Josephus Daniels was born in North Carolina in 1862. He became editor of the weekly Raleigh State Chronicle in 1885. A progressive, he campaigned for public funded schools and universities. He also opposed the railroad and tobacco trusts. In 1895 he became editor of the Raleigh Observer and built it into one of the South's leading newspapers.
An active member of the Democratic Party Daniels was a long-time supporter of William J. Bryan. In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Daniels as his Secretary of the Navy, a post he was to hold for seven years.
Daniels returned to office in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked him to be United States Ambassador to Mexico. Books by Daniels include The Wilson Era (1944) and Shirt Sleeve Diplomat (1947).