Cup of Joe

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Wed Jun 19 01:34:24 UTC 2002

In a message dated 06/18/2002 7:58:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

> Josephus Daniels (18 May 1862-15 January 1948) was appointed Secretary of
> Navy by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Among his reforms of the Navy
> inaugurating the practice of making 100 Sailors from the Fleet eligible for
> entrance into the Naval Academy, the introduction of women into the
> and the abolishment of the officers' wine mess. From that time on, the
> strongest drink aboard Navy ships could only be coffee and over the years,
> cup of coffee became known as "a cup of Joe".

While it is true that General Order 99, issued by Josephus Daniels on 1 June
1914, did abolish officers' wine messes, these wine messes had only been in
existence since being authorized by Article 1080 of the Navy Regulations in
1893.  Aside from these wine messes, the Navy had been dry since
<begin quote>
the spirit ration was discontinued by act of Congress on 14 July 1862.
"Distilled spirituous liquors" were also banned from all naval vessels
"except as medical stores and upon the order and under the control of the
medical officers of such vessels." Those who are entitled to the spirit
ration will receive a commutation payment of 5 cents per day (in addition to
their regular pay) beginning 1 September [1862].
<end quote>

One wonders whether the abolition of the officers' wine messes in an
otherwise dry Navy was a significant enough event to have inspired a nickname
for coffee.

ref: "Alcohol in the Navy, 1794-1935" on a FAQ list by the Dept. of the Navy,
Naval Historical Center, URL

    - Jim Landau

PS Speaking of urban legends, a naval officer who had much to do with
abolishing spirits in the Navy was the Civil War Admiral Andrew H. Foote.
After the Battle of Fort Henry, Foote, a very religious man given to
preaching sermons to his crews, gave a sermon in which he was quoted as
stating, "Let not thy heart be troubled; Ye believe in God, believe also in
the gunboats."

Unfortunately the story is apochryphal, having been perpetrated by Foote's
nine-year-old niece.

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