to d do so.

          I should like very much to have you consider this immediately and to put the Railroad Administration in touch with some representative of the Navy Department with whom we may discuss the question of putting guns on all the coastwxxise vessels under the Railroad Administration. The rather difficult problem arises in the protection of the New England coal movement.

          As you know, New England cannot be fueled this winter unless approximately two-thirds of her demands are supplied by water. Much of the equipment used in this trade is unsuited for naval guns. I do not know to what extent, if at all, you are able to supply convoys if they should become necessary. I am mentioning the problem now not because I feel unduly concerned about the present raid, but merely because it will be necessary to concert and to put into execution every possible measure of protection against their recurrence.

          Will you kindly also put the Railroad Administration in touch with some representative of the Navy Department with whom this phase of the problem may be thoroughly discussed?2

Cordially yours,

W. G. MCADOO

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “Hon. Josephus Daniels,/Secretary of the Navy,/Washington, D. C.” Note at bottom of page: “Navy Dept. File C-1:25/289.”

Footnote 1: Faced with the near collapse of the railroads, which threatened the war effort, President Woodrow Wilson on 26 December 1917 announced that the railroads would be mobilized under government control and that Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo would head up the new Railroad Administration. Kennedy, Over Here: 253.

Footnote 2: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt replied for the Department on 5 June. See: Roosevelt to McAdoo, 5 June 1918.

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