Leaving school and family at the age of fifteen, Clayton made a fortune as founder of the largest cotton brokerage firm in the world and became an outspoken and influential activist for improved government fiscal policies. In 1944, he was appointed by President Roosevelt to serve as assistant secretary of state for economic affairs, his passionate goal being to bring into existence a worldwide free economy.
A businessman-statesman genius, Clayton is a forgotten titan of the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. Concerning Clayton's rejection, for family reasons, of a presidential appointment to serve as secretary of state, Fossedal writes, "He felt he had contributed his talents to the nation's war effort and was content with his place in history. In fact, he was one of the few men who served in Washington, D.C., in those critical years who did not write his memoirs or cultivate a biographer…. This book is meant to be Will Clayton's memoirs."