Josephus Daniels

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Josephus Daniels (18 May, 1862 – 15 January, 1948) served as the forty-first Secretary of the Navy from 1913 through 1921.

Life & Career

This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Josephus Daniels was born on 18 May, 1862 in Washington, North Carolina.

As editor and publisher of the Raleigh, N.C., News and Observer, he became a major editorial voice in the South. He was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Kenneth Hagan wrote that Daniels "was an odd mixture for a secretary of the navy".[1] As a southern populist he was at odds with the attitudes of the Navy's senior line officers, something not helped by his advocacy of disarmament and his prohibitionism. This last trait earned him the ire of the officer corps when he abolished the officers' wine mess.

At meetings of the General Board he referred to the naval members of the Board as "statesmen" and sat beside Board President George Dewey instead of in the presiding officer's chair, more as a courtesy than a sign of agreement.[2]

Consistent with his populist roots, he evinced great interest in the common man, favoring promotion from the ranks and inaugurating the practice of making 100 sailors from the fleet eligible for entrance into the Naval Academy annually. Despite his pacifism the Navy expanded greatly during his tenure, and fought effectively in the First World War.

Daniels resigned as head of the Navy Department in 1921, returning to his job as editor and publisher of the News and Observer until his appointment as Ambassador to Mexico from 1933 to 1942. After furthering President Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor" policy with Mexico, he devoted the remainder of his life to editing and the writing of a number of books, including Our Navy at War and Life of Woodrow Wilson.

He died at Raleigh, North Carolina, on 15 January, 1948.

See Also


  • Campbell, W. Joseph (1999). "'One of the Fine Figures of American Journalism': A Closer Look at Josephus Daniels of the Raleigh 'News and Observer'". American Journalism 16 (4): pp 37–55.
  • Craig, Lee A. (2013). Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1919). The Navy and the Nation. New York City: George H. Doran Company.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1922). Our Navy at War. Washington, D.C.: Pictorial Bureau.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1924). The Life of Woodrow Wilson, 1856-1924. Philadelphia: Universal Book and Bible House.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1939). Tar Heel Editor. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1941). Editor in Politics. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1944). The Wilson Era: Years of Peace, 1910-1917. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Daniels, Josephus. (1947). Shirt-sleeve Diplomat. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Hagan, Kenneth J. (1992). This People's Navy: The Making of American Sea Power. Paperback ed. New York: The Free Press.
  • Kittredge, Tracy Barrett (1921). Naval Lessons of the Great War: A Review of the Senate Naval Investigation of the Criticisms by Admiral Sims of the Policies and Methods of Josephus Daniels. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Company.
  • Morrison, Joseph L. (1966) Josephus Daniels: The Small-d Democrat. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Thelander, Theodore A. (1966). "Josephus Daniels and the Publicity Campaign for Naval and Industrial Preparedness before World War I". North Carolina Historical Review 43 (3): pp. 316–332.
  • Williams, William J. (1996). "Josephus Daniels and the U.S. Navy's Shipbuilding Program during World War I". Journal of Military History 60 (1): pp. 7–38.


Naval Appointments
Preceded by
George von L. Meyer
Secretary of the Navy
5 Mar, 1913 – 4 Mar, 1921
Succeeded by
Edwin Denby


  1. Hagan. This People's Navy. p. 244.
  2. Hagan. This People's Navy. p. 244.