The Locker Room

Jonah Goldberg on Josephus Daniels

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:29 PM

In his new book's chapter on the political ascent of Franklin Roosevelt, Jonah Goldberg mentions the founder of the News & Observer:

His immediate boss, patron, and mentor was the famed progressive newspaperman Josephus Daniels. As both secretary of the navy and a journalist, Daniels represented all of the bizarre contradictions from today's perspective of the progressive movement. He was a thoroughgoing racist whose North Carolina newspapers regularly published horrendously offensive cartoons and editorials about blacks. But he was also deeply committed to a host of progressive reforms, from public education to public health to women's suffrage. A longtime political ally of William Jennings Bryan, Daniels could sound both pacifist and belligerent notes, though once ensconced in the Wilson administration, he was a dutiful advocate for "preparedness," expansion of the navy, and, ultimately, war.

After explaining that "Daniels was constantly outflanked" by Roosevelt's "belligerence," Goldberg turns to Daniels again in explaining the effort to maintain World War I-style mobilization efforts after the end of the conflict.

Daniels partly out of a desire to scare the country into ratifying the Treaty of Versailles warned that America might need to "become a super-Prussia." The administration with Daniels and Roosevelt at the forefront pushed aggressively but unsuccessfully for a peacetime draft. 

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