The Joy of Living

Chapter 16: The Council and Commission Make Rapid Progress

Franklin H. Martin


ΑPRΙL 12—Council of National Defense. Howard Coffin, the Chairman of the Committee on Munitions of the Commission, had devoted much time and study to the development of our aircraft activity, and the subject had been discussed at length by the Council and Commission. But it was not until April 12 that actual steps were taken to form a separate unit to concentrate upon this important branch. On that day a letter was read at the meeting of the Council by Dr. C. D. Walcott, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, an official body which had been formed March 3, 1915.

This letter, bearing date of April 10, recommended that the Council appoint an Aircraft Production Board "to consider the situation in relation to the quantity production of aircraft in the United States, and to co-operate with the officers of the Army and Navy, and of other departments interested in the production and delivery to these departments of the needed aircraft in accordance with the requirements of each department." It further recommended "that a joint technical board of the Army and Navy be organized for determining specifications and methods of inspection for all aircraft required for the two services."

Commissioner Coffin was asked to take the Chairmanship of the Board and to select the personnel thereof.

"The Director read a letter, of date April 9, 1917, from the Secretary of Labor:

"I am advised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of this Department that a large amount of sickness and a number of deaths have resulted from the

( 137) use of tetrachlorethane in this country in the preparation of the wings of airplanes. I am also advised that a non-poisonous substitute has been found by the British, the chemical composition of which for military reasons has not been disclosed...."

The Director was instructed to communicate with the Bureau of Standards and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in an effort to obtain from them the formula for the non-poisonous substitute mentioned. Secretary Baker stated he would cable to England if the information could not be otherwise obtained.

Advisory Commission. The action pertaining to the proposed Aircraft Production Board was duly reported by the Director at the meeting of the Commission later that same afternoon, and "it was understood that Commissioner Coffin would proceed with the organization of such a board and report to the Commission at the next meeting."

The development of this branch of our defense thenceforward occupied a conspicuous and important rôle in the Government's activities.


The question of Federal censorship of the press was first introduced at a meeting of the Advisory Commission on April 2, and presented to a Joint Meeting on the following day. Consideration was deferred, as Secretary Baker advised that Secretary Daniels, himself a veteran newspaper man, had been placed in charge of this important matter by the President, following Cabinet discussions.

"The President's action in creating the Committee on Public Information was based on the following letter signed by the Secretaries of State, War, and Navy:

"April 13, 1917.


"Even though the co-operation of the press has been generous and patriotic, there i s a steadily developing need for some authoritative agency to assure the publication of all the vital facts of national defense. Premature or ill-advised announcements of policies, plans, and specific activities, whether innocent or otherwise, would constitute a source of danger... .

"It is our opinion that the two functions—censorship and publicity—can be joined in honesty and with profit, and we recommend the creation of a

( 138) Committee of Public Information. The chairman should be a civilian, preferably some writer of proved courage, ability, and vision, able to gain the understanding co-operation of the press and at the same time rally the authors of the country to a work of service. Other members should be the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or an officer or officers detailed to the work by them... .

"The committee, upon appointment, can proceed to the framing of regulations and the creation of machinery that will safeguard all information of value to an enemy and at the same time open every department of government to the inspection of the people as far as possible. Such regulations and such machinery will, of course, be submitted for your approval before becoming effective."[1]

April 14. President Wilson issued the following executive order:

"I hereby create a Committee on Public Information, to be composed of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, and a civilian who shall be charged with the executive direction of the committee. As civilian chairman of the committee I appoint Mr. George Creel. The Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Secretary of the Navy are authorized each to detail an officer or officers to the work of the committee."[1]

Mr. Creel, as Chairman of the Committee on Public Information, directed publication of the Οfficial Bulletin. This was issued daily, except Sunday, from May 10, 1917, until well into 1919, and contained the official news that was released under censorship by the various departments.

Like many innovations which were initiated as war measures, this publication was viewed as a severe curtailment of the prerogatives of the press. However, it was soon accepted, and was looked upon by the press, the officials of the Government, and the people, as one true summary of the progress of the war, so far as the details could be revealed without danger of giving important information to the enemy.


April 15 and 16. At the meeting of the Commission on April 12, I asked that a special joint meeting of the Council and Commission be called, at which I could report upon a conference that I had arranged for Sunday, April 15, and Monday, April 16, to discuss the problem of venereal diseases among the soldiers and sailors. The Sunday discus-

( 139) -sion would bring together the leading professional and lay authorities of the country, and would be under the direction of the Committee on Hygiene and Sanitation of our General Medical Board and the Subcommittees on Venereal Diseases and Alcohol.

Without any formal action, the Commission authorized me to hold the conference, and, without conferring further with the Commission, to report directly to the joint meeting of the Council and Commission on April 17.

Two sessions of the Sunday conference were devoted to the consideration of venereal diseases and the principal contributing factor, excessive use of alcoholic beverages. Resolutions were formulated and a sub-committee appointed to make a formal report of recommendations to the Council. The resolutions:

1. . That the Departments of War and Navy officially recognize that sexual continence i s compatible with health and that it is the best prevention of venereal infections.

2. That the Departments of War and Navy take steps toward the prevention of venereal infections through the exclusion of prostitutes within an effective zone surrounding all places under their control, and by the provision of suitable recreational facilities, the control of the use of alcoholic drinks, and other effective measures.

3. That the said Departments adopt a plan for centralized control of venereal infections through special divisions of their medical services.

4. That the said Departments consider the plan of organization herewith attached."

(This plan provided for the use of existing organizations, clinics for the treatment of venereal diseases, hospitals, etc., on a part-time basis, so that the practitioner of medicine could continue his civil practice part-time, and yet give ample time to his military duties—a plan which had worked most efficiently in Canada and other countries at war.)

The introductory paragraphs of the resolution on Alcohol contained clauses referring to the importance of alcoholic beverages as a factor in spreading venereal diseases in the Army and Navy; the seriousness of those diseases in disabling the soldiers and sailors; impairment of industrial efficiency in munitions factories and on farms through the use of alcoholic beverages; and the enormous quantities of food materials diverted to the manufacture of these beverages which owing to the

( 140) alarming shortage of food reserves should be conserved not only for our own needs, but also for those of our Allies. The resolutions:

"Be It Resolved that the President and Congress be asked to suppress the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquors until after the close of the war.

"We endorse the action of the Army and Navy in prohibiting alcoholic beverages within military places i n their control and we further recommend that the sale or use of alcoholic beverages be prohibited to soldiers and sailors within an effective zone about such places."

Although the resolutions were approved in their entirety by the Executive Committee of the General Medical Board on Monday, April 16, later consideration convinced me that, for presentation to the

Council, the recommendations would better be confined to the Army and Navy. Therefore, the paragraphs bearing upon other than strictly military considerations were, for the time, omitted, and the concluding paragraph was converted into a resolution, reading:

"Be It Resolved, that we endorse the action of the Army and Navy in the prohibition of alcoholic beverages within military places; and we further recommend the prohibition of the use of alcoholic beverages within an effective zone about such places."

April 17. Early on this morning Chairman Willard of the Commission hurriedly called me by telephone and announced that he was calling a special meeting of the Commission for 10 o'clock to consider the action of our conference on venereal diseases that was to be reported to the joint meeting of the Council and Commission at 11 :30. "The action of your Sunday conference has precipitated a great amount of criticism and opposition that may require suppression of your report," was the substance of his further comment.

I was much concerned. Never before during our four months' association had the action of my Section been criticized or given anything but enthusiastic support by my confrères.

Advisory Commission. As I reached the committee room a few minutes before the meeting was to be called to order, I was met by Messrs. Rosenwald, Baruch, Coffin, and other members of the Commission, all of whom, including the Director, were ready for action. They informally inquired: "What have you been doing?" as they

( 140) showed telegrams and letters of protest from everywhere. Too amazed to say anything, and not appreciating what it was all about, I decided to make no replies until the opening of the meeting revealed the difficulty. I did not have long to wait, as everybody was there in advance of the specified time, and the meeting was soon called to order.

Immediately, and without preliminaries, my friend, Samuel Gompers, who was sitting across the table from me, jumped up, and, leaning over with his finger pointing to me, began a harangue that astonished me.

"What have you been doing? Sold out to the so-called social hygienists and the prohibition fanatics, long-haired men and short-haired women? You shall not make the war an opportunity for these complacent so-called reformers to accomplish their nefarious work! When have fighting men been preached to on the beneficence of continence? The millennium has not arrived, and until it does your pronouncements of yesterday will not be accepted! Real men will be men! And you employ this subtle propaganda in an appeal to the fathers and mothers of young men to foist prohibition upon the men and women of our country without their consent!"

These were a few of the old Chief's sentiments. He had worked himself into a frenzy, and, as I was now fully aware of what had precipitated this hurried get-together, my sense of humor came to my rescue. I stood, addressed the Chair, calmly observed that we had a scheduled meeting for a half hour hence with the Council, which included members of the Cabinet, and said that I wished to remind the Chair that Commissioner Gompers was out of order—that there was no business before the Commission. Mr. Gompers stopped short, and the Chairman asked me if I had with me the resolutions passed at the Sunday meeting, and which I expected to bring before the Council. I informed him that I had, and that with his consent I would present them and move that they be recommended to the Council. I then read the two sets of resolutions.

As I finished reading, and moved their approval, Mr. Gompers said: "Well, read them all." I replied that I had read the resolutions, all of them that I proposed to present to the Council as recommendations of the General Medical Board.

Mr. Rosenwald immediately said: "I don't see anything the matter

( 142) with those resolutions. I second the recommendations." Messrs. Baruch, Coffin, and the Chairman expressed their approval. It was apparent that the storm was subsiding.

Mr. Gompers, although he had settled down into his usual peaceful manner, was not satisfied that something of the report had not been suppressed. Finally he said, "I would like to amend the final paragraph of the resolution i n reference to alcoholic beverages, by changing the word `prohibition' to `control." I immediately accepted that amendment.

The resolutions were then approved, all members voting but Mr. Gompers. He then inquired i f I myself would present the resolutions to the Council. I said that a committee appointed by the conference would present the resolutions. "Who constitutes the committee?" he inquired. I recited the personnel. "Who will be the spokesman?" I informed him.

He again broke forth in vigorous protest. "That only confirms what I have contended, namely, that this whole movement has been planned to foist prohibition on the public. I protest against the presentation of these resolutions by that individual."

The old Chief was in such a state of mind that I realized everything should be done to appease his wrath. The time was short. We were already due at the Secretary of War's office. The members of the Commission were looking to me for an answer.

I immediately replied that while I did not agree with the premises upon which Mr. Gompers' remarks were based, his last point was well taken. Hence I would assume the responsibility and comply with his request.

I realized that there would be a crisis if this important program of the General Medical Board were to receive the opposition of the leader of organized labor. On the way to Secretary Baker's office Mr. Gompers, to whom I had attached myself, explained his attitude by informing me that hundreds of letters and telegrams in opposition to our plans had been received by the President, the Cabinet officers, and the members of the Commission. I only responded: "Were they all in opposition?"

Joint Meeting. As we arrived at the State, War, and Navy Building, I found the conference rooms crowded. The members of the Cabinet who composed the Council were seated in their usual horseshoe ar=

( 143) -rangement back of the large table, and the seats in front reserved for the seven members of the Commission and the Director. In a semicircle back of us were the committee of the conference, members of the Committee on Hygiene and Sanitation, the Surgeons General, and other members of the General Medical Board, invited guests.

I sought out three members of the committee who had been selected to make the report—the Chairman, Dr. Haven Emerson, and Dr. Theodore Janeway—and invited them into the anteroom. I asked the Chairman to allow Haven Emerson to present the report on venereal diseases, and Dr. Janeway the report on alcoholic beverages. There were momentary protests, but I begged the men not to delay matters and create a suspicion that there were difficulties. They were good soldiers. We then marched back into the room.

Secretary Daniels, who was presiding in the absence of Secretary Baker, beckoned to me. He said, "Doctor, I understand that there is an organized opposition to your resolutions that were adopted Sunday. In conversation with the President and the Secretary of War they have expressed their approval without change. I hope under this pressure you have not altered the resolutions in any way. If so, it is better to adjourn the meeting without action."

"We have had some misunderstanding, but with the change of one word in our resolutions, pertaining to strictly military considerations, they are intact. For heaven's sake," I urged, "don't adjourn the meeting. The Council must provide means of administering the recommendations, which leaves the whole organization of personnel and regulation in our own hands."

This last hurdle having been surmounted on this eventful morning, the meeting proceeded. The resolutions on venereal diseases and alcoholic beverages, as presented to and amended by the Commission, were read by Drs. Emerson and Janeway respectively, and adopted.

Subsequently, a special Commission on Training Camp Activities was appointed by the Council to carry out the provisions of the resolutions, with Mr. Raymond B. Fosdick of New York as Chairman.


No war regulation that was promulgated by the General Medical Board of the Council, nor by any other authority during the war, had a

( 144) more far-reaching effect upon the subsequent history of our country than those simple resolutions that were the outcome of our meeting in Washington on April 15. Mr. Gompers was right. While I am sure the authors of the resolutions did not realize what the consequence might be, nor contemplate any action beyond the control of venereal diseases, the effect was dynamic. Every father and mother of the 5,000,000 civilian boys who were eligible as volunteers or draftees, whether or not the parents themselves had prohibitionary tendencies, welcomed this regulation that would control the use of alcoholic beverages in camps and overseas.

When the camps throughout the land were in operation, visiting relatives found each of the great temporary cities surrounded by a guarded zone that kept out prostitutes and prohibited alcohol; they found also that moving pictures, Y.M.C.A., Knights of Columbus, Salvation Army, and Red Cross rest and recreation houses had been substituted for these menacing influences. Preparation for war involved wholesome influences that frequently did not exist at home! Soft and wholesome drinks were served i n places with entrance doors open; this in contrast to the closed doors and bars of saloons in so many home towns.

What a satisfaction this revelation was to all sane-thinking men and women! Soon those who had been indifferent or even antagonistic to the propaganda for the elimination of intoxicating beverages began to wonder: "Why not? See what i t is doing for our boys, our men, and our women who are now serving i n our camps!"

In a short time this regulation, which applied to soldiers in camps, was extended to every soldier, whether private or officer, wherever he might be. A soldier in uniform could, when on leave, visit hotels, restaurants, and other places where alcoholic drinks were served; but it was made a misdemeanor for the management to serve "liquor" to soldiers in uniform and for the soldier to drink it if he were served.

This measure profoundly influenced the minds of the civilian population of the Nation. Was there ever a more fertile soil or a more promising atmosphere in which the propagandist for temperance could ply his work? The momentum developed by this wartime measure of the medical profession was a firm foundation for the peacetime eighteenth amendment.

( 145) At a special meeting of the Council on May i, the Director presented a draft of a proposed press statement that I had prepared concerning the control of venereal diseases and the regulation of the use of alcohol in the Army and Navy. This was modified and approved. It read in part as follows:

"... Zones about the military commands will ... be created and conditions in these zones will be guarded by military measures so as to prevent the spread of venereal diseases. The two military arms of the Government officially recognize that continence is compatible with health.

"The Council also recommends, as a further solution to the problem, that all military commands be provided with good facilities for the recreation of the troops. It urges that all suitable athletics be encouraged.

"The use of alcoholic beverages on the part of soldiers and sailors in military commands has long been under military control. But the creation now of these military zones will in effect extend such control over the troops when they are off duty out of the commands...."

April 18—Council of National Defense. The activities of the Federal Shipping Board were assuming importance, and it was apparent that a definite understanding should be arrived at to bring closer co-opera-

tion and harmony. Hence the following recommendation by Secretary Lane, made at this special meeting of the Council:

“.. Secretary Lane was requested to confer with Chairman Denman, of the Federal Shipping Board, in an effort to bring about closer co-operation and harmony between the program of the Shipping Board and the needs and activities of the Army and Navy, Chairman Willard's Transportation Committee, and other departments of the Government; and also to confer with Chairman Denman, in conjunction with Secretary Daniels, Secretary Redfield, and Chairman Willard, as to the advisability of delaying construction of the larger battleships and cruisers, to permit the utilization of those shipbuilding facilities in the construction of small ships."

Organized labor was constantly observant of the problems which involved labor adjustments. It was our reaction that labor, under the guidance of Mr. Gompers and Secretary of Labor Wilson, was anxious to play its part in a patriotic manner. These two leaders were concerned lest the Government should be embarrassed by their internal differences, hence:

"The Director brought to the attention of the Council the request made by Commissioner Gompers to the Advisory Commission that his labor com-

( 146) -mittee be authorized to appoint committees on mediation and conciliation, under which local committees would be organized, for the purpose of cooperating with other established mediation agencies in the adjustment of labor disputes. It was moved and carried, that the matter be referred to the Secretary of Labor and the Director."

Big business was alarmed at the prospect of losing its key men, from both the managerial and industrial sides, as many were intent upon enlisting. This was looming as a serious problem at a time when the best services of these important men would be required in the manufacture of munitions. Hence:

"The Director referred to a letter received from Judge Gary, of the U.S. Steel Corporation, stating difficulties encountered in losing men by enlistment, and asking some expression from the Government as to the industrial reserve. Secretary Baker stated he thought it unwise and impolitic to advance at this time any assurance that a particular group or class of men would be excluded."

April 19—Council of National Defense. The Director read the following telegram, framed to be sent over the signature of the Secretary of War to the Governors of the States:

"A National Defense Conference to consist of one delegate from each State for the purpose of considering the relationship of State and Federal activities in the prosecution of the war, and the methods of organization of State and local defense committees and of their co-operation with the Council of National Defense, will be held in Washington at the office of the Secretary of War on Wednesday, May second, at ten a.m.

"I request that you send as a delegate the head, or some representative, of your State Council of Defense or similar committee, if such has been appointed, or if none has been appointed, that you send someone to represent you thereat."


On April 7, Commissioner Willard had been requested by the Council "to call upon the railroads to so organize their business as to lead to the greatest expedition in the movement of freight." In accordance with that request, he wired the presidents of all important railroads in the United States, asking them to meet him in Washington on April 11. Between forty-five and fifty presidents responded to the call, and all

( 147) important railroad systems were represented. Mr. Willard's report continues:

"After hearing a statement of the situation, the railroads unanimously adopted the attached resolution and agreement which sets forth their purpose and also explains the method by which they expect to give effect to that purpose. This resolution was signed by all present at the meeting, and a committee consisting of Messrs. Fairfax Harrison, President, Southern Railway; Samuel Rea, President, Pennsylvania Railroads; Julius Kruttschnitt, Chairman, Executive Committee, Southern Pacific Systems; and Hale Holden, President, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, was appointed to sit permanently in Washington and deal with the matter along the lines indicated in the resolution...."

The resolution:

1. That the whole problem of co-operation with the Government be committed to the present Special Committee on National Defense of the American Railway Association... .

2. That the Special Committee be enlarged by additions to a total of approximately twenty-five members.

3. That an Executive Committee, selected from the twenty-five members of the Special Committee on National Defense, consisting of the Chairman of the Special Committee, who shall also be Chairman of the Executive Committee, and four other members to be selected by him, be created, such Executive Committee to sit in Washington in frequent or if necessary continuous session.

4. That Mr. Willard, as Chairman of the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense, be ex officio a member of the Executive Committee.

"That the Interstate Commerce Commission be invited to designate one of its members to be ex officio a member of the Executive Committee.

5. That the railways agree to the direction of the Executive Committee of five in all matters to which its authority extends, as expressed in the resolution heretofore adopted, and to which we hereby subscribe; and that the General Secretary of the American Railway Association be instructed to secure the execution by signature of all American railways."


April 21—Council of National Defense. A statement, prepared under the direction of Mr. Gompers of the Committee on Labor of the Con-mission, was ordered to be given to the press. It set forth the attitude of organized labor in regard to labor and standards of living during the

( 148) present emergency of war. It stated "that neither employers nor employees shall endeavor to take advantage of the country's necessities to change existing standards.... There have been established by legislation, by mutual agreement between employers and employees, or by custom, certain standards constituting a day's work." These varied from seven hours in some kinds of work to twelve hours per day in continuous operation plants. It was felt that no changes should be urged at this time in hours of labor or standards of living that would embarrass the Government. If difficulties should arise, they should be adjusted by negotiations without stoppage of labor.

Mr. Frank A. Scott was authorized to form a committee, composed of himself as Chairman, representatives of the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Interior, the Federal Trade Commission, and others he might wish to select, to consult with Commissioner Baruch in the solution of the price problems.

Secretary Houston was troubled by the nature of the published announcement of the appointment of Mr. Hoover "as Chairman of a committee on food supply and prices," as he felt that the publicity "had created undesirable impressions in the public mind to the serious embarrassment of the Department of Agriculture." He proposed a resolution which had for its purpose defining the supposed duties of Mr. Hoover.

This resolution of Mr. Houston's, which was given to the press, was premature and misleading, as it conveyed the idea that Mr. Hoover would act only in an advisory capacity to the Council and to the Department of Agriculture. There were few appointments made during the war that met with such popular enthusiasm as did the appointment of Mr. Hoover to the control of the Food Administration.

On May 21, the President explained the powers asked of Congress regarding food supplies, as follows :[2]

"It is very desirable, in order to prevent misunderstandings or alarms and to assure co-operation in a vital matter, that the country should understand exactly the scope and purpose of the very great powers which I have thought i t necessary i n the circumstances to ask the Congress to put in my hands with regard to our food supplies... .

"Objects Sought to Be Served. The objects sought to be served by the legislation asked for are: Full inquiry into the existing available stocks of foodstuffs

( 149) and into the costs and practices of the various food producing and distributing trades; the prevention of all unwarranted hoarding of every kind and of the control of foodstuffs by persons who are not in any legitimate sense producers, dealers, or traders; the requisitioning when necessary for the public use of food supplies and of the equipment necessary for handling them properly; the licensing of wholesome and legitimate mixtures and milling percentages; and the prohibition of the unnecessary or wasteful use of foods. Authority is asked also to establish prices, but not in order to limit the profits of the farmers, but only to guarantee to them when necessary a minimum price which will insure them a profit where they are asked to attempt new crops and to secure the consumer against extortion by breaking up corners and attempts at speculation when they occur by fixing temporarily a reasonable price at which middlemen must sell.

"Mr. Hoover to Head Task. I have asked Mr. Herbert Hoover to undertake this all-important task of food administration. He has expressed his willingness to do so on condition that he is to receive no payment for his services and that the whole of the force under him, exclusive of clerical assistance, shall be employed so far as possible upon the same volunteer basis. He has expressed his confidence that this difficult matter of food administration can be successfully accomplished through the voluntary co-operation and direction of legitimate distributors of foodstuffs and with the help of the women of the country...."

It was voted that a Committee on Women's Defense Work be appointed, with Dr. Anna Howard Shaw as Chairman.

It was voted that a Committee on Shipping be appointed "to advise the Council of National Defense as to the best methods of increasing the tonnage available for shipment to the Allies."


April 23—Advisory Commission. Samuel Gompers had worked heroically from the beginning of our sittings as an Advisory Commission to maintain harmony between labor and industry. As an early step in his program he had succeeded in having a representative committee of prominent labor leaders of England sent over by the British Government. These men had arrived, and were to appear soon before the Council and Commission.

It was deemed necessary, in the interest of the work of the General Medical Board, that we be informed on matters of medical, surgical, and sanitary progress among the allied armies in Europe. Drs. J. M. T.

( 150) Finney of Baltimore, and George E. Brewer and Charles L. Gibson of New York (all officers in the U. S. Army Medical Reserve Corps) had volunteered to obtain such information at their own expense by personal visits abroad. A resolution, in which I asked for Council approval of such a commission, was approved, with the understanding that the commission contemplated therein be considered a part of the general scheme for the interchange of such commissions when developed. More comprehensive plans including other departments were being considered, as I learned in an interview with the President, which I was accorded on the following day.

Three days later I proposed a resolution which involved a study commission "with headquarters in Paris and in London, endowed with authority, funds, and technical assistants to study the operations and experience of the English and French sanitary services ..." the said study commissions to be comprised of civilian physicians and sanitarians with proper qualifications, and experience abroad during the present conflict, to be selected by the General Medical Board; and a central group of members of the U. S. Army Medical Corps, to be selected by the Surgeon General of the Army, empowered to organize plans for a foreign branch of the U. S. Sanitary Service to be in readiness in the event of arrival of United States troops in Europe; the study commission "to recommend to the American Government plans and orders for the equipment, personnel, and supplies for an adequate sanitary service in Europe, capable of co-operating with our Allies."

April 26—Advisory Commission. The Director read a resolution recommending "that the Council urge upon Congress the desirability of incorporating in all appropriations for the national defense a clause granting to the President, for the duration of war, power to transfer funds from the specific uses stated by Act to such other purposes within any department, as may, in his opinion, be more essential to the national security and welfare."

This resolution had been prepared by a committee of the General Munitions Board, comprising Howard Coffin, Major P. E. Pierce, Paymaster Hancock, and Dr. Martin, and adopted by that Board on the previous day. Now, on motion of Mr. Coffin, the Commission formally approved it, but it was tabled by the Council on April 28.

( 151)

April 27—Council of National Defense. Mr. Willard stated that the French Ambassador had communicated with him in reference to sending to France railroad supplies and a large force of American engineers and skilled laborers to aid in the reconstruction of their railway system, and Mr. Willard brought up the question of their status, compensation, etc. Secretary Baker moved, and i t was so voted, that the Council approve of sending such aid to France. It was suggested that the Commission should prepare and submit to the Council specific recommendations on this subject.

Mr. Charles M. Schwab appeared i n reference to constructing steel ships for the British. He was requested to confer with Chairman Denman of the Shipping Board, and to discuss the matter further at the Council's next meeting.

April 28—Council of National Defense. At a special meeting of the Council the resolution defining and enlarging the jurisdiction of the Munitions Board, as adopted by the Commission on April 26 for recommendation to the Council, was considered, and the first two sections—relating to materials in which difficulty of procurement seemed probable and establishment of delivery priorities seemed essential—were authorized. The third section, relating to terms of contracts and determination of fair prices, was referred to the Committee on Prices, F. A. Scott, Chairman, for recommendations as to policy.

These departmental and governmental authorizations of a definite nature that were so necessary if the Munitions Board was to function efficiently, were of the greatest importance.

As to the resolution adopted by the Commission on April 26, requesting determination of the relative urgency of demands made by the major groups

"It was the sense of the meeting that as between the Army and Navy, priority should be given to such needs of the Navy as are intended to be completed within a period of one year; that as to supplies for belligerents, the question of priority in each instance should be determined by the representative of the particular belligerent and the head of the department interested; and that the wooden ship program should be pressed forward to the exclusion of all else not immediately and vitally necessary."

( 152)

The committee's recommendation that a committee on international munition standards be created was ordered "referred to the War College as a committee to report to the Council."

Secretary Baker, in discussing the advisability of sending representatives to Paris and London for exchange of technical information, to facilitate co-operative action, as suggested by the recommendation of the Advisory Commission adopted April 26, stated that conferences with English and French representatives "had developed the belief that the wisest and most advantageous course would be to have the foreign expert advisers stationed here, in intimate touch with our operations, and relieved at frequent intervals by others arriving fresh from activities abroad."


  1. “Official Bulletin,” May 12 and 16, 1917.
  2. Ibid.

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