World War 1 A t Home
Shortly after America’s entrance into World War I, the United States government took a series of steps to aid in the war effort. These included the creation of various agencies and committees, as well as the passage of a groundbreaking act.
One of the first measures in 1917 was the passage of the highly contested Espionage Act, which was created to prohibit any interference with U.S. military operations and recruitment. It also extended to punishment of insubordination and any acts that were found to support the enemy. For instance, if any individual was found tampering with U.S. mail in an effort to stop people from enlisting in the war, that person would be found guilty of espionage. The Act itself has been contested in court many times.
In July of 1917, the War Industries Board was created to oversee the production of war materials, as well as the purchasing of necessary war supplies. Simply put, the WIB was tasked with ensuring that the American soldiers had the equipment, clothing, and weaponry they needed to be successful. The WIB also made sure that the Navy had everything they needed to fight, as well. They did this by encouraging large scale factories to begin producing wartime materials, such as tanks, machine guns, and bullets. It was common for an automobile factory to halt their production of cars so that they could start making tanks if instructed to do so by the WIB.
In the late summer of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed two executive orders which would create the Food Administration and the Federal Fuel Administration.The Food Administration was tasked with ensuring that there was enough food overseas for the U.S. Army as well as for the Allied powers. The price of wheat was also stabilized (meaning the price of wheat remained the same), and the Food Administration went ahead with campaigns to encourage rationing food as well as donating it. Similarly, the Federal Fuel Administration oversaw the use of coal and oil so that enough could be reserved for the troops. The Administration encouraged energy conservation efforts, such as through the proposed Daylight Savings Time, during which the country temporarily turned their clocks one hour ahead so that people did not use as much energy in lighting their homes with artificial light sources.
The National War Labor Board was established in 1918 to help settle any labor disputes or arguments that might arise in the workplace. The Board supported an eight-hour work day, equal pay for women, and the right for workers to organize themselves and to bargain collectively for their rights. Despite these positions, the Board was not in favor of laborers going on strike, as it was seen as a disruption.
From 1917 to 1919, the Committee on Public Information was actively in operation to influence public opinion and swing it in support of the war. The goal of the committee was a crucial one, and it relied heavily on propaganda to encourage people to either enlist in the war effort or generate enthusiasm through participation efforts.