Archive for March, 2018

Where Boys Learn to Farm and Be Soldiers

Although this 1918 article about a program to teach urban children and teenagers about agriculture and farming is interesting, the main cause of the program’s creation was based on a profound misunderstanding of the future to come:

“We are going to need more and more boys on the farms, now and after the war; it is really one of our great national problems.”

As the Bureau of Labor Statistics graph below shows, farmers and farm laborers dramatically decreased throughout the remainder of the 20th century. (Interestingly, although it’s only a small difference, farming has actually increased as a share of U.S. employment since 2000, from 1.2 percent to the current 1.4 percent.)

Where Boys Learn to Farm and Be Soldiers: Unique Experiment of a Manufacturer — Based on the Theory That Agriculture Can Be Made Fascinating to City Youths if Properly Taught (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 31, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 29th, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Life

System In Our War

The War Department underwent a substantial change at the beginning of World War I, transforming from a largely combat-based agency to a manufacturing- and business-based one. Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell explained in this 1918 interview:

The War Department [has] become a business affair. He cited the aircraft work of the army as an example.

“A year ago,” said Mr. Crowell, “there were eleven officers, all strictly military men, and about 1,000 privates in the aircraft work. Now in that branch of the war business we have thousands of officers and 100,000 men. But 96 per cent. of those officers are trained business men and engineers from big civil enterprises. Most of them are in military uniform, but that is merely a matter of form that does not go to the substance of the business.

“And this change that has come over the aircraft division in its personnel is illustrative of what is being done or has been done by Mr. Baker [Secretary of War Newton Baker] throughout the department. There is very little about it today that is military, on this side of the Atlantic, except the outward form, the dress and the assumed military ceremonial. Under all that is the same sort of spirit and energy and organization that is indispensable to the successful business enterprise.”

In the words of comedian Bo Burnham to the tune of the classic Edwin Starr song War: “War! / What is it good for? / Increasing domestic manufacturing.”

 

System In Our War: An Interview with Acting Secretary Benedict Crowell, Who Tells of a Year’s Changes in Baker’s Department 

Published: Sunday, March 24, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 22nd, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Business,Politics,War

Need of Federal Budget in Wartime

In this 1918 interview, newly-chosen House Appropriations Committee Chair J. Swagar Sherley of Kentucky proposed the formation of a Budget Committee. It would be created the next year 1919 as a “special committee” for that session only, later becoming a permanent committee in 1974.

The current chair is Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR3). He has served for a few months ever since the previous chair, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN6), stepped down to focus more attention on her campaign for Tennessee governor. Here’s a list of all 36 committee members.

Although Sherley got what he wanted, he wouldn’t still be serving to see it. Sherley lost his November 1918 reelection bid, despite having been reelected to the House multiple times since 1903 at that point.

In 1933, Sherley would be asked by President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as Director of the Bureau of the Budget, today known as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). However, Sherley declined due to ill health. However, he wouldn’t die for another four years until 1941 — so perhaps he could have served after all.

 

 

Need of Federal Budget in Wartime: Secretary of the Treasury Should Be Real Premier of Finance, Says Chairman of House Committee on Appropriations — Few Changes Necessary to Start New System (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 17, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 14th, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Business World’s Grievance Against Germany

President Trump spent the past few weeks ratcheting up his trade wars, which he claims would be “easy to win.” He has implemented tariffs on steel and uranium, in a move that even many or most of his own party’s Congress members oppose, not to mention most other world leaders. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong, and indeed America’s $566 billion trade deficit in 2017 was the highest since 2008.

But this 1918 article by Edward A. Bradford made a similar case to the argument against Trump today — namely, that freer markets rather than protectionism benefit all. Similar to how the current administration’s policies are trying to discourage Americans from purchasing products from China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and other nations, the feeling was widespread in 1918 that Americans shouldn’t purchase products or encourage business from Germany once World War I was over. Bradford rebutted that notion:

It is necessary to curb Germany in order to make the world safe for democracy. It is even more necessary in order to make the world safe for business. And the number of those who care for business is incomparably larger than the number of those who care for politics…

Business makes the whole world kin, and there is business under monarchies and democracies alike, without regard to politics. There is no law about politics, and probably never can be so long as politics does not disturb property and business. But there is a world law of business, for all the world trades together, and thereby establishes a common law of business…

No nation can allow another nation to impose law upon it, and no formula for international law can be agreed upon. Under our laws a man is entitled to trial before a jury of his peers. There can be no such jury in international cases. The case starts with prejudices, which never were so strong as now. The world is in hostile camps, and there are those who would like to see business done under systems of boycott or economically hostile organizations. This war must have an end, but a war of boycott would run interminably, with loss for all and benefit to none.

Business World’s Grievance Against Germany: A Nation Organized Like a Trust, Conspiring for Restraint of all Trade Without Guidance of Reason or Conscience (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 17, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 13th, 2018 at 3:56 pm

Posted in Business

File of ‘La Libre Belgique’ Now in New York

The daring, revolutionary, and anti-authoritarian Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique [The Free Belgium] was published during World War I — its authors and location a state of almost complete mystery.

As this 1918 article details:

“Since the beginning of 1915 this small four-page sheet has been published, almost weekly, ‘somewhere in Belgium,’ in defiance of the Germans and despite their vigorous and persistent efforts to suppress it. Its publishers have not been caught, though hundreds of arrests have been made ‘on suspicion.’ Huge fines have been imposed and long terms in jail endured by those apprehended with it in their possession, but the source of its being, the presses from which it emanates, the ‘cave automobile’ in which it is published, and the daring spirits who first gave it life and who have maintained it under ever-increasing danger are still as free as when the enterprise began in February, 1915.”

The paper was published 56 times in 1915, 48 times in 1916, and 11 times in the first three months of 1917, for a total of 115. A copy of every issue during that entire run was snuck out and brought to America by the Catholic priest Father Jean Baptiste De Ville while in Belgium, at great risk to his own life.

Their operating creed was laid out through a piece published in the publication’s very first issue:

“La Libre Belgique will live in a cave, and propagate, like Catholicism, in the catacombs. It will live in spite of persecution and official censure because it shall tell the truth, and because there is something stronger than might, stronger than Kultur [culture], something stronger than the Germans — the truth! And Belgium is the soil of truth and liberty.”

What happened to this newspaper? It ultimately published 171 issues during the war (115 by the time of this article), and still lives on today with a 35,500 daily print circulation in Belgium, plus more than 1 million online visitors.

File of “La Libre Belgique” Now in New York: Banker Has Bought It from a Priest Whom the German Invaders Could Not Prevent from Collecting Copies of Secretly Issued Newspaper (PDF)

Published Sunday, March 10, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 9th, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Journalism

France’s Airman-Artist Tells How He Works

Henri Farré was the official painter of the French government during World War I, whose job was to paint battles as he observed them from airplanes.

While this may seem like a strange occupation to be funded at taxpayer expense after the invention of the photograph, WWI was also the first major military conflict to feature aviation. And we still have official portraits of major figures such as presidents commissioned even today, despite a camera in every person’s back pocket.

In the 1918 article, Farré explained his methods:

“How do I do my work?” he went on, in answer to a question. “I am, say, somewhere in the rear of the fighting. An attack is begun. I am notified. Up I go with one of our pilots. We approach the field of battle, strike into the mist of it, keeping straight over it. I take in every detail. I saturate my brain with the topography of the place. I transform my head into a camera. It took me six months to learn to do that, but now I find it easy. I concentrate. I fix my eyes on every feature of the landscape beneath me. My brain becomes a photographic plate.

“Sometimes we hover over the battle as long as half an hour. Shells burst around us. Other airmen plunge to the ground. But we escape. Then my pilots whirls around and we fly back to the rear. We land. I have no time to lose. I sit down immediately and sketch from memory the scene I have just witnessed. From what I remember and a system of jotting down numbers for colors while I am in the air, I make a rough sketch of the battle I have just witnessed.”

The 1918 article does not do justice to Farré’s paintings, showcasing only two and in grainy black-and-white at that. Here is one in full-resolution color from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, to give a sense of the man’s talents:

France’s Airman-Artist Tells How He Works: Lieutenant Farre, Official Painter of War as Seen from the Air, Has Risked His Life Over Scores of Battles in Full Swing (PDF)

Published Sunday, March 3, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 8th, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Art,War