Edwards was born on March 9, 1875 in South Charleston, Ohio.
Edwards began his career in the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C. in 1891 to 1892. In 1893, he returned to Ohio to join the Bank of South Charleston. In 1896, he was chosen as the Assistant Secretary of the Ohio Bankers’ Association. In 1897 he returned to Washington to become the secretary to Ohio Congressman Walter L. Weaver before becoming the confidential secretary of Postmaster GeneralHenry Clay Payne.
In 1902, he joined the U.S. Treasury Department as private secretary to Treasury SecretaryLeslie M. Shaw. In 1906, President Roosevelt appointed the then thirty year-old Edwards Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under George B. Cortelyou, who gave him charge of all of the financial bureaus of the Treasury Department. In 1908, Edwards resigned from Treasury and Louis A. Coolidge, former secretary to Henry Cabot Lodge, was appointed by President Roosevelt as his replacement.
After leaving the Treasury Department, he became the receiver for the New Amsterdam National Bank in New York City. While receiver, he sold bonds and stock of the New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co., Ft. Wayne & Wabash Valley Traction Co. among others. By October 1908, he was authorizing a divided to shareholders.