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tv   Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels in World War I  CSPAN  November 30, 2014 2:00pm-3:02pm EST

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the cable tv industry and funded by your local cable or satellite provider. watch as in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. recentlyan history tv visited the mccarthy memorial in norfolk hosting a symposium for the world war i centennial. next, biographer lee craig talks about secretary of the navy josephus daniels. as a key member of president wilson's cabinet he built up the fleet for war. after his remarks, the evolution during worldtias war i focusing on the rainbow division which included soldiers from 26 states and the district of columbia. among them, his own father. leefirst speaker today is craig. statea graduate of ball
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university. best phd dissertation and economic history. he has been ubiquitous in his efforts. essays, supervising dissertations, and presenting papers. he is the author of 24 articles and essays and six books, mostly economic histories and population studies. was published by north carolina university press. it examined the life of the 41st secretary of the navy. they knows decision helped prepare the u.s. for its involvement in world war i. will share with us his research from his most recent book. welcoming dr. in lee craig.
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>> as he informed you during the introduction, i am a college professor. we are scheduled to do q&a at the end of my presentation. i always know, as a professor, what the first question will be and what the answer to that is. answer is yes. the question is, will this material be on the final exam? [laughter] yes. it will be on the final exam. is potentially material for the final exam. i expect to see a lot of notetaking during the talk. about josephuss
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and his role as secretary of the navy during the first world war. while you were enjoying lunch, i was being interviewed on c-span. the first question that i got would josephus daniels, a small town newspaper editor, be secretary of the navy during the first world war? the short answer to that is politics. , the longer answer is, a very important player in the democratic party at both the national and state and regional level. he was a member of the democratic national committee for 20 years by the time the
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1912 presidential election rolled around. he was a newspaper publisher and arguably one of the most important democratic voices in the south. is what put him on wilson's radar screen initially. rolehe played an important in getting wilson nominated. then he played an important role in getting him elected. wilson came to appreciate for his political wisdom, his connections, and power. daniels to be in the cabinet as a political advisor. .ou say, ok you persuaded us why he would want daniels in the cabinet, but why the navy?
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why not? be a big not going to war in the spring of 1913, right? ran the army or the navy? from wilson's perspective, he wanted a politically connected and wise advisor. well, it turns out daniels had no military background whatsoever. tell, the only time he was on a naval vessel in his life was when he took a to the outer banks of north carolina for vacation. he had no military background or preparation for the job. he was not just a political hack. ,e was a successful businessman was a self-made man and had made a fortune.
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this is how i came to study success as a his capitalist, rather .han as a military leader an economic historian wrote his biography rather than a military historian. theought i would organize about his time in wilson's administration during the war specifically in three parts. we will talk about before the war, leading up to the war as one part, then the war itself. the immediate aftermath. with respect to what was going before the war, i think one of the most important
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aspects of his management was integrating the new military technologies of the big battleship and the dreadnoughts, as they were referred to at the time, and the submarine, the u-boats. -- the u-boats, into the navy. the martial side of that, the strategic side of that, he left to his admirals. managerial and organizational side that he was responsible for, at least partly. one of the most important things he did was he got congress -- he was the administration's point person on getting congress to pay for those new technologies. dollars, a single dreadnought would run into the billions of dollars.
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navy was a substantial proportion of the overall federal budget at that time, much larger than it is today. substantialips were -- were a substantial proportion of the navy's budget. just getting the funding lined up and the naval spending and building program was an important task. also, he faced some organizational and managerial issues. with respect to the organization of the navy, when daniel took over in the spring of 1913, the , to put itnal chart in business terms, had not really been changed since before the civil war. with the electronic communications, daniels wanted to see the organizational chart move from what you might think
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to a a flat chart horizontal chart, to a more vertical chart. movend and control could up and down the line more directly with the communication technologies that had been improved since before the civil war. had some managerial issues with his admirals. that was partly related to navy.'s vision of the daniels was about as close to a pacifist as the leader of a military organization could be. he, unlike his admirals, who saw the navy fairly clearly in martial terms, daniels saw the tool --a big vocational school. he thought it was a place where young men could enter and learn a trade, and then leave with a
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skill for the private sector. in addition, he focused heavily on the moral improvement of the young men who entered the navy. specifically, he thought that they should come into the navy and leave the navy without ever having consumed alcohol. and also without ever visiting a house of prostitution in a navy port. so, he spent a good bit of time and effort cleaning up the red portsdistricts around the . he also banned alcohol from the ships and basis. -- bases. it is from that that we get the expression "cup of joe." when he banned alcohol, there was an increase in the coffee rations. would somewhat
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angrily referred to it as a cup of josephus daniels. it was eventually shortened to "cup of joe." with theese conflicts leadership of the navy. more or less throughout his tenure as secretary. , initially, of course, when war begins, the united states is not a combatant , but daniels, who as a newspaper publisher, had been very critical of the republican administration that had preceded wilson's administration, in particular, he had been critical of the gunboat diplomacy and u.s. imperialism more generally.
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he actually becomes an aggressive, lb at reluctant, gunboat diplomacy this -- aggressive, albeit reluctant, gunboat diplomat. with respect to the invasion of mexico, that is a direct , whonse to the germans were running guns to one side during the mexican revolution. enforcing the monroe doctrine. it became an important part of navy policy. the u.s. invades. later, with respect to haiti and the dominican republic, the foron that was given invading those countries, or at least the reason the navy department gave for invading those countries, was to keep german influence and u-boats
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from being established in those countries. referred to, again, not favorably, by the end of his administration as king josephus , andirst, ruler of haiti sometimes referred to as the king of the dominican republic, because it is basically the navy and the marine corps that are running those countries during daniels' administration. he gets involved, again, rather reluctantly, in these gunboat excursions in the caribbean and central america. another aspect of the
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administration's policies with respect to the war before the united states enters the war is theformal policy of administration, which is neutrality. supporters a staunch of the administration's neutrality policy as it was announced. he and wilson had a great deal of conflict over how the policy was actually carried out. view,, in daniels' favored the british. arguably, that may have been the more popular political position in the country more broadly. position.ot daniels'
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moraler made a distinction between the british and the french on the one hand and the germans on the other. to the violations of international law, which so the other members of the administration and the , i am, particularly referring here to the waging of the u-boat war by the germans in thought toc, daniels that the british, with their blockading policy and mine-laying policies in the north sea, and their stopping of neutral vessels and interning them, he thought those violations were just as egregious as the germans' v
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iolations of international law when they were waging the u-boat war. his personal views were of a much more stricter neutrality than what he felt the administration was engaged in in practice. this, as i mentioned, led to a bit of a rupture in his relationship with wilson. eventually, of course, the germanygoes to war with , and then all of his reservations about violations of international law go out the window. he starts engaging in all of the practices that he had criticized the british for before the u.s.
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joined the team, so to speak. the most prominent of which was setting up a minefield between scotland and norway. basically, sealing off the north sea so the german u-boats could not escape out into the atlantic. so, when the country, the united states, enters the war, then, in 1917, daniels is basically majoronted with two problems. one of those is, of course, the u-boats in the atlantic, and the other is transporting the army to the battlefields in france. and so, with respect to combating the u-boats, the british were, of course,
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blockading the continent and stopping just about anything from getting in or out. turn,he germans were, in british andt the the french public to put pressure on their governments to offfor peace by cutting their aid from the rest of the the unitedarticular states, with the u-boats in the atlantic. ese problems of getting, addressing the u-boat menace and getting food and supplies to the british and the french, and getting troops to , they are two sides of the same coin. it is basically controlling the
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sea lanes in the atlantic. primary -- the primary manner in which daniels has the navy do this is through the convoy system. previously, the british had favored sending lone ships out. when you putt was ships and a convoy, what you do is, first of all, you make a larger target. second of all, the convoy can only move as fast as its slowest member. so, essentially, if you use the metaphor of predators on the you are justica, creating large, slow creatures to be eaten. was, i think what underestimated there was the ability of the u.s. economy to generate escort vessels and to
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just, the sheer number of ships that the u.s. could bring very quickly to the equation to get the convoys safely across the atlantic. the same with the troop transports. askedthe war, daniels is what he thought the navy's largest contribution to the war was, and he said it was transporting the army into the field to defeat the germans in france. was the last member of theon's administration of to vote for war in the spring -- wilson's administration, of the cabinet, to vote for war in the spring. one of the reasons why he waited
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so long before he would finally vote for war was because he felt it would take an indoor miss and -- an enormous army, casualties as a result of that, to defeat the germans in the field. most of the other cabinet members did not agree with this. they thought the united states would just supply material aid menace, andu-boat that would be enough. daniels said, no, we are going to need an army. he thought one of the most important things the navy did was to get that army into the field. he claimed, now, in my research, i was not able to verify this, but he claimed that no u.s. serviceman or woman lost their life on a u.s. navy vessel while being transported to france.
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if that is true, that would be a .remendous accomplishment in any case, he did get the army over there. was eventually brought to a conclusion. the post-wart up settlements. daniels played an important role in the post-war settlements in two respects. he joined wilson in the late winter, early spring of 1919 while the various peace treaties that were being designed to wrap wilson usedso
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daniels as a kind of roving advisor. sent him to the various places in europe where t boundaries of the new nationstates were going to be carved. these happened to be italy and germany. where the involved boundary settlements between the yugoslavand the new republic on the one hand, and then the other issue was between germany and poland, and the so-called danzig corridor or on the other hand -- corridor on
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the other hand. wilson sends daniels out. daniels comes back and he gives his report. go withrt is, if you the british and the french who were advising a more generous yugoslavs for the relative to the italians, and advising a more generous esttlement for the pol relative to the germans, if you listen to this advice, you are going to have trouble in the future. wilson did not listen to that advice. it is not clear that if he had listened that he could have done anything differently that would have prevented the rise of ,ascism in italy and germany twocertainly, the way that
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boundaries was ultimately settled it did not contribute to the establishment and maintenance of peace after the war. now, the story that we're told as, wilson made to therial concessions extent he cared about these issues in order to secure the , thesion in the treaties first of the major treaties, the versailles treaty, of the league of nations. nboardlly, daniels was on with supporting the league of nations. the discussion surrounded collective security, that the
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problems that led to the first world war were these one-off treaties between countries that that came into conflict. what we really needed was a collective security and the league would guarantee that. initially,said, daniels was supportive of that view because he was persuaded that that would have kept the in particular from being so aggressive. he thought that if there was a thought theact, he league would be necessary if the territorial settlements that were on the table, again, just for example, the ones that he was involved in, italy and those, the proposed territorial settlements, were in
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fact the ones that came about after the war -- after the treaties were signed, which they did, that there would be trouble with the italians and the , andns, which there was that we would need the joint military forces, again, the expression "collective security," of the league, in order to keep them in their respective places. now, in a relatively short period of time, his view of this changes almost 180 degrees. even though he continues to voice in public support for wilson and the league, he begins to have reservations in private. in particular, these
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reservations come from the second issue. i mentioned there were two. one was the territorial settlements that he was advising wilson on at the peace conferences in the spring of 1919. the other was the post-war naval arrangements. and so, it's part of the post-war naval arrangements that that leadsa party to him to begin to question wilson's strategy with respect to the future of the league of nations and the series of --aties that are ultimately wrap up the war. gets involved with negotiating with the british over the relative naval power
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after the war. the problem is that a lot of saw the naval arms race between the germans and the british as a key component leading to the onset of the war. and so, you know, there are political voices that are saying, how can we avoid a repeat of this problem? who, when he first took over the navy, basically saw it as a egg trade school -- as a big trade school for enlisted men and a place for moral uplift where young men could go and hide from the temptations of alcohol and wayward women for a few years during late adolescence and early adulthood, after entering
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the administration with that view, after fighting the war, he realizes that he had exactly the watchingw, that during the early years of the british drivethe the germans -- after the germans had put all of this money, all of this treasure and these public resources into building the second-largest navy in the world, the second-most artful navy in the world, he realizes, having the second-most powerful navy in the world does not do you much good if you go to war with the country that has the most powerful navy in the world. almost he really flips 180 degrees in his view of the navy. he realizes what the united
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states needs is not a good trade school, but what it needs is the world's largest, unambiguously, the most powerful navy. although the u.s. had ships in the pacific before, this is where the expression the "two-ocean navy" comes from. navy-building program that will basically give you the largest navy in the world split between the atlantic and the pacific. and partly, this stems from what i was talking about earlier with respect to his views of the germans and the british. the germans always thought the american administration and the american public work pro-british, and arguably, they were. but again, daniels was not.
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to prepare for the next war against the british as he was to prepare for the next war against the germans or the japanese, or whomever that might be. so, after he advises wilson on the danzig and polish question, and after he advises wilson on the yugoslav-italian question, which wilson did not take his advice, daniels is off to london to negotiate with the british. now, you may say, what was there to negotiate? well, again, the political powers thatf the had engaged in war had come to
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the conclusion that, you know what? in ourt a lot of money naval arms races and we got a lot of people killed. these post-warf discussions, treaties, settlements and so forth, maybe we could come up with a better way of organizing our military relations so that if nothing else, at least it might be a little cheaper. it might save us a little money. so, they are talking about the post-war naval arms settlement relationship, which basically meant reduction. so, the british umpire -- empire ad financially been driven to the brink by the war. perpetuation the navy wasrld's largest
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going to be a cost that the british politicians were going to have a difficult time selling to the british taxpayers. daniels recognizes this. so, he goes, does a tour of all the political people who he's in england.see spend some time with the king. in aup in parliament late-night meeting with the secretary of state for war at that time, the equivalent of our defense minister -- our secretary of defense today, winston churchill. book, i described the scene as churchill and daniels discussing the post-war naval
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,reaties over brandy and cigars all of which were consumed by churchill. [laughter] daniels neither drank nor smoke. their relationship was not a warm one. it is not one that they perpetuated. that the told daniels british had to maintain, because thehe nature of its empire, british had to maintain the largest navy in the world. daniels told churchill that because of what he had learned, he, daniels, had learned during the first world war, that the united states had to have the world's largest, most powerful navy. and so, churchill said, well, ok.
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own putting this in my words. i am not as eloquent as churchill. i am paraphrasing for you here. churchill says, ok. go ahead. daniels says, ok, we will, suspecting rightly that the british will not be able to antinue to fund naval-building program at the same rate that the united states could fund a building program. one of the reasons being was because the british gold reserves were now resting in the united states because, basically, the british had been paying the united states to help keep them in the war before the united states entered the war. daniels and churchill have this long back-and-forth. they walk away with no agreement. paris,iels goes back to
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tells wilson, we tried to settle this. we couldn't. we just need to stick with our naval-building program, which, in a few years, assuming the british did not up their naval-building program, which daniels did not think that they could do politically or financially, would ultimately give the united states its t wo-ocean navy and the largest navy in the world. so, he goes back to the united states. this is 1919. it turns out that the republicans had taken control of elections.s, midterm by the time -- he had tried before he went to france in late winter, early spring, he had
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tried to get the lame-duck session of congress, which was still controlled by the democrats, to fund the next installment of the building program. they dragged their feet. the war was ending. they did not want to commit to the amount of money daniels was asking for. and so, the issue is rolled over into the next congress and the republicans, after this torturous set of negotiations in london, congress will not fund the naval-building program. and so, it becomes the harding administration's problem to following the 1920 election.
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now, another question that i received related to the 1920 earlier in the ,nterview that i did on c-span the question came up of what role did franklin -- franklin delano roosevelt play in daniels' tenure as secretary of the navy? i will start at the end of that and work backwards. the end came before the 1920 election because fdr was the democratic party's nominee for vice president. campaign, heder to the administration. he had initially been brought into the administration by
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josephus daniels. fdr as his named assistant secretary. how manyn't know assistant and under-secretaries --re are today of positions positions, but from what i read in the newspaper and there is a fairly large number. in those days, you had one. after the election, the initial wilson election in the fall of 1912, he thinks, oh, wouldn't it be a nice political, public if we couldup secondnto the only
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democratic administrations since before the civil war, remember the others were grover cleveland , those of you who are old enough, and i won't make eye contact with any of you, but you remember we used to have to memorize the presidents? war, they alll had the same beard and looked alike. the one in that group who was different, the outlier, was grover cleveland. he had two nonconsecutive terms as president and he was the only democrat between buchanan, before lincoln, and wilson, which was one of the reasons why of the was so supportive politician wilson. it was because he was a winner. after losing three times with brian, who was a close friend of daniels in college, he thought that wilson was the way to go.
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one of those republicans was theodore roosevelt. theodore roosevelt may or may not have been a good president, depending on your perspective, but he was a very bad ex-president. he was not constitutionally suited to be an ex-president. he had run, being rejected by the elders of the republican party, as a candidate against wilson in 1912. he ran as an independent candidate. so, daniels thought that it would really make the administration look good from the beginning to bring a roosevelt into a democratic administration. , hein his correspondence was describing later, actually,
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in his correspondence later in life, he described how he had this vision of this young man and that he so well had identified as having "the to bring him into the administration as his assistant secretary, but in going over daniels' primary sources, his diary, a letter to his wife, he said to his wife, i shall bring frederick d roosevelt into my department as assistant secretary. so, it is possible that he did not know frederick roosevelt as .ell as he claimed years later
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he brought roosevelt into the administration. it was only -- they served very closely together throughout wilson's two administrations until fdr left the navy department right at the end of as itcond administration, turns out, when things went really badly after the s take power and then the league of nations runs into a lot of trouble. with respect to the navy, there are actually some -- when the republicans get control, they conduct some investigations into the waging of the war and the navy is subjected to some investigationul
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havior inrines' be haiti and the dominican republic, and also daniels management with respect to planning for the war, and so forth. fdr, like a lot of very successful politicians, knows when to leave a troubled ship. so, he went his own way politically and daniels went his way. the ken burns recent documentary, series about the roosevelt's, daniels was not presented very favorably in the episode on the first world war. his troubled relationship with fdr was highlighted. they did have one side of their
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relationship troubled. there was a lot of cultural anderence between the two fdr was not a particularly loyal assistant secretary. he was one of the more bellicose ,oices in the administration looking to take an advocating and more aggressive position toward the germans. but, that was only one side of the relationship. later in life, fdr would often introduce daniels, who ultimately became fdr's ambassador to mexico during the 1930's and the second world war, that was only one side of their relationship. later on, when fdr would introduce daniels to his friends and political colleagues, he
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would introduce him as the man who taught him a lot that he needed to know, that was fdr's expression, about politics. he recognized daniels had been a pretty good political mentor before him in washington. wrapping up the wilson administration with fdr's entry as a vice presidential candidate into the 1920 campaign would be a good place for me to stop. i think we will take q&a now. thank you very much. [applause] >> all right. keep your hands up. >> from the picture you paint of daniels, basically secretary of reluctant warrior. he grows into the position. could you describe the situation
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he had in terms of the mining operation in the north sea? haguethey have the convention. there was neutrality with norway. that was a violation. also, could you do a little bit about daniels and his management style in terms of how he led? did he delegate more or was he hands-on? >> let me start with the second question first. i think if we could bring some of his senior admirals back from themead, and we would ask that question, i think they would say that he was all too hands-on. i think if we could bring josephus daniels back from the dead, and ask him that question, he would say, yes, i was hands-on, but only on the things
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that i thought i should be hands-on on. that he felt like he never interfered with his admirals when it came to the execution of orders, tactics, strategy. he was not an armchair admiral. he confessed he knew nothing about strategy or so forth, but he thought to the issues with theect to the management of seamen themselves, he thought caste-driventoo and the separation between officers and men socially, culturally, was too great. and so, he wanted the navy to be , the expression is a leveling organization, but i
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think he wanted it to be more of a raising, not to level the officers, but to raise the men up. i think in that respect, i don't think he was ever troubled by the criticism that he received from his admirals about meddling of the navyre because i think he would admit that he did not think that andure was a good productive one. with the respect to mining operations, the first question, one of the problems that the british had -- the british had no trouble violating international law. they had basically turned the north sea into one big minefield, which was a clear violation of these earlier agreements. they had no philosophical objections to putting mines across the barrier to norway. it was the maintenance and the
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actual technology of the mines themselves. historian,military so i don't know all the details, but they come up with a better mine. so, you know, that is part of it. the second part of it is just political expediency. daniels was against reddish violations of international law when we were neutral, the u.s. was neutral, and it was the brits versus the germans. once it is the u.s. and the brits versus the germans, well, international law did not mean as much to him as it did when he was the neutral. craig, would you say that armchair not an admiral, not a military background, but he was a publisher. did he stay aloof from the operations?
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these newspapers at the time did he was secretary -- sometimes kind of distance himself a little bit from chicago when he became navy secretary? i don't know much about daniels' tenure and if editorial policy changed with, kind of, in a way, inng with daniels' change his own views about our participation in the war effort. >> that is an interesting question and one i actually addressed in the book. the short answer is no. he did not separate himself from the management of his newspaper. he tried initially, but he could not -- just as teddy roosevelt held not not be president, could not stop being president, daniels could not stop
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controlling the opinion side of his newspapers. did. just what he so, he continued to control the editorial policy of the newspaper. in terms of the day to day management, he left a couple of people in charge, one of whom was his brother-in-law. have ever runho family businesses know that is a bad idea. i have not run a family business, but i learned that that was a bad idea. his brother-in-law caused a good bit of trouble both professionally and within the family. for one thing, before the u.s. entered the war, and daniels' oldest son joined the marine at that time, he was in his early 20's, he had left him eigh at the newspaper in ral
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as kind of part of his apprenticeship. well, it turns out that the sun and the brother-in-law -- the son and the brother-in-law did not get along very well and there was a lot of trouble there. ,his put daniels and his wife who was the sister of the brother-in-law in charge back in raleigh, it put them in conflict. so, the mother, daniels' wife, brotherr son over her and basically told josephus to get rid of my brother. they ship him off. arranges for him to become a newspaper man at a newspaper in texas. personale some scandals involved. i will leave it at that. this is a public show. those of you -- i hope i have whetted your appetite to buy the
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book, to read the scandalous parts of the biography. but basically, he did not stop running it. he tried. he was not well suited to do it. he couldof opinion, not give up that control and then he kept getting dragged back in because of these managerial issues with his family. >> in your research, did you happen to find out why daniels did not take advantage of the money that was available from togress in 1915 and 1916 for hish a base here battleships and our large aircraft that could not tie up alongside of a dock?
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>> i don't know that the answer to that specific question, but i have a hypothesis based on other that -- material that i found during the research. used the budget that he was granted by congress to often achieve political objectives. i know you are shocked, right, that gambling is going on in rick's in casablanca. you are shocked that a politician would do that. it would not surprise me that maybe there was conflict with state or local politicians or centimeters -- senators at the time that caused him to hold
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back money or to steer money in another direction, or what have you. i can give you two examples of where he did this. contractsth releasing for navy supplies and another was, you may recall a little while ago i spoke about cleaning up red light districts, if the aidl politicians would not in that effort, daniels would go to the congressional representatives and the governors and would threaten to withhold money from those port not do what heid wanted to do with respect to cleaning up red light districts. that is just a couple of use it. of how he would it would not surprise me. i can't recall exactly that issue, but it would not surprise me if that was the issue involved there.
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i will cut off there. >> would you touch on daniels' ,nlisting of female personnel and what was his relationship to secretary baker? >> yes. it is interesting. i was invited, because he had essentially created -- daniels essentially created the role of women in the navy. it was the 100th anniversary of his order establishing roles for andn in the navy last year i was invited to speak at the navy memorial and washington, d.c. in commemoration of that event.
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for those of you who don't know, it is just a couple blocks off the mall. as i left my hotel to go to give my talk, there were hundreds of thousands of people outside. i thought, not accustomed to magnitude, myhis students back in raleigh would be shocked that anyone who was not forced to take this course would listen to this guy, well, it turns out that when i went into my room, there was only the staff because it was the day the president was speaking in commemoration of the anniversary of the march on washington, martin luther king's "i haev a d -- "i have a dream" speech. i gave that talk. daniels, for those of you who are familiar with daniels' back
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ground, he was in a tory is racist and was one of the leaders of the white supremacy movement. it is always shocking for people that the individual who was as important as any other single individual in the country in the disenchanting -- disenfranchisement movement at the turn-of-the-century, that he was also a, what we would say today was a staunch supporter of feminism. country's of the leading advocates, and by leading, i mean someone with political power and a voice as a , forng newspaper publisher women's suffrage. pushing thewas administration toward the amendment for women's suffrage, but he also created the roles
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for women in the navy and the marine corps. did you have a follow-up? >> baker? >> he and baker had a very good relationship. a working relationship. they had a good working relationship, once were came. bellicose sign in moving the administration towards warthen daniels had been. -- more than daniels had been. but worked well together, they had conflicts in


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