At the time of his death in 1944, William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette, was a national celebrity, proclaimed one of the truly great Americans of his age. Life magazine called him "a living symbol of small-town simplicity and kindliness and common sense." During his career White had managed to expand his circle of influence far beyond Emporia Kansas to include most of the nation. By the end of his life he had become a nationally acclaimed journalist and author of biographies, novels, and short stories. He was also widely known for his shrewd commentary on contemporary events in the national media. An influential Republican political leader, he helped found the Progressive party and was a longtime advocate of social reform and individual rights. But what endeared him most to his contemporaries was that, in spite of national fame, he remained first and foremost a small-town newspaperman. First published posthumously in 1946, White's Autobiography was immediately hailed as a classic portrait, not simply of White himself, but of the men and women who transformed America from an agrarian society to a powerful industrial nation in the years before World War I.