Next time you go to a coffee shop to order a cup of “Joe,” you are referring the 41st secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels (1862-1948). A devout evangelical Christian, he imposed prohibition on all naval ships and shore stations with his infamous “General Order 99” of June 1, 1914. Among other things, it directed that the officer’s wine mess be replaced with coffee urns on all naval ships, whereupon naval officers derisively referred thereafter to a “cup of Josephus,” which soon became a cup of Joe. He also banned condoms from Navy ships and campaigned to keep prostitutes at least five miles away from any naval base.
Daniels was a strong Navy secretary and had many accomplishments, including the rapid buildup of the fleet and its readiness prior to World War I, which enabled the Navy’s excellent wartime performance. He brought Thomas Edison in to advise on keeping the Navy at the cutting edge of technology and mentored his own assistant secretary, Franklin Roosevelt, for eight years.
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Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times
Lee A. Craig
University of North Carolina, $35