Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

1917                 Friday 19               October

. . . Transport submarined on return trip near French coast.1 Our first transport lost.

     Went over with Mayo to see President.2 Mayo told him of message from the King.3 He told of what he had seen. The President said the English thought we were were Anglo-Saxons and like themselves. We are very different. He had said one of our troubles was we could understand the English & when they said things against us, we knew it while if F[rance] or G[ermany] did the same we knew nothing about it. He listened to M[ayo] & hoped some real offensive would come. He was disgusted with the idea of sinking 100 ships to shut up river beyond Heligoland when dynamite could clear the channel.4

     Dined at English Ambassador’s to meet Lord and Lady Redding.5 I talked with a lady about the undefinable thing called charmed. Who is the most charming person you ever met? asked lady. “I will not answer as to ladies, but make it men. You write down the two most charming & I will.[“] I wrote Lloyd George & Balfour & she wrote Balfour & Lloyd George.6 When a boy Lord R---- said he had been a boy before the mast on a ship

     He went to school in Germany & had many friends & yet 13 years ago he decided never to go there again. The people were offensive & made an Englishman feel they were a decadent nation (& in some ways we are) & I would not go again.

     Morley: What you are, where you are; more than what you say.7

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diaries, Roll 2.

Footnote 1: On the sinking of the troopship Antilles, see: William S. Sims to Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, 19 October 1917.

Footnote 2: VAdm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander, Atlantic Fleet. Mayo had just returned from a naval mission to Great Britain. President Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 3: On Mayo’s meeting with King George V of England, see: Mayo to Caroline Mayo, 27 September 1917.

Footnote 4: As seen in an earlier Daniels diary entry, Mayo did not think the plan to block the channel near Heligoland would work. See: Daniels Diary entry of 6 October 1917.

Footnote 5: The British Ambassador to the United States was Sir Cecil A. Spring Rice.

Footnote 6: Rufus Daniel Isaacs, First Marquess of Reading, and his wife Alice Cohen Reading. Reading was the Lord Chief Justice of England who had been sent on a special mission by Prime Minister David Lloyd-George to proposed greater coordination of allied embargo policies and a high-level conference in London.  Daniels, Cabinet Diaries, 218n. Arthur Balfour, a former Prime Minister of Great Britain, was the British Foreign Secretary.

Footnote 7: Daniels was paraphrasing John Morley, First Viscount Morley of Blackburn, a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor. The quote is taken from Morley’s Recollections, Vol. 2, book 5, chapter 4, which were published in 1917.

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