Josephus Daniels was born 18 May 1862 in Washington, North Carolina. As editor and publisher of the News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, he became a major editorial voice in the south, although he was an unrepentant lifelong white supremacist. He was appointed Secretary of the Navy for President Woodrow Wilson’s administration in 1913. His significant naval reforms included abolishing alcohol on board ships, introduction of women into the service, and establishment of service schools on board ships and stations. He had 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 U.S. Naval Academy annually. Under his leadership, the Navy expanded greatly and fought effectively during World War I. He resigned as Secretary of the Navy in 1921, returning to his job as editor and publisher of the News and Observer.
From 1933 to 1942, Daniels served as ambassador to Mexico. After furthering President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor” policy with Mexico, he devoted the remainder of his life to editing and writing a number of books, including Our Navy at War and Life of Woodrow Wilson.
He died in Raleigh on 15 January 1948. USS Josephus Daniels (DLG/CG-27) was named in his honor. The ship served the Navy for more than 28 years.