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Josephus Daniels

His Life and Times

Lee A. Craig

Publication Year: 2013

As a longtime leader of the Democratic Party and key member of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet, Josephus Daniels was one of the most influential progressive politicians in the country, and as secretary of the navy during the First World War, he became one of the most important men in the world. Before that, Daniels revolutionized the newspaper industry in the South, forever changing the relationship between politics and the news media. Lee A. Craig, an expert on economic history, delves into Daniels's extensive archive to inform this nuanced and eminently readable biography, following Daniels's rise to power in North Carolina and chronicling his influence on twentieth-century politics.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-21

For nearly thirty- five years, from the election campaign of 1898 until he became U.S. ambassador to Mexico in 1933, Josephus Daniels was the most powerful man in North Carolina. Governors came and went, but Daniels and his flagship newspaper, the Raleigh News and Observer (N&O), stayed. During President Woodrow Wilson’s two terms in office (1913–21), Daniels ...

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1. The Loveliest Village of the Plain

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pp. 1-40

Throughout his life, Josephus Daniels emphasized his humble roots in the sandy soils of North Carolina’s coastal plain. Those roots were never quite as humble as Daniels insisted, but they were humble enough. Daniels’s father, also named Josephus, was a first-generation American. Father and son were named for the first-century historian Flavius Josephus, whose eyewitness account of the Jewish...

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2. A Member of the Fourth Estate

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pp. 41-80

Although Mary Cleaves Daniels was not poor by the standards of the postbellum South, when she arrived in Wilson in the fall of 1865, she was close enough to poor that the wolf could be heard at the door. Her sons were exposed to the more prosperous elements of coastal plain society, however, as they grew up in the Wilson Post Office, in addition to being nurtured by Mary Cleaves’s own genteel...

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3. Center Stage

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pp. 81-122

In becoming the owner of the State Chronicle in 1885, Josephus Daniels laid the foundation for a move up the economic ladder. His next objective was to move up the social ladder. A judicious marriage might help on that front. Those who knew Daniels well would have expected him to marry and settle down. Despite the...

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4. Fusion

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pp. 123-164

The Democratic Party’s success in the election of 1892 did not usher in an era of Democratic dominance in Washington or Raleigh. The party soon faced a disastrous schism over the gold standard (backed by the so-called goldbugs) and the silver standard (backed by the Silverites). In North Carolina, Democratic governor Elias...

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5. A Nuisance and Disturber

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pp. 165-206

Daniels resigned from the Cleveland administration in the summer of 1895, and he was soon back in Raleigh full time, running the News and Observer. The infusion of new capital and Daniels’s vigorous management revived the N&O. The paper had no serious daily competitor, and its circulation quickly reached 10,000...

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6. Cup-a-Joe

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pp. 207-246

If the pen is mightier than the sword, then Josephus Daniels was arguably the mightiest man in North Carolina following the white supremacy campaigns of 1898 and 1900. Of the state’s other leaders during those years, only Furnifold Simmons could rival Daniels in political clout, and beginning in 1901, Simmons spent much of his time serving in the U.S. Senate. In the decades that followed the victories of 1898 and 1900, no one else spent as much time at the apex...

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7. Splendid Little Wars

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pp. 247-288

American diplomat John Hay will forever have a place in the history books if for no other reason than for his characterization of the Spanish-American conflict as that “splendid little war.”1 The phrase has come to be associated with wars that might or might not have been little but were by no means splendid. Among these were several Latin American campaigns overseen by Josephus Daniels during his...

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8. The Great War

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pp. 289-330

On June 28, 1914, the presumed heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his morganatic wife, Sophia, toured the imperial outpost of Sarajevo. As they were driven through the streets, Gavrilo Princip, a young Bosnian nationalist, emerged from the sparse crowd and shot...

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9. To the Bitter End

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pp. 331-372

As the Great War ground on, it disrupted Josephus Daniels’s usually quiet domestic life. Following America’s entry, his most acute personal concern was the appropriate role in the war effort for his two eldest sons, both of whom were old enough to perform military service. When the United States entered the war, Joe Jr. was twenty- two years old and serving his appren-...

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10. Mexican Sunset

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pp. 373-416

In the winter of 1865, a small group of young, reasonably well- heeled Con-federate veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee, created a fraternal organization that took its name from the Greek word kuklos, meaning circle, group, or assembly. Thus the kuklos clan, which soon became the Ku Klux Klan, represented an inane redundancy, meaning literally group group or clan clan. ...


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pp. 417-452


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pp. 453-462


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pp. 463-474

E-ISBN-13: 9781469608105
E-ISBN-10: 1469608103
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469606958
Print-ISBN-10: 146960695X

Illustrations: 24 illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 842883502
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Josephus Daniels

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Subject Headings

  • Daniels, Josephus, 1862-1948.
  • Cabinet officers -- United States -- Biography.
  • Ambassadors -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States. Dept. of the Navy -- Biography.
  • Press and politics -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1901-1953.
  • Publishers and publishing -- North Carolina -- Biography.
  • Newspaper publishing -- North Carolina -- History.
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