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Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

MARCH                    WEDNESDAY 27                     1918

The Presidents Council,1 includ[ing] McAdoo, Crowell2 & myself met at White House. Talked nitrates & decided to allocate ships to bring enough from Chili.

Shall all shipping of allies be pooled? England asked if we would give up 50-50 of Dutch & Norway ships?3 Will England give us 50-50 of all? Geddes4 said she had net loss of only 2½ mil[lion] tons – Where is her 40 mil. tons left? McCormick5 thought we should pool. WW [Woodrow Wilson] doubted until Stevens assured us that the suggestion of England was just –

Shall RR get usual low rates given to RRs? Or pay like others[?] McAdoo wants to furnish cars & get low rate.6 Garfield7 no. WW seemed to favor equal price to all even if RRs lost money

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

Footnote 1: According to Daniels, Cabinet Diaries, 294,

On Wednesday mornings, President Wilson normally conferred with his war council, a small and changing group of his more trusted lieutenants. As this Diary makes amply clear, the Tuesday and Friday cabinet sessions had degenerated into a discussion of trivialities or mere storytelling, because Wilson had long since discovered that Secretary Lane was frequently indiscreet in revealing cabinet confidences.

Footnote 2: Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo and Assistant (Acting) Secretary of War Benedict Crowell.

Footnote 3: For the British request for Dutch coal tonnage, see: Raymond B. Stevens to Edward N. Hurley, et al., 26 March 1918.

Footnote 4: First Sea Lord, Sir Eric Geddes.

Footnote 5: Chairman of the Board of Trade, Vance C. McCormick.

Footnote 6: On 26 December 1917, President Woodrow Wilson announced that the government was assuming control of the nation’s railroads, citing their essential role in wartime mobilization. The following March, Congress clarified this move with the Federal Control Act, which guaranteed the railroad companies a return to private ownership after the war. This act also promised that railroad companies would be compensated for the government’s use of their services during the war. This particular cabinet discussion seems to be about the rates the government would pay – whether would it compensate railroad owners based on the market rates from before the war or on a rate set by the government. Ultimately, the Federal Control Act stipulated that they would be compensated based on the average earnings from 1915-1917. Kennedy, Over Here, 252-255.

Footnote 7: Harry A. Garfield, President of Williams College and United States Fuel Administrator.

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