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William Franklin Knox (January 1, 1874 – April 28, 1944) was an American politician, newspaper editor, and publisher.
During most of World War II, he served as both the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1936 and Secretary of the Navy under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Knox was named in Adolf Hitler's address on December 11, 1941, in which Hitler called for a German declaration of war against the US. Born in Boston, he attended Alma College and served with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War.
He became a newspaper editor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a vocal Republican supporter during the war.
He urged the United States to join World War I and served in France as an artillery officer.
A ticket of Alf Landon and Knox was sent to the 1936 Republican National Convention by Alf Landon and Knox, but they were defeated by Roosevelt and John Nance Garner in the 1936 election. Knox provided assistance to the Allies after World War II broke out.
Roosevelt named him Secretary of the Navy in the hopes of fostering bipartisanship in 1940.
He presided over a naval buildup and called for the internment of Japanese Americans.
Knox served as Secretary of the Navy until his death in 1944.
William Franklin Knox was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Both his parents were Canadian; Sarah C. (Barnard), a Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island woman, and his father, William Edwin Knox, was from New Brunswick. His family and his family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his father owned a grocery store when he was nine years old. He attended Alma College in Michigan, where he was a member of the Zeta Sigma fraternity. He volunteered with the US Army in the Spanish-American War in his senior year. He later extended his studies with additional readings and coursework, and the college's board of trustees granted him a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1898.
He served in Cuba with the First Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, Theodore Roosevelt's famed Rough Riders. He was a member of Troop D led by Captain Robert Huston. Knox served in Cuba during the Battle of Las Guasimas and San Juan Hill as a member of the D Troop.