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article number 537
article date 03-15-2016
copyright 2016 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Perhaps the Most Drastic Change to American Life: The War, 1917-18
by Preston William Slosson

From the 1930 book, The Great Crusade and After, 1914-1928.

* * *

WAR was a simple matter in the days when good Sir Brian could unhook his armor from the wall, mount his charger and be off in fifty minutes to answer the summons of his liege lord.

Even in the eighteenth century, when war had already become a science for specialists, the army represented the nation only as a football team represents its college. The civilian could supply funds, pray for victory, cheer from the side lines, but did not take an active part in the game.

The coming of the “nation in arms” in the days of Carnot, Napoleon and Scharnhorst meant hardly more—merely that the civilian might be, as an individual, brought into the ranks in case of need.

Only with the twentieth century did mine and factory, farm and home, school and laboratory, become so many cogs in a single war machine. In the World War an army was not an army without transports, airplanes, motors, tanks, field telephones, intrenching tools, barbed-wire fencing, gas masks, field glasses and a thousand other accessories whose lack might give the enemy a slight but fatal margin of superiority.

To produce all that was necessary—from such major necessities as coal, oil, wheat, beef, rubber and steel down to such small details as cherry pits for gas masks and paint for camouflaged merchant ships—thousands of workingmen had to be taken from their usual peace-time tasks to the munition plants; hundreds of thousands of farmers had to alter their crop routine; and millions of men, women and children in every walk of life had to modify their habits of purchase and consumption.

Even the rarest, most unmilitary talents might find use in modern war:
- Many expert dentists were called into service to perform operations on jawbones broken by shrapnel.
- Several artists devoted themselves to designing Liberty-Loan posters.
- The linguist could work for the censor and examine letters from Persia or Finland.
- Some college professors developed a latent talent for deciphering the codes of enemy agents.
- Literary folk who sympathized in any degree with the national effort could find endless opportunities for propaganda, one of the major weapons of modern warfare.
- Actresses and other entertainers were in demand to keep up the morale of soldiers in cantonments or at the front.

Americans will go to war. The draft begins, July 20, 1917.

Perhaps one reason why the World War brought a relapse toward barbarism in the treatment of noncombatants was that, under the conditions of the time, very few residents in a belligerent country were really noncombatant.

To mobilize a nation instead of merely an army was a gigantic task in any case, and in the United States one that presented some special difficulties. Two objects had to be kept in view, not wholly consistent with each other: the establishment of a separate American army and full support to the Entente Allies while it was being organized.

If France, Britain and Italy had not been largely dependent on the continuance and increase of American commercial and financial aid, the task of 1917 would have been much simpler, the exportation of munitions could have been discontinued until the American expeditionary force was equipped, all war loans spent on this equipment, all American shipping reserved for troop transportation.

But to have followed this policy, and thus have isolated western Europe from its main external base of supplies, would have presented a victory to Germany.

On the other hand, the United States did not consider it sufficient to float loans, build ships, raise crops, make munitions, and then hand them all over to the Entente Allies. The military collapse of Russia enabled Germany to regain a slight superiority in man power on the Western front, and special French and British military missions urged that men were as necessary as munitions.

It is doubtful if in any case, public opinion would have sanctioned a mere war by proxy as month after month passed with no sign of collapse from Germany.

Another difficulty peculiar to the United States was the immense distance of the war zone from the base. It was thought a signal feat for Great Britain to have kept in being an army across the narrow English Channel; the United States had to send one across the Atlantic.

For each soldier landed in France some fifty pounds of supplies and equipment must be landed also each day. The food supply alone rose to nine million pounds a day at the end of the war. The French ports had to be enlarged and improved to make possible the accommodation of a new army.

Transportation on both sides of the ocean was a problem second in magnitude only to the long sea trip. The entire railway system of the United States had to be reorganized under national control to collect at the Atlantic ports, millions of tons of essential supplies.

In France the sector of the front held by the Americans had to be kept in touch with the ports by American equipment on French roads and railroads.

Nor was France the most distant theater of American action, though certainly the largest. At one time an American force had to guard tracks in Siberia from hostile Russian bands.

A third difficulty lay in the national tradition of the American people. They were, for the most part, the descendants of Europeans who in one way or another did not fit into the ordered social life of the old continent—pioneers, adventurers, rebels, refugees, “come-outers” of all sorts. Like all sons of frontiersmen they hated discipline and had little of the Teutonic willingness to obey an order simply because it was an order. War was as hateful to them because it meant loss of liberty as because it meant loss of life.

Champ Clark, speaker of the House of Representatives, voiced an inveterate prejudice when he opposed compulsory military service on the ground that his mind had always classed together the conscript and the convict.

Still more hateful were the inevitable interferences with civilian life in war time: food control, fuel control, regulation of private business, censorship of the news. An English officer once asserted the paradox that his people were “warlike but not military”; that is to say, they took more kindly to fighting than to drill. The same remark might have been made of the American “doughboy.”

We have the best of testimony, enemy testimony, that he fought as well as any European soldier; but we have also his own testimony as to how he hated his domineering sergeant, how he felt humiliated at having to salute any strange officer he might encounter in the street, how he longed to break the regulations and red tape, and how glad he was to doff the uniform and get back into civilian clothes, a symbol of his reconquered right to “do as he darned pleased.”

The task of turning an industrial system organized for peace into a nation-wide munition plant was no greater than that of turning a nation of individualists into a drilled and disciplined war machine.

Besides the normal Army, Navy and Marine recruits, the new war introduced aviation into the mix. Inscription reads Squadron B2, January 30, 1918. U.S. School of Military Aeronautics, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Yet the United States decided for compulsory service almost as quickly as for war, in marked contrast to England’s reliance on volunteering until half her war had been fought. The probable reason for this difference, since prejudice against conscription was much the same in both countries, was that at the time when the United States entered the struggle it was possible to observe and benefit by the English experience with the voluntary system.

The English voluntary system did not fail to enlist recruits in adequate numbers, but it took the wrong men—those who perhaps were more needed as expert mechanicians in the munition factories—or it took the right men at the wrong time.

The real advantage of compulsory service was orderliness, the possibility of raising just the numbers who could be trained and equipped at the time and with the least disturbance to the production of war necessities.

On June 5, 1917, 9 1/2 million young men between twenty-one and thirty-one registered, thus placing themselves at the disposal of the army. Many were granted complete or partial exemption on the ground of physical unfitness, the support of dependent families, or their special qualifications for necessary industries. The rest were placed in a first class of enrolled men and the order of their muster into service determined by lot.

No one was permitted to purchase exemption or hire a substitute; in that respect, at least, democracy had made a great advance since the Civil War. The banker’s son and the laborer’s son stood an equal chance of being drafted into the service; indeed, if the laborer’s son were needed in the shipyards and the banker’s son had spent his time in play, it was the latter who went to the trenches.

Each district had its quota to fill, and a single drawing of lots in Washington determined the order in which men would be summoned to the colors in each case. Regular army, national guard and the new army of drafted men were placed under uniform discipline as a consolidated national force.

The offer of ex-President Roosevelt to lead a special expeditionary force of volunteers was rejected by the president, on advice from military experts, because it was feared that such an expedition would withdraw thousands of men of exceptional ability, zeal and experience from the training camps where they were needed to officer the inexperienced civilians “blown in by the draft.”

Life in the training camps came as a revolutionary experience to many. Sons of aliens in the big cities who had barely learned the English language, “poor whites” from isolated mountain hamlets in the South, Negro laborers from Louisiana swamp lands, boys from lonely Dakota wheat farms, all the untraveled classes of the country, were uprooted from their homes.

To go to war was an adventure for everyone, but even to go to the nearest training camp was an adventure for these. Their trip to camp was often their first railroad journey, their port of embarkation their first experience in a strange city, their voyage to France their first sight of salt water.

Drill and discipline seemed harshly restrictive to young Americans accustomed to be their own masters and homesickness was prevalent. But the brief hours of freedom granted to those who obtained leave to visit the neighboring towns were much enjoyed, in spite of watchful military police and officers who exacted salutes at every encounter.

Hospitable civilians who did not know how else to show their interest in the tenderfoot soldiery lavishly entertained them in churches, clubs and private homes. In the camp itself opportunities for social recreation were provided by civilian welfare agencies, and every cantonment had one or more newspapers of its own.

Very soon the recruits adapted themselves to their new social environment. Military discipline and cantonment life, working in cooperation, tended to standardize the raw material even more effectively than a boarding school. Myriad types of drafted men tended to merge, as in a composite photograph, into a single generalized type of soldier. “You’re in the army now,” the older recruits told the younger at every opportunity.

A certain "esprit de corps" grew up among the drafted men almost as soon as among the volunteers. At first the latter tended to look down on the former with a certain condescension as near-slackers who had to be dragged into the great game; but before long the drafted men were answering the taunt of “slacker” by the counter-stroke of “draft dodger.”

New recruits in training.

The same soldier slang was repeated in the accent of forty-eight states. They all ate the same “goldfish” (tinned salmon) , wore the same “tin helmets,” and perhaps wagered their pay on crap games, more picturesquely styled “African golf” or “the galloping dominoes.”

Whether we approve and call it socialization, or disapprove and term it standardization, unquestionably this dip into cantonment life did much to make the oncoming generation more like-minded. Back in civil life once more, no longer the American Expeditionary Force, but the American Legion, they had a common background of experience that tended to modify sectional or provincial differences.

The training camps were mushroom cities. Instead of merely erecting tent colonies it was decided to build large, well-ventilated wooden barracks equipped so far as possible with water supply, electric light, sewerage systems and other “public utilities.”

Sixteen soldier-cities were built for the national army (the drafted men), and sixteen others for the national guard (volunteer militia). The national-guard encampments were all in the South and relied more largely on the use of tents.

The cost of the cantonment cities averaged eight million dollars each for the national army, and almost a fourth as much for the national guard. Construction was rushed forward with remarkable speed, for until adequate quarters were ready training could not begin. Even as things were, soldiers sometimes came to camp while their quarters were still unfinished and had themselves to take a share in the task of making them habitable.

Many criticized the new barracks as needlessly elaborate and presenting too great a contrast to the hardships of the trenches, but housing experts answered that the government was well advised in sparing no pains to keep the camps clean, dry and sanitary because they were made to house civilians from superheated city flats, untempered to campaigning in wintry weather.

Within a few months cantonments had been built to house one million eight hundred thousand men, equivalent to the population of Philadelphia.

Physical and mental tests of the soldiers told much of the national standards in time of peace, for the drafted men represented a very fair cross section of the whole population.

A new registration in the fall of 1918 comprised the age limits from eighteen to forty-five; all together about twenty-six million men were registered or entered the service before registration. In all, about three million five hundred thousand men were brought into the army, two million crossed the Atlantic, and over one and a third million took part in battle.

It was disconcerting to learn that about one young American in every four was practically illiterate, and about one in three physically unfit. The proportion of unfitness was still higher for the manufacturing districts and for the middle years of life.*

* ’Scientific Monthly’ magazine noted, "The evidence available indicates fifty to sixty per cent of the men between 31 and 46 years of age could not have passed for general military service if the physical requirements had remained unchanged.”

New England, New York and the industrial Northeast generally had many of the unfit, and the Far West also made a poor record, presumably because the health resorts of the Rockies had attracted many men threatened with tuberculosis.

But in a belt of prairies and great plains, extending continuously from North Dakota to Texas, over seventy per cent of those examined were found fit, and the South and agricultural Middle West generally made a good showing.

Once more it had been demonstrated, as among British volunteers in the Boer War, that urban conditions unfit many for a soldier’s life.

It should be remembered, however, that a man may enjoy excellent health and be capable of steady hard work for ten hours a day in factory or office and, yet not pass an army test because of some minor defect such as fallen arches, bad teeth or short sight.

European trench warfare required physical stamina.

Mental inspection was more of a novelty in army routine than physical inspection. For several years careful experimentation had been carried on by psychologists to devise tests of alertness, memory, logical decision, and other measurable mental traits, and to some extent these methods had found application in the personnel work of large factories. But never before had they been employed to sift the wheat from the chaff in a great army.

The first use of mental testing was to make a rough division between those fit for soldiers’ work and the minority too dull to be of use in modern war, even in the ranks. But it was equally important to sort out superior degrees of ability among the drafted men so that they might be tried out for special service or fill vacancies among the noncommissioned officers.

An “alpha” test was devised for those who could easily read and were accustomed to verbal symbols; a “beta” test for those with little education. Of course, a recruit sometimes had high intelligence and yet was ill adapted to responsible work in the army because he lacked authority, decisiveness or tact in handling other men. But this happened far less frequently than one might suppose.

At Camp Meade a group of soldiers were graded into five classes according to the intelligence tests, and then separately graded by their officers on grounds of soldierly qualities such as reliability, discipline and initiative. In nearly half the cases (49.5 per cent), the men examined fell into the same class on both tests and in most of the other cases the difference was of only one grade.

The practical success of the army tests advertised them widely and led to the increased use of such psychological siftings in both academic and commercial life.

The training of the men was as carefully divided into stages as in any school or college.

On the average, the soldier had six months of drill in the fundamentals of military life while in cantonments. Here he learned obedience—the first and hardest lesson—drill and care of equipment, and received the physical training necessary to fit him for active campaigning. He was also given special instruction in the peculiarities of trench warfare, often under the direction of experienced French or British officers who could speak directly from experience.

Then he went overseas for two months more of intensive specialized instruction; then for a month into a “quiet” section of the battle front, which meant merely that he would probably not take part in a general offensive; after that, into an “active” sector and continuous battle.

Though this program could not always be followed, every possible effort was made to preserve the degrees of experience, for at best eight or nine months were a short time to transform a civilian recruit into a veteran warrior.

The training of officers presented a still more difficult problem. The regular army and the national guard together had about nine thousand at the opening of the war.

Capable noncommissioned officers could, of course, be raised to higher rank; and civilians who had taken military drill in school or college, or who were wanted merely as medical or administrative officials, could quickly be made useful. But the greater number, some two thirds of the two hundred thousand commissioned officers, were graduates of the training camps.

The Plattsburg idea, evolved during the years of anxious neutrality, solved the most difficult personnel problem of the army. No doubt the average training-camp graduate, usually a business or professional man in civil life, had a very superficial grounding in military science as compared with the West Pointer.

But as a rule he proved to be an apt pupil, adaptable, energetic, and capable as an executive. When he failed, it was less commonly from lack of skill in his unfamiliar trade than from lack of tact in dealing with the men whom he commanded.

Officers in training at Plattsburg New York.

The story of the campaigns of 1917 and 1918 does not belong to this book, which is concerned with the effect of the war on America rather than with the effect of America on the war. But before returning to the civilian organization behind the lines it would be appropriate to speak briefly of the experience which two million men took back with them from Europe.

The soldier of the American Expeditionary Force faced perils much greater than fall to the lot of the civilian, and yet, just because of the inevitable hardships and dangers of his task, he had to be cared for in a most paternal fashion.

Early hours are recommended to the civilian by his doctor; the soldier was summoned to rise by bugle. He shaved, cleaned his teeth, brushed his uniform under inspection, and if his clothes became filthy in the trenches he must at his first opportunity visit a “delousing” station to kill the “cooties” with live steam.

If he wore out one suit of clothes he must requisition another. He had no choice as to his diet, though until supplies ran low he had the privilege of deciding how many times he would fill his plate. When travel was necessary he went in a freight car guaranteed to hold “forty men or eight horses” and paid no fare.

If he had dependents, the government provided him with insurance. If he wanted to spend his leisure time in study, books and classes were provided.

His correspondence was carefully censored to prevent any leakage of military information. He carried an identification disk at all times so that he might not be buried as an unknown soldier.

The army provided his quarters, his food, his tools, his clothes, his hair cuts, his dental and medical work, his burial costs and practically all other necessary expenses. This was less true of the officers, whose expensive outfits often outran the funds provided to buy them.

This care of the soldier appeared at its best in the work of the Red Cross and the medical officers of the army. In some respects, such as the treatment of burns and the reconstruction of broken jawbones, American physicians and surgeons achieved triumphs which before the war would have been considered impossible.

But in all the belligerent countries, the care of the sick and wounded showed high efficiency as compared with any previous war. If soldiers wounded in battle lived to reach the base hospitals they generally recovered, and five times out of six could again enter active service.

Soldiers were usually inoculated against typhoid and further guarded by rigorous sanitary regulations. During the War with Mexico, in the medical dark ages of 1846-1848, disease killed off in one year more than a tenth of the whole American army and as recently as the Spanish-American War, took five lives for each one lost on the battlefield.

In France, in 1917 and 1918, less than half as many Americans died from disease as died in battle.

Typhoid, dysentery, bubonic plague, typhus, cholera and other familiar war-time scourges were almost unknown in the American army.

Romance has always pictured the soldier as shot through the heart or bleeding from a sword cut; the World War was the first great conflict in which the conventional picture of a soldier’s deathbed approximated the truth, For previous wars a far more accurate type of the average soldier’s lot would be a sick man stretched on a tumbled hospital cot from the effects of bad diet, foul water or an infected insect bite.

Yet one terrible plague broke through all the barriers which science could erect. The influenza, inducing the even more fatal pneumonia, appeared in a particularly active and malignant phase in the autumn of 1918. World-wide in range, it took its victims indifferently from the army at the front, the recruits in barracks and the civilians at home.

Our troops in France with influenza.

In mid-September, 1918, all diseases combined were taking soldier lives in the American cantonments at an average rate of five out of a thousand per year, a ratio not high even for healthy young men outside the army. One month later the death rate had risen from five a year to four a week.

Fortunately, the epidemic was as brief as it had been severe. With the frosts of late autumn it diminished and with the winter almost disappeared.

Schools and churches were closed for several weeks in many cities. Men and women walking abroad covered their faces with masks to prevent infection; a stranger visiting an American city during that fatal October might have imagined that the Germans had attacked with poison gas which compelled the wearing of gas masks.

The disease had an ugly habit of selecting strong young men and women in their twenties and thirties in preference to the infants or elderly folk who are the first victims of most epidemics. The result was that the influenza inflicted just the same sort of injury on the nation as the war itself, killing off many of those most fit to do the work of the world.

The ’Survey’ editorially estimated the economic loss to the nation from sickness and death during the epidemic at “not less than three billion dollars.”

Next to the Red Cross, the Young Men’s Christian Association was the most important welfare agency with the army. Unfortunately circumstances made its task a rather thankless one.

The government had assigned to it the duty of running the official “canteens,” but its resources were not equal to supplying freely the chocolate, cigarettes and other little luxuries which it handled. Many soldiers unfavorably contrasted its policy of selling these extras with the policy of the Knights of Columbus and the Salvation Army in giving them without charge, forgetting how much vaster a task had been assigned the Y. M. C. A.

Moreover, the government found it impossible for military reasons to allot to the canteens all the cargo space that had been promised, so that many Y. M. C. A. huts ran short of supplies altogether. A certain defensive note has therefore crept into even the eulogies of the Y. M. C. A., though in the main its work was well performed.

The most characteristically American of all the activities of the A. E. F. was the army newspaper, the ’Stars and Stripes.’ It was no stiff, official journal for the purpose of conveying orders from headquarters and carefully censored information. The staff of editors and reporters was mainly made up of professional journalists enlisted in the army, with a total confusion of ranks.

When official orders were to be promulgated they were headlined in the undignified manner traditional in American journalism. Thus the formal announcement that soldiers absent without leave would be placed in a punishment division and detained in France after other divisions had sailed for home was placed on the front page as “SKIDS GREASED FOR A. W. O. L.s” to the confusion of an English captain who asked in despair, “What are ‘Skids’? And what are ‘aywulls’?”

But four truant soldiers out of every five reported back to their outfit within five days of the article in the ’Stars and Stripes.’

The paper had its own way of keeping up soldier morale, one that would have filled a European high command with horror. In its cartoons and comic strips, drawn by professional caricaturists, it gently satirized all the aspects of army life which the soldiers found distasteful—the stiff uniforms, the endless saluting, the starchy officers, and even the editors of the paper itself.

The soldier thus found expressed for him the irritations which military discipline did not permit him to voice himself, and many a grouch harmlessly exploded in hearty laughter.

One of the main difficulties of the American soldier was that of adjusting himself to the life and traditions of the French. The difference of language was no slight barrier.

American soldiers with French elders.

The ordinary private or, for the matter of that, the ordinary officer hardly did more than pick up a dozen phrases in half a year abroad, and, for the rest, conversed in that strange mixture of French, English and explanatory gesture which the English had already nicknamed “entente-cordiale language.”

Army balladry was often written in that strange tongue, such as the endless English verses, interlarded with French phrases, about the “Mademoiselle from Armentières,” most famous of them all.

But a greater barrier than language was that of custom. Most American soldiers had never visited Europe before and subconsciously expected all the mechanical aids and conveniences so abundant in the United States. Few of them were capable of appreciating French art and science, and few of them were imaginative enough to make allowances for the waste and strain of four years’ warfare in making a country look slovenly and unkempt.

What they noticed was that bathtubs were rare, the small villages dirty, the petty shopkeepers avaricious, and French methods of doing business slow and custom-ridden. Anything of French origin or manufacture took the adjective “frog,” such as “frog automobile” or “frog elevator,” and usually there was a flavor of mild contempt in the phrase, an intimation that while the French might be good fighters they could not be expected to handle business affairs with Anglo-Saxon efficiency.

There was, of course, a friendlier side to American-French relations. The little children easily fraternized with the soldiers and begged from them gifts of chocolates and souvenir buttons. The better educated officers and soldiers, especially after the armistice, made some acquaintance with the real French civilization.

But on the whole the army was homesick, devoutly anxious to leave a strange country and make the alliterative schedule of “Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken by Christmas!” This impatience was much increased after the fighting was over and some divisions were kept at dull routine army chores in France while their more fortunate comrades were already back at their old jobs in the United States.

General Pershing was journalistically reported to have said on his arrival, “La Fayette, we are here!” One weary soldier in the spring of 1919 parodied it, “La Fayette, we are still here!”

The active and determining share of the American army as an independent unit in the World War was confined to the brief period from July to November, inclusive, 1918. Many Americans had already seen action, but in small units brigaded with the more experienced French and British troops, or in relatively quiet sections of the front.

The prolonged deadlock of trench warfare was, however, almost ended, and instructions to the American army, dated as early as October, 1917, had proclaimed the principle that “All instruction must contemplate the assumption of a vigorous offensive. This purpose will be emphasized in every phase of training until it becomes a settled habit of thought.”

The Americans began their share in the counterattack at Belleau Wood (thenceforward “the Wood of the Marines”) near Château-Thierry in the Marne Valley. We have a German army report which best sums up the impression which the personal qualities of the American troops made at this time on their foe:

"The Second American Division must be reckoned a good one and may even perhaps be reckoned as a storm troop. The different attacks on Belleau Wood were carried out with bravery and dash. The moral effect of our gunfire can not seriously impede the advance of the American infantry.

"The Americans’ nerves are not yet worn out. The qualities of the men individually may be described as remarkable. They are physically well set up, their attitude is good, and they range in age from eighteen to twenty-eight years.

"They lack at present only training and experience to make formidable adversaries. The men are in fine spirits and are filled with naïve assurance; the words of a prisoner are characteristic—’We kill or get killed.’"

In September, operating independently, the Americans smashed in the salient of St. Mihiel and, in October and November, took part in a continuous battle of forty-seven days in the Meuse Valley and the wooded hills of the Argonne.

American’s operate artillery in the Battle of the Argonne.

The latter campaign, or “Battle of the Argonne,” cost more American lives than all the rest of the war. Colonel Leonard P. Ayres has compared it with the somewhat similar Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War:

“Twelve times as many American troops were engaged as were on the Union side. They used in the action ten times as many guns and fired about one hundred times as many rounds of ammunition. The actual weight of the ammunition fired was greater than that used by the Union forces during the entire Civil War. Casualties were perhaps four times as heavy as among the Northern troops in the Battle of the Wilderness.”

The proportion of the western front held by the Americans had increased from one per cent in January, 1918, to twenty-one per cent in November. When the armistice was signed on November eleventh, the Americans were masters of the territory from Verdun to Sedan.

The whole German war plan from February, 1917, onward was a huge gamble that the war could be won before American troops arrived in sufficient numbers to give the Entente Allies a distinct advantage in man power. Germany had at least five chances in her favor in this hazard, for her object would have been equally obtained:
- if the submarine campaign had starved out England;
- if it had halted the movement of men or goods from the United States;
- if the transportation of the American army should interfere with the export of war material to France or Britain;
- if the United States failed to organize an adequate force; or
- if the American soldiers, nearly all of them wholly inexperienced in modern warfare, proved incompetent at the front.

These questions were answered, but not in a day or a year. Nineteen hundred and seventeen was a year of preparation rather than of achievement, and the preparation was not too complete.

At the opening of 1918 the United States had taken over only about six miles of intrenchment, and “quiet” sectors at that. Even a friendly French critic has pointed out that “America if left to herself, without British tonnage, without practical training by the Allied armies, would have arrived too late to play her part in the final act.”

Almost all artillery material and ammunition used by the A. E. F. was procured in France or Britain, mainly the former. The British furnished about half of the transport tonnage used in taking American soldiers to France; the Americans about forty-five per cent, including confiscated German merchant shipping, the remainder being loaned by France, Italy and other maritime states.

The American aircraft program was barely under way after a year of war effort and American aviators in France had to depend on European combat planes.

The submarine, which had brought the United States into the war, was also the greatest obstacle which the nation had to surmount. Its destructiveness could be met by:
- building new ships faster than the old ones were sunk,
- by evading the submarine attacks,
- by protecting merchantmen and transports with armed convoy, and
- by actual destruction of the submarine.

At first it seemed as though all these methods together might prove inadequate. In April, 1917, Germany sank 875,000 tons of shipping. Ships were being destroyed several times as fast as they were being built, and submarines built several times as fast as they were being sunk.

The total tonnage of the world before the war was about 32,000,000; the Germans and their allies had sent to the bottom over 7,500,000 tons. The days were growing longer, and in the high latitudes of British waters the Germans hoped to be able to locate and strike at ships for fifteen or sixteen sunlit or twilight hours in the midsummer season.

Village inventors, confident that American ingenuity could solve any problem, badgered the navy with such proposals as walling in the whole North Sea, equipping all ships with buffers or double hulls, and deflecting the course of torpedoes by huge magnets.

One device, seemingly quite as fantastic and yet proving practically useful, was the dazzle camouflage. Ordinary camouflage, such as the steel grey of a battleship, the mud-colored khaki of the infantryman and the white fur coat of the polar bear, seeks to make the object melt into the horizon.

British gunboat with camouflage.

The dazzle camouflage aimed at deception rather than obscurity. Transports and cargo ships were decorated in huge zigzag designs, like so many floating cubist paintings, until American ports resembled nightmare harbors beyond the gates of ivory and horn.

But the purpose was practical enough: to deceive the watching submarine commander as to the exact size, speed and direction of his target.

The arming of merchant ships proved ineffective, and a convoy system was adopted instead whereby merchant ships went out in huge fleets under the protection of cruisers and destroyers. The course followed was irregular, the time of sailing rigidly concealed and all lights darkened.

By autumn the monthly tonnage losses had been cut to half the April figure. Transports did not always travel with convoy. They sailed from “an Atlantic port,”* usually New York or Norfolk, for Brest, St. Nazaire, Liverpool or Bordeaux.

* Censorship had its humors. Though it compelled the newspapers to refer to New York merely as "an Atlantic port,” it did not prevent them in some cases from telling how the “vessels steamed out from an Atlantic port past the Statue of Liberty.”

They relied more on speed than on protection to take them through the danger zone and, as a rule, passed in complete safety though much discomfort, for, to economize space, the men were packed in like sardines and had to take turn and turn about in the bunks.

The hunting of the submarines was carried out in various ways, in cooperation with the Allied fleets, chiefly by depth charges from destroyers or patrol boats or the use of contact mines. Some were also destroyed by machine gun fire, caught in mine nets, bombed by airplanes, rammed by warships, or lured to doom by “mystery” decoy ships, destroyers camouflaged to resemble merchant vessels.

The constructive side of the war against the submarine was to build new ships. Until 1917 most commerce and passenger traffic across the Atlantic was carried in European vessels. Of these the British had the lion’s share, but France, Norway, the Netherlands and, until 1914, Germany played also important parts.

Most shipping of United States registry was engaged in coast-wise or Great Lakes traffic. The shipbuilding program was for a time delayed by a controversy between the shipping board and the emergency fleet corporation. At first Major General George Goethals, the chief builder of the Panama Canal, directed construction, but he resigned on an important technical issue—should the new ships be steel or wooden?

Looking to the future, steel ships might have been the better investment, but the urgent need for immediate construction made it necessary to disregard the commercial viewpoint entirely and consider only the military emergency.

The new wooden ships were supplemented by the conversion into troop transports of confiscated German liners, the deflection of shipping from Oriental and Latin-American trade, the leasing of Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian steamers, and even the arbitrary commandeering of some Dutch vessels.

Shipbuilding and other war-time industries made it as necessary for the government to house its workmen as to build barracks for the soldiers.

“The main problem giving the country concern is no longer the housing of its soldiers but the housing of the industrial army,” wrote a housing expert in the summer of 1918. “We have taken some small city of 30,000 or 40,000 population and have almost overnight doubled its population by placing contracts in the factories.”

In many cases the government found it necessary to erect not only houses but “to build streets and sewers, water and lighting systems, moving picture shows, and schools and places of amusement.” Hamilton Holt’s description of Hog Island (near Philadelphia) is a good picture of these mushroom shipbuilding towns.

The war created a new shipbuilding industry at Hog Island.

"Here was an absolutely flat stretch of land circling back from a straight mile and a half of water front that last summer was nothing but a dismal, soggy, salt swamp inhabited only by muskrats and mosquitoes, now a beehive of industry, and one of the great manufacturing cities of the world. . . .

"Giant cranes were unloading huge pieces of steel and logs from the freight cars. Donkey engines were puffing. Sirens were blowing. Those titanic human woodpeckers, the compressed air riveters, were splitting the ears with their welding. A half dozen scows were dredging the river and a dozen pile drivers were descending with giant whacks upon the logs at the water’s edge. . .

"With begrimed faces and mud-encrusted shoes the men worked and walked along, laughing and shouting, singing, and swearing. Hog Island was alive."

For the control of American industry and its direction towards military purposes in case of war the army appropriation act of August 29, 1916, provided for the creation of a council of national defense, consisting of the secretaries of war, the navy, the interior, agriculture, commerce and labor.

An advisory commission was established to cooperate with this body on technical matters:
- Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, on transportation;
- Howard E. Coffin, on munitions manufacture;
- Bernard M. Baruch, on metals and minerals;
- Julius Rosenwald, on clothing and supplies;
- Dr. Hollis Godfrey, on engineering and education;
- Dr. Franklin H. Martin, on medicine and surgery; and
- Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, on labor affairs.

One of the most important subordinate agencies of the council was the war industries board, established in July, 19 17, and given executive power in March, 1918. “The Board set out to prevent competition among those buying for the war, and to regulate the use by the civil population of men, money, and materials in such a way that civilian needs, not merely civilian wants, should be satisfied.”

At the end of the war the board and its subordinate agencies amounted almost to an economic dictatorship, for it could penalize producers, who would not cooperate, by giving priority in the supply of raw materials to rival manufacturers whose work better fitted the military need.

Unnecessary building was discouraged. When a strongly supported movement in Chicago sought the construction of a large temporary memorial to the soldiers, a permit was refused and the application subsequently withdrawn.

Permits were similarly refused for the building of frame tabernacles for the use of the popular evangelist, Billy Sunday. Even a large public-school building project, involving eight million dollars, was suspended in New York City.

Price-fixing, stimulus to production, economy and standardization, as well as the determination of priorities, became concerns of the board:
- Shoe manufacturers were restricted to three colors in leather;
- new lasts and heights were forbidden.
- Bathing caps were limited to one style for each manufacturer.
- Automobile tires were reduced from 287 types to 9;
- steel plows from 312 to 76;
- buggy wheels from 232 to 4.

The advantages of standardization thus learned during the stress of war were remembered after the peace and, as we shall see, the simplification of styles of manufacture was greatly extended under the auspices of the department of commerce during the secretaryship of Herbert Hoover.

Women at work. Wing section for Curtis flying boat under construction at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia.

In the main, the business men of the nation needed no coercion to direct their efforts toward stimulating the production of war commodities, and many of them gave up a unique chance of private profit to serve in some administrative office for a nominal salary, usually a “dollar a year.”

On the other hand, the government’s price-regulating policy of allowing a fixed percentage of profit above the gross costs of production placed a direct, though possibly an inevitable, premium on reckless expenditure.

Priority for the needs of war over those of peace had to be obtained in transportation as well as in production. Terminal points became congested with cars as the bulk of east-bound traffic mounted, and routing them back to where they were needed was a problem requiring central control.

William G. McAdoo, secretary of the treasury, became director general of the railroad administration, a dictator of traffic. With complete disregard of competing private companies the railways were organized into regional units, passenger trains were cut to a minimum, and pleasure travel discouraged. Schedules and rates were made uniform, and the use of freight for nonessential goods subordinated to the carrying of munitions.

The railroad tangle interlocked with the fuel shortage in the cold winter of 1917-1918 to provoke one of the most serious crises of the war. Thirty-seven ships laden with munitions were held up in New York Harbor for lack of fuel and the coal barges were held in the grip of heavy ice in several of the most important Northeastern ports.

In January, 1918, Fuel Administrator Harry A. Garfield, in order to get the coal moved to the Eastern cities and the waiting ships, took the drastic and unpopular step of closing down all manufacturing plants, not needed for the making of munitions or other essential purposes for five days and for a series of Mondays thereafter.

These “heatless Mondays” were bitterly resented but loyally obeyed; “this invasion of the rights of business which were supposed to be sacred to us, was received with the practical thought: ‘Garfield did not do this to be mean; he had reasons.’"

The householder had to suffer, too, unless he had a cellar well stocked with coal before the shortage began. In order to conserve gasoline for motor trucks citizens were requested to keep their automobiles in the garage, especially on Sundays and holidays, unless necessity brought them out.

The civilian war agencies—the shipping board, the war industries board, the war trade board which established priorities in foreign commerce, the railroad administration, the fuel administration and the food Administration constituted in fact new branches of the federal executive, as powerful and independent as any department of the government. Yet they were not made formal cabinet offices and the old political cabinet was not changed in structure, and but little in personnel, during the war.

Of all the branches of the new, unpolitical war administration which had grown up side by side with the cabinet, that which reached the greatest number of individuals was the food administration, which required the cooperation of every farmer, every housewife and, to some extent, every consumer as well.

Herbert Hoover, the food administrator, found his task almost the opposite of that which had faced him in Belgium. The United States was threatened with no famine and did not require to be provisioned, The problem was rather to create a food surplus in America to relieve a food shortage in Europe.

No food cards or rationing were introduced and the main reliance was on persuasion rather than compulsion. A special commission, entirely independent of the food administration’s grain corporation, established a fixed price of $2.20 per bushel for spring wheat, twenty cents above the minimum guaranteed by congressional act. Millers were not permitted to sell flour for more than a stipulated margin above their costs, and hoarding and profiteering were severely treated.

The high and stable price offered for wheat encouraged so much planting that the 1918 crop of nine hundred and twenty-one million bushels was adequate for the needs of the war.

This rapid expansion of the planted area of staple grains had, as we shall see, an unfortunate recoil after the war, when the curtailment of European demand brought prices down to half the war-time figure.

Poster appealing to families to save food.

The domestic aspect of the food situation was almost as important as the agricultural. Women and boys on vacation formed a “land army” to help in farm work, and the Boy Scouts planted home vegetable gardens in accordance with the slogan, “Every Scout to feed a soldier.

Just the foods in which the average American’s diet was richest he was now called on to deny himself—the meats, fine flour, fats and sweets.

He was willing, but needed much instruction as to how to set about it. Millers, bakers and housewives joined forces to devise more or less tempting substitutes for fine wheat bread from coarse-milled “whole wheat,” corn, rye and other grains.

In addition, wheatless days were advertised when patriotic Americans forewent altogether the usual slice or two of bread at dinner. Cheaper cuts of meat supplemented the traditional expensive steaks, and some restaurants catered to the national love of novelty by adding horse, rabbit and even whale meat to the menu.

Meatless days were observed as rigorously as Catholic Fridays. Housewives were urged not to purchase more food than they were certain to use so that there might be the less danger of its spoiling, and the garbage cans which before the war were full of discarded fragments of food now went to the dump half empty.*

* For example, the tons of raw garbage collected in Chicago declined from 12,862 during the month of June, 1916, to 8,386 for the same month a year later. In some cities persons who had contracted to collect garbage for feeding purposes were forced to go out of business.

To prevent the more conscientious from overdoing things and trying to live on nothing but hardtack and spinach, the food administration advised all to “eat plenty, wisely, without waste.”

But women helped the war effort in many other places besides the kitchen; indeed one of the main effects of the war on American life was to bring them out of the kitchen. They were particularly in demand for the types of factory work which required delicate discrimination of touch.

“I know a woman who has for years been the Northern agent for the woven rugs and homespun made in a certain mountain community in the South,” wrote one observer. . . .

"Now she has closed up her business and is going to one of the base hospitals to do work in occupational therapy. . . . The government gas mask factory has proved a most interesting field for many artists, musicians, and stage women. One well-known portrait painter is now spending her days in turning over little brass disks and carefully inspecting both sides.

"The aircraft factories, too, seem to have an especial appeal to women. It may be because the sewing on the delicate wings of the aircraft is something that is distinctly women’s work. . . . Wireless telegraphy is attracting many women who have the necessary background of physics and mathematics.

This movement of women into “men’s jobs” at something like men’s wages revolutionized the economics of many a household.

Jane Fuller was a widow who worked as a housemaid at thirty dollars a month, and her sixteen-year-old son did odd jobs for the butcher. As the draft took more and more men away from industry, the boy became a machine operator at $3.50 a day and the widow earned as much in a munition factory.

“Today this mother and son—and the case is both actual and typical—average forty dollars a week where a year ago their total income was thirty dollars a month.”

To carry the cost of war the burden was divided between taxes and loans. Both withdrew capital from expenditure on the comforts and luxuries of peace and were thus really paid in present costs, but because a loan promises a “reward of abstinence” by repaying the bondholder at the expense of the taxpayers, it will call out money that would hide from the tax-gatherer.

Five great loans were floated, each was oversubscribed, and a total of more than twenty-one billion dollars raised from more than sixty-five million subscriptions. The first four were called “liberty loans,” the, last, coming after the armistice, a “victory loan.”

Drawing: Victory Loan Speech.

In order to insure the success of the liberty loans the government had to embark on a new campaign of publicity, quite literally “selling the war” to the nation. In most European countries, perhaps most notably in France, a government bond issue sells itself as the people are ever on the watch for a safe investment bearing a constant rate of interest.

In the United States, on the other hand, people seem to like a touch of speculation in their investments. The banks and the financial class would readily have taken the new bonds, and did take many of them, but the administration desired a wider participation in the loan and it was consequently necessary to persuade many to invest who had never before owned a bond or planned to buy one.

To increase participation, bonds were sold in low denominations, the fifty-dollar issue being especially popular and these could be bought on the installment plan by the accumulation of “thrift stamps” and war-savings certificates. As the department stores had already familiarized the public with the trading-stamp idea this method of purchase was widely popular.

Of course, appeal was made to patriotism as well as to thrift. Buying a bond was buying a share in the war, the one best way in which the stay-at-home could help. Popular artists designed posters to bring home to the most casual bystander the urgent needs of the war, and “four-minute men” in the moving-picture theaters painted in brief words the iniquities of Germany, the hardships of the soldiers and the need for immediate aid.

Some citizens’ committees overdid matters and treated as suspect anyone, especially if an alien, who did not choose to buy a bond. Offenders were sometimes haled before extralegal or “kangaroo” courts, and occasionally yellow paint would decorate overnight the front door of the non-investor.

The federal organization of war work was paralleled and completed by state, county, municipal and neighborhood organizations. As a rule these were not permanent functionaries added to the state or federal civil service but volunteer committees, manned by unpaid workers though sanctioned by the state authorities.

So ready and apt were the American people to improvise new administrative machinery that one of the main duties of the state councils of defense was to discourage the excessive multiplication of agencies that might get in one another’s way. For instance, many charitable enterprises overlapped one another, and some were so badly managed as to waste much of the money received.

An Illinois law therefore forbade the soliciting of funds for war aid or relief except from agencies approved by the state council or recognized by the federal government, and of 1499 applications for such approval only 1045 obtained it. A general letter from the council of national defense on September 10, 1918, approved the simple type of local organization developed in Alabama:

“You will note that it contemplates county councils consisting of all county representatives of government war work—one for each agency—and no other members. It is a perfect example of coordination wholly excluding duplication of effort.”

The Illinois state council of defense may be taken as typical of the organization in the larger industrial states. Certain agencies embraced the whole state, but the following were paralleled in county or town subdivisions:
- the women’s committee, for coordinating women’s activities;
- the publicity committee, consisting usually of the newspaper publishers in each county;
- the food production and conservation committee;
- the neighborhood committee whose “primary function was the promotion of patriotic thought and action”;
- the county auxiliary, for miscellaneous duties;
- the highways transport committee, “to promote use of public roads and relieve rail transportation”;
- the commercial economy administration, to promote thrift and reduce waste; and
- the non-war construction bureau, to eliminate needless construction.

A national bureaucracy might possibly have handled the local problems of war administration more efficiently than this spontaneous growth of local committees and councils, but it could not have enlisted an equal degree of popular enthusiasm.

Poster: Save a loaf a week. The U. S. Food Administration was formed under the Food Control Act of August 10, 1917.

The fact that nearly every prominent citizen could wear some sort of button or badge, that homes and business houses could hang out flags with a star for each person serving in France, that the operation of the draft was in the hands of local civilian boards, that food-saving posters could be placed in every kitchen window, that every child could collect thrift stamps, made the war national as no congressional resolution or presidential proclamation could have.

Probably the wisest thing done by Washington in the war was not to attempt to do too much, but to leave something for the initiative of “Zenith City” and “Gopher Prairie.”

The result of this neighborhood organization was that the war seemed much nearer in 1918 than it had the previous year. The press was urged to change the phrases “the Allies” and “the Entente Powers” in news headlines to “our Allies” and “we.”

The usefulness of this shift of emphasis is shown in the changed attitude of large portions of the press. The Hearst newspapers, which in 1917 had advocated in editorial after editorial keeping the army and navy at home “and so compelling Germany, if she wants to fight, to come to us,” had now all come into line for the successful prosecution of the war.

There was no formal press censorship, but the press was enjoined to publish no details of military movements or shipping news without official approval, and these directions were generally obeyed to the letter.

An ’Official Bulletin’ published by the government informed the nation of such military operations as it was not necessary to keep secret, and the committee on public information, headed by a liberal journalist, George Creel, distributed millions of pamphlets in English and other languages on the causes of the war.

This committee, however, was highly unpopular with Congress, partly because it seemed to be an attempt to “ration” the news and partly because of temperamental clashes between Mr. Creel’s incautious wit and the dignity of some congressional leaders.

The government was as zealous to spread propaganda within Germany and other enemy countries to promote rebellion as to spread it within the United States to foster loyalty. In the summer and autumn of 1918 aviators and floating balloons carried a hundred thousand leaflets a day over a zone one hundred and fifty miles deep behind the German lines. They stressed the war aims of President Wilson and the clear distinction he had drawn between the German government and the German people, and, according to Ludendorff and other German leaders, they were among the main causes of the republican revolution in that country.

One ingenious method used by the army was to circulate postcards among enemy soldiers to be delivered up and mailed in the event of their being taken prisoner, reassuring their relatives of good food and treatment—and, incidentally, encouraging thoughts of surrender.

German soldier receives medical attention from Allied unit.

The great American art of publicity and advertisement was never more successfully employed than in “selling the war” to the United States and simultaneously “selling peace” to the enemy.

Labor troubles were among the major causes of delay in making preparation for war. The attitude of President Gompers and nearly all other high officials of the American Federation of Labor was almost aggressively loyal and few strikes of any importance were directed against the war or intentionally designed to hamper it in any way.

The trouble lay in the economic sphere, not the political. With rapidly rising prices, the displacement of trained union men by non-unionists and women, and the war-time disregard of customary limitation on the hours of labor, the trade unions feared that their hard-won gains of the past were being imperiled. Hence they demanded recognition of the union and a high standard of wages.

At the end of the first war year there was an unpleasant record in many important places: “The workmen of the Wheeling Steel and Iron Company went out last summer, thereby holding up work on 2,000,000 tin cans a day—material needed for packing the food supply of the soldiers. . . .

"The raincoat makers in New York struck for higher wages and a union shop. As they were making army slickers the employers had to yield both their demands. . . .

"The Holt Tractor Company, which makes the caterpillar tractors that form the basis of the tanks, was held up for three months, the issue of the strike being once more unionization.”

The worst conditions of all existed on the Pacific Coast where shipyard men, at the very moment when the whole issue of the war depended on the available shipping tonnage, refused to handle nonunion lumber or metal even when no other materials were available.

Even the munition factories engaged in making the Browning machine gun, a vital necessity for the army, at one time went on strike.

The administration preferred to smooth out these difficulties through such agencies as the labor committee of the council of national defense and the national war labor board rather than to pass any general law against wartime strikes, but injunctions were freely and frequently used to prevent particular strikes, even after the armistice.

For the repression of real opposition to the national cause the government had at hand two far-reaching laws. The espionage act of June 15, 1917, forbade false statements which might injure the prosecution of the war, incitements to disloyalty, obstruction of recruiting, and similar attempts to impede the activities of the government.

The act of May 16, 1918, defined as seditious and punishable all disloyal language and attacks on the government, the army and navy, or the cause of the United States in the war. Under these statutes, and even more drastic state legislation, many agitators who denounced the war or pointed to it as the nemesis of capitalism were jailed.

There was strangely little opposition from German agents or German sympathizers. Judge George W. Anderson declared that, “As United States attorney from November, 1914, to October, 1917, I was charged with a large responsibility as to protecting the community from pro-German plots. . . . Now, I assert as my best judgment, grounded on the information that I can get, that more than ninety-nine per cent of the advertised and reported pro-German plots never existed.”

Where the Industrial Workers of the World were active in the Farther West the conflict was most acute. The I. W. W. promoted huge strikes in the copper mines and in the lumber camps, apparently less to oppose the war or better their wages than to strike a blow at the capitalistic system in general. Their lawless violence was met with equal lawlessness on the other side. In August, 1917, the agitator Frank Little was lynched in Montana.

In the copper region of Arizona nearly twelve hundred strikers, about a third of them members of the I. W. W., were deported beyond the state line by force. Attempts to prosecute the kidnapers failed because local sentiment was with them.

Kidnapped and deported: Striking Arizona mineworkers are placed on railcars and deported beyond the state line, July, 1917.

During and immediately after the war, to be a member of the I. W. W. was to encounter legal penalties for “criminal syndicalism” or sedition. An amusing example of the way in which official “correctness” merged into personal enthusiasm for direct action was the report of a Nevada sheriff to the governor:

"I regret to report to Your Excellency that on such and such a date, such and such a person was forcibly taken from my possession by parties unknown. He was placed on trial by an improvised tribunal and found guilty of lukewarmness toward the cause of the United States whereupon (after tarring and feathering him) they instructed him to leave the country, telling him that if he ever comes back they will lynch him—and if he does, by , Governor, we will!"

Another type of opponent to the war was the man whose conscientious scruples forbade him to serve. Members of religious sects teaching absolute nonresistance, such as the Quakers, were exempted from military service by law, but this exemption did not cover all the cases that arose.

Some conscientious objectors adhered to no sect and believed in Christianity only as a general teaching of peace and good will, or regarded the particular war as unjust or “capitalistic,” or merely revolted emotionally against the idea of killing anyone.

Again, there was the case of Roger Baldwin, director of the American Civil Liberties Bureau, who refused to obey the draft on the individualistic plea of his “uncompromising opposition to the principle of conscription of life by the state for any purpose whatever, in time of war or peace.”

Nor were the bewildered draft boards prepared to deal with strange religious sects who not only objected to fighting but had conscientious scruples against saluting, wearing buttons (the Amish Mennonites), donning uniforms or shaving. Whether these passive resisters were cruelly or humanely treated in the prison camps depended partly on the good nature of the officers in charge, but even more perhaps on their imagination and sense of humor.

Most of what careful investigations reveal about the conscientious objectors is negative. They were rarely cowards, hardly ever positively pro-German, equal to the average recruit in physique and rather above him in intelligence tests. Some were, however, self-absorbed, neurotic, or otherwise temperamentally incapable of civic cooperation; many others were fanatical literalists in religion or passionate disciples of class-struggle socialism.

From the point of view of the army the important thing was that the conscientious objectors of all types and classes were too few in number to make any practical difference in filling up the ranks.

One of the most ill-advised expressions of overzealous patriotism was the war on the German language. Even as early as 1915 the unpopularity of the German cause had brought about a decline in the study of German in the high schools, though Spanish was more frequently substituted than French, perhaps with some thought of preparing to capture Latin-American trade.

During the war many states forbade the use of foreign languages as the primary medium of instruction even in private schools (usually making an exception of religious teaching), took the teaching of German out of the elementary grades by law or simply dropped German courses from the school curriculum by administrative action. Even ten years after the war German had not quite recovered its relative position in the curriculum of 1914.

Some officers of the American Defense Society wanted to go further and suppress all public use of the German language during the war and even proposed a boycott of it afterwards. The number of newspapers and periodicals published in German in the United States decreased from about five hundred to three hundred and forty-four in the two war years.

But the feeling against the German language, and the yet more absurd objection to German music, did not long outlast the war, and practically nothing more was heard of hasty proposals to boycott goods “made in Germany” when peace came again.

Cautiously, one by one, German-American restaurants and other places of business with Teutonic names resumed their former designations. Almost the only enduring influence of the passionate hatreds and enthusiasms of 1918 was an enhanced national self-consciousness with which we must deal in its place.

A more important influence of the war on American life was the lesson it taught in organization. The war came to a lax, individualistic people; a year was wasted in blundering experiment and another year spent in building up a sound war machine.

The full strength of the army and its equipment could not have been placed in the field until 1919, and perhaps not until 1920. The sudden, rather unexpected surrender of Germany and her allies left the government with uncompleted contracts on its hands for the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars, an army equally divided between training camps and trenches, factories and power plants half completed, and a nation which, having just passed through all the stages from apathy to profoundest enthusiasm, had no appropriate outlet for its emotions.

The abrupt termination of the war, while welcome in every way, was almost as hard to realize as its abrupt beginning. On armistice day or, rather, on the eve of the armistice—for the news had been prematurely announced—all business was suspended and thousands poured into the city streets, at once elated and bewildered.

On their heads fell a shower of paper tape and torn scraps of telephone directories flung as confetti from office windows in the great carnival of peace. So deep was this paper snow that a few matches would have set the business districts aflame, and the fire companies remained in anxious readiness for a call.

But the mass of the crowd did not want to smoke, and rarely raised a cheer or gave any other outward sign of rejoicing. It was enough to walk for miles along the city streets with ten thousand strangers. and to realize that in that moment of good news not one of them was really a stranger.

Paper snow: New York City Armistice Parade.
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