Kids, two things: One, Cimos is a gift shop and bookstore you may not know about on East Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh. It's breaking into the author-readings business, apparently. Two, Josephus Daniels, who was born during the Civil War, owned The News & Observer when it could fairly claim to be The Old Reliable, Raleigh's much feared, often hated but never ignored daily newspaper and powerful organ of the N.C. Democratic Party. Yes, that Democratic Party, which gave us white supremacy after 1898 and, paradoxically, progressive policies for white people in the first half of the 20th century. Daniels held the critical post of Secretary of the Navy in the World War I years. He hired Franklin D. Roosevelt as his undersecretary and was FDR's Southern sounding board throughout Roosevelt's presidency.
All the while, he controlled—with two of his sons—the N&O. Ah, those were the newspaper days, before Daniels' heirs sold to a chain and stood back as the combination of corporate ownership and competition from the Internet brought the N&O to its knees. Lee A. Craig, a business historian and head of the economics department at N.C. State, is the author of Josephus Daniels: His Life and Times (University of North Carolina Press, 2013). He presents Daniels as a study in contradictions, a mirror in which to see what industrial capitalism, the newspaper industry and the Democratic Party got right in the 20th century, and what they got terribly wrong that drags us down still. —Bob Geary