Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

President Woodrow Wilson to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

My dear Mr. Secretary,        The White House. 24 March, 1917.

     . . . . The main thing is no doubt to get into immediate communication with the Admiralty on the other side (through confidential channels until the Congress has acted) and work out the scheme of cooperation. As yet sufficient attention has not been given, it seems to me, by the authorities on the other side of the water to the routes to be followed or to plans by which the safest possible approach may be made to the British ports. As few ports as possible should be used, for one thing, and every possible precaution thought out. Can we not set this afoot at once and save all the time possible?1

Faithfully Yours, 

Woodrow Wilson

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Special Correspondence, Reel 65.

Footnote 1: The President was undoubtedly reacting to a recommendation made by Ambassador Walter H. Page in his letter to Secretary of State Robert Lansing of 23 March, above, that an admiral be sent to England to coordinate with the British Admiralty. After receiving this letter, Daniels initiated a search. Adm. Henry B. Wilson turned the position down, stating he wished to continue his sea command. The General Board recommended the President of the Naval War College and noted Anglophile Adm. William S. Sims. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt also spoke in Sims’ favor. Daniels cabled Sims on 26 March, asking him to come to Washington and to do so secretly. See: Instructions Given Rear Admiral William S. Sims Concerning his being the United States Navy’s Liaison with the British Admiralty, 28 March 1917. See also, Daniels, Years of War: 67.

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