Who's Who - Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels Josephus Daniels (1862-1948) served as Secretary of the U.S. Navy from 1912-20.

Appointed President Woodrow Wilson's Secretary to the Navy in 1912, and with a background in journalism, Josephus Daniels instigated a series of administrative reforms and oversaw a modest expansion of the navy from the summer of 1915 in spite of his own pacifist tendencies.

In agreeing to an extension of naval capabilities in mid-1915 Daniels was effectively signing up to the notion of a degree of war preparedness, albeit reluctantly (a previous unwillingness that had led to the resignation of the navy's professional head, Admiral Bradley Allen Fiske).  Daniels worked closely with new Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Benson in overseeing naval expansion.

Nevertheless Daniels came under heavy conservative criticism both before and during U.S. involvement in the First World War, chiefly on account of the navy's limited preparedness for war.  For example, battleships ordered in 1915 were eventually only launched in 1919.

Even so, extensive production of destroyers and anti-submarine vessels proved crucial in throwing back German attempts to stifle (predominantly) British commercial links to the U.S.

An advocate of the Fourteen Points clause stipulating the freedom of the seas, its subsequent abandonment by Wilson in the resultant Treaty of Versailles strained relations between the two.

Daniels, who left office in 1920, returned in 1933 to become President Roosevelt's U.S. Ambassador to Mexico.

Having published The Wilson Era in 1944 and Shirt Sleeve Diplomat in 1947, Daniels died in 1948.

Click here to hear Josephus Daniels speak of the readiness of the U.S. Navy to fight during World War One.  Click here to read Daniels' official report detailing the role of the navy during the war.  Click here to read Daniels' account of the Battle of Belleau Wood.

A cartwheel was a particular type of aerial manoeuvre.

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