Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Josephus Daniels (1913–1921): Secretary of the Navy

Josephus Daniels was born in Washington, North Carolina, on May 18, 1862. After attending the Wilson Collegiate Institute and earning a degree in law at the University of North Carolina, Daniels went in the newspaper business, editing the Raleigh State Chronicle. He then consolidated the Chronicle with the North Carolinian and the News and Observer to form North Carolina's most influential newspaper: the Raleigh News and Observer.

President Woodrow Wilson appointed Daniels secretary of the Navy in March 1913, a post Daniels would hold until the end of the Wilson administration. During that time, he founded the Naval Consulting Board, asking famed inventor Thomas Edison to become its chair; the board later established the Naval Research Lab.

Daniels broke with tradition by allowing women to serve in the Navy; he also required the use of dog tags on every sailor and banned the use of alcohol on navy vessels. After leaving office in March 1921, Daniels returned to editing the News and Observer before serving as U.S. ambassador to Mexico. He died on January 15, 1948, in Raleigh, North Carolina.