Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

 

MARCH                       FRIDAY 29                     1918

Cabinet – I presented telegram from Knight1 saying he might have to land at Vladivostok in view of presence of German officers & present and [prevent any?] shipment of munitions from that place to interior for fear it would fall into Japanese hands.2 Should Japan go into Russia? Lane & B thought it would be better than for Japanese to go in alone WW & Lansing thought not.3 WW said: What military advantage. Japan has only 400,000 troops, regular & reserved - & is not keen to go in might drive resentful Russia into hands of Germany.4

Spoke twice at Geographical Society

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

Footnote 1: Adm. Austin M. Knight, Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet.

Footnote 2: Knight’s request to intervene was a reversal of his earlier recommendation that the United States should not involve itself in Russian affairs at Vladivostok. Also, his message implied that the military supplies being removed belonged to the British and Japanese and was really but “one element in the larger question of intervention.”  Further, Knight’s request ran counter to President Wilson’s determination that the Russians themselves should decide what kind of government they established. Braisted, The United States Navy in the Pacific, 1909-1922: 359-61.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, President Woodrow Wilson, and Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

Footnote 4: In the end, Wilson’s policy of non-intervention won out. On the same day as this cabinet meeting, Daniels sent orders to Knight that he was not to use armed force except to protect American “interests” and that he was to “Take no action unless instructed by the Department.” Daniels to Knight, 29 March 1917, DNA, Vol. 121, telegrams. See also: William V. Pratt to William S. Benson, 28 March 1918.

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