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By EMILY NEWELL BLAIR
UNDER the United States Council of National Defense there has been built up, in addition to a central machinery in Washingington that has played a vital part in organizing our civilian and economic forces for victory, a complete defense system consisting of organizations in 4,000 counties, with units of the Woman's Committee in practically every community, and with some 164,000 community and municipal units.
The Council of National Defense was not created merely as a war emergency body. It was established as a first step in preparedness before the country was aligned on either side of the great conflict then raging across the world. It was in August, 1916, that the act of Congress was approved charging the Secretaries of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor with the "co-ordination of industries and resources for the national security and welfare" and with the "creation of relations which will render possible in time of need the immediate concentration and utilization of the resources of the nation." And it was with questions of preparedness that it busied itself the first year of its existence.
It devoted itself, first of all, to organizing its administrative machinery, which consisted, as provided by law, of an Advisory Commission to consist of not more than seven persons,
each of whom shall have special knowledge of some Industry, public utility, or the development of some natural resource, or be otherwise qualified, in the opinion of the council, for the performance of such duties as to supervise and direct investigations, and make recommendations to the President and the heads of the executive departments, as to location of railroads with reference to the frontier of the United States; the co-ordination of military, Industrial, and commercial purposes In the locations of railroads and highways: the mobilization of military and naval resources of defense: the Increase of the domestic production of articles and materials essential to support of
armies and of the public during the Interruption of foreign commerce; the development of seagoing transportation.
To carry out this great task $200,000 was appropriated by the act. The men appointed upon the Advisory Commission were: Daniel Willard, in charge of the transportation and communication problems; Howard E. Coffin, munitions and manufacturing; Julius Rosenwald, supplies; Bernard M. Baruch, raw materials, minerals and metals; Dr. Hollis Godfrey, engineering and education; Samuel Gompers, labor, and Dr. Franklin Martin, medicine and surgery. Both the council and this Advisory Commission met several times a week for discussion, separately and jointly. The administration of the council was centred in the Director, and the various committees having in charge special activities or tasks were immediately under his supervision. He in turn made reports to the council, which made recommendations to the heads of the executive departments and referred specific problems to the various sections of the Advisory Committee, the Director serving as the connecting link between the two bodies. This responsibility fell upon W. S. Gifford, the first Director of the council and now Controller of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.
HOW THE WORK DEVELOPED Holding itself in readiness to meet any demands that might come upon it and evolving to meet each one as it came, the council not only grew from a small body employing five persons and occupying three rooms in an office building, into an organization with 1,600 people on its payroll, filling a whole block; but it developed from a compact unit to a large system with terminals in the distant prairies and subordinate bodies covering many ranges of activity and interest.
The council was not fully organized until March 3, 1917. War was declared April 6. Like all things else in America, the council moved at once from a peace to a war basis. Its duty was clear. It must serve as a connecting link between America at peace and America as a machine for victory. The President had said that it was the spirit of a people that must be mobilized. It was the mobilization not alone of the resources of the country, but of this spirit that the council undertook. Everywhere both men and women placed themselves and their resources unsparingly at the service of their country. The council, though its machinery had not been for executive action, made of itself a channel for centralizing and directing this voluntary effort.
WAR INDUSTRIES BOARD As this work progressed and new and greater tasks loomed ahead, the council went further and, adapting its elastic structure to the need, planned and initiated new, permanent, or emergency agencies of the Government. Most important of these agencies, perhaps, was the War Industries Board. Men from industry and the professions rallied to the aid of the Government, serving on the various committees of the council, practically without compensation. The general spirit underlying these original committees was fundamentally that of business organization itself in aid of the Government. It is probable that at this particular stage in the progress of the war no plan could have produced more effectual results in so brief a time. The natural process of administration gradually eliminated these industrial committees and substituted for them a closely knit scheme of sections under the general head of the War Industries Board.
One of the most important of these sections, in view of the value of its contribution toward the prosecution of the war, and the policy it later contributed to the basic plan of the War Industries Board, was the Commercial Economy Board, established by the council March 24, 1917, to study and advise how commercial business might best meet the demands to be made on it by the war. It was apparent that many men and materials ordinarily employed in these activities
would have to be taken for war work and fighting. That this might be done without needless hardship to business and civilians dependent on it for supplies, the board determined to find out what activities within the various lines of business were nonessential, and to reduce them. Concerns which lost men by the draft were asked to get along, as far as possible, without replacing them. Plans were made to prevent shortages of material by the conservation of the supply known to be available.
CO-OPERATION WITH BUSINESS
This board had no power of legal control. It accomplished results by voluntary co-operation with the businesses affected. Discovering where a waste existed, or economy was needed, it studied the methods of production or delivery as the case might be, and originated a campaign for conservation. Notable was the undertaking to stop the return of unsold bread to bakers from retailers. Among other achievements of the board were the cutting down in numbers of retail delivery service; the conservation of wool and leather, by lessening the varieties of goods offered in the market; conservation of paint, linseed oil and tinplate by reducing shades of house paints manufactured, and eliminating certain sizes of cans, and economy of rubber by standardization of automobile tires.
The forerunner of the War Industries Board was known as the General Munitions Board, which had begun the work of determining ways to meet the warindustry needs of the Government by co-ordinating the making of purchases by the army and navy, assisting in the acquisition of raw material, and establishing precedence of orders between the military and industrial needs of the country.
In May, 1918, the entire War Industries Board, including the Commercial Economy Board, which became its Conservation Division, was formally separated from the council. This marked the end of the council's task in planning new machinery to meet new war needs. In the Aircraft Board, the rebirth of the Shipping Committee into the Shipping Board, the absorption of the Committee on Coal Production into the Fuel Administration, and other agencies which it initiated and developed, the same process of separation and final allocation took its course. To discuss each of the various committees and sections is impossible within the limitations of a magazine article. Suffice it to mention as among the most important, the Commercial Economy Board, the Industrial Inventory, Highways Transport, Raw Materials, Supplies, and Labor Committees, and the General Medical Board and Medical Section.
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH While the business men of the country were serving gratuitously in the War Industries Board and other departments of the council, the scientific men of the country with equal generosity were working under another department, that of science and research. In April, 1916, when the attack on the Sussex had greatly increased the tension of our relations with Germany, the National Academy of Science had voted to offer its services in organizing the scientific resources of the country. The offer was accepted, and the academy constituted the National Research Council, comprising the chiefs of the technical bureaus of the army and navy, the heads of the Government bureaus engaged in scientific research, a group of investigators representing educational institutions and research foundations, and another group including representatives of industrial and engineering research. On Feb. 28, 1917, the Council of National Defense passed a resolution expressing its recognition of this organization and requesting its co-operation. Soon afterward the Research Council became the Department of Science and Research of the council, in which capacity it served to direct and mobilize the research work of the country's scientific men.
For the funds to carry on this work it has drawn partly on the President's fund and partly on private resources and contributions of its own. Among its important functions was to act as advisory agent of the Signal Corps; to secure, classify, and disseminate scientific, technical, and industrial research informa
tion, especially relating to war problems, and the interchange of such information between the Allies in Europe and the United States to co-operate with the War College in supplying information relating to topographical, geographical, and related subjects; to report upon the work of the Patent Office in the hope of finding means to improve the existing procedure. \ Among the far-reaching results of its' activities was a collection of a large, amount of information regarding materials for rapid highway construction and of concrete available for ships; the development of a non-leakable gasoline tank for aviators; of five new types of signaling lamps; filters and color screens for increasing visibility; an elaborate investigation of the relative merits of monoculars and binoculars; the organization of the sound ranging work in the army; a new method of avoiding electrostatic dangers to balloons, and determining the initial speed of projectiles; a new optical range finder, and an increase in the production of optical glass. In the divisions of medicine and the related sciences of chemistry, geology, and geography much was accomplished of a nature helpful for times of peace as well as of war.
COMMITTEE ON LABOR Equally important to the successful mobilization of the people was the work accomplished at the very outset by the Committee on Labor, of which Samuel Gompers, a member of the Advisory Commission, was Chairman. Even before the declaration of war he called together representatives of organized labor who discussed the situation and took a definite stand as to labor's willingness to support the Government. Through the appointment of subsidiary and Executive Committees, Mr. Gompers successfully mobilized labor for the war. Notable among the achievements of this committee, supported and authorized by the council, was the initiating and drafting of the War-Risk Insurance bill, providing various compensations for soldiers and sailors and their dependents; the publication of a statement defining labor's position in the war; the visit of the British labor delegates to America, and the adoption of a declaration to the effect that economic and legislative standards should not be lowered unless the Council of National Defense should indicate that such a departure was essential for the national defense.
ORGANIZING STATE COUNCILS
The declaration of war found citizens in every part of the country with a desire to serve the defense and common welfare. Patriotic organizations of various natures sprang up over night. The office of the council was besieged with requests for information as to how these bodies should proceed in order to be useful. In several States, especially along the Atlantic seaboard, committees of public safety were proceeding to work. On April 6, 1917, the council established a Section on Co-operation with the States. It was apparent that the work of these organizations should be directed by some central body in each State, while at the same time there should be in Washington some division to act as a clearing house between these State bodies, to secure uniformity where uniformity was desirable, and to make the services of the State organizations available to the various branches of the Federal Government. To meet this need the Secretary of War, in his capacity as Chairman of the Council of Defense, issued to Governors of all the States, and to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, a request that they create State Councils of Defense, or similar committees, with broad powers, representative of the resources, industries, and activities of each State, to cooperate with the National Council.
Following this action the council called in Washington, on May 2, 1917, a conference of the States. Every State in the Union sent representatives, and twelve Governors attended. The conference was opened by the Chairman of the council and addressed by the President of the United States. There was a frank discussion of the needs of the nation, and a resolution was passed pledging the States to the co-operation desired.
By the end of June every State had a State Council, either by appointment of the Governor or by act of the State Leg
islature. The members were chosen on a nonpartisan basis. These State Councils became the recognized war bodies in each State, and it was the function oi the Section on Co-operation with States, which later became known as the State Councils Section, to transmit to them the requests and recommendations of the Council of National Defense and the other departments and new war organizations in Washington, and, through recommendations, to assist the State Councils to accomplish the ends sought; to apprise the appropriate Federal authorities of the development of situations of importance throughout the country, of the needs of various States, and of the temper of public opinion; to act as a clearing house between the States, carrying to each the experience of the other.
Immediately the National Council recommended to the various State Councils the organization, under the jurisdiction of the State Council, of County and Township Councils of Defense.
By the beginning of 1918, State and local Councils of Defense had been organized in nearly every State. It is estimated that altogether there are 4,000 of them. The council of defense system, as it began to be called, was recognized both at Washington and in the States as an effective means of reaching the individual citizen, of mobilizing the efforts of the whole people in winning the war, and of transmitting the thoughts and desires of the people to Washington. Its terminal unit was the community council, not merely a committee, as was the State and county council, but the community itself, with all its citizens and agencies organized for national service. Without these community councils the channels of communication of the defense system would vanish into thin air; with them, the Federal Government had a direct line of communication through the State Council to every citizen in the community. By June, 1918, forty-two States reported these terminal organizations. It is estimated that there were at the time of the signing of the armistice 164,000 of these community councils attached to the National Defense system.
In addition to building up this vast system, which, since it meant the mobilization of the spirit of the people, was an achievement in itself, much work was specially done in the interest of national defense. Help was given to various Federal agencies, among them the Departments of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Treasury, Justice, the Shipping Board, the Food and Fuel Administration, and the American Red Cross. So long would be the list of the noteworthy activities of the Council of Defense system that it would be impossible to enumerate them. Perhaps the average man and woman knew its work best through the elimination of certain practices in the business world in the interests of economy and conservation of man power such as the efforts to cut down the loss by fire and rats, the safeguarding of live stock from railroad crossings, the cutting down of bread and milk deliveries, and the "carry-home-your-own-parcels" campaign.
But other services were rendered to the public, among them the assistance given to the military arm of the Government in the detection of deserters and in the operation of the draft boards; the stimulation of food production; the development of the Rural Motor Express; the requisitioning of country road crews for thrashing and haying; the establishment of room registration bureaus; legal advice given to men in service; reports to the Alien Property Custodian; social welfare work among industiial plants, and vice control. Perhaps the most important of all State Council work, though the most difficult to report, was that whose purpose was the building of the civilian morale through the community councils by means of "liberty sings," financial and other support to four-minute speakers, plans for giving honors and memorials to men in military service, and the securing of materials for historical records.
ORGANIZING THE WOMEN While the Council of National Defense was perfecting the State Council machinery it was at work mobilizing another large division of the citizenship, the women. Just fifteen days after war was declared the woman power was called to
service by the appointment of the Woman's Committee of the Council. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw was its Chairman, and ten other women, Miss Ida M. Tarbell, Mrs. Joseph P. Lamar, Mrs. Philip North Moore, Miss Maude Wetmore, Mrs. Stanley J. McCormick, Miss Hannah J. Patterson, Mrs. Josiah M. Cowles, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, Mrs. Antoinette Funk, and Miss Agnes Nestor were named to serve with her. This committee was primarily an advisory committee to the council, but was especially charged with the duty of co-ordinating and centralizing the work of women throughout the country.
It therefore organized in each State a division of its committee, and these State divisions were in turn urged to organize county and local units of the Woman's Committee. In co-operation with the State Councils Section, -the Woman's Committee urged that State Councils should recognize, as the official State agency for woman's war work, the State divisions and local units thus organized. In the majority of States this was done, and the Chairmen of the State divisions were appointed members of their respective State Councils.
WOMEN'S DIVERSE ACTIVITIES
A faint idea of the extent of the women's activities may be gleaned from the mere mention of some of them, namely: Registration for service, which in twenty-four States recorded the names of women who were willing to give- all or part time to the war needs of the country, and which provided names of many workers afterward utilized in welfare work, civil service jobs, and to replace men going into military service; the assistance given to the work of the home demonstration agents, the promotion of war gardens, the relieving of the agricultural labor shortage by providing women workers and equipment for their accommodation, and relieving farmers' wives of part of the household labor; community enterprises of many sorts for the preservation of food and for additional markets and food exchanges; the making of a thorough survey of cookedfood agencies; extensive and intensive co-operation with the Food Administra