Joseph Lincoln Steffens, the American political writer and journalist, was born in San Francisco on April 6, 1866, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Louisa Steffens. He was sent to a military school from which he was expelled for "drunkenness." Steffens got his Ph.B. degree from the university in 1889 and then went to Europe, where he studied for three years at Berlin, Heidelberg, Leipzig, and the Sorbonne. A series of sensational political exposes were gathered together into an even more sensational book, which Steffens entitled The Shame of the Cities. In 1919, he served on the secret Bullitt mission to Soviet Russia, a visit that was to have a great effect upon his general political outlook. One of the secrets of the charm he exerted even upon some of those whom he most opposed was that he liked people, including what he called "honest crooks" and "good bad capitalists.".