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Page:Collier's New Encyclopedia v. 10.djvu/137

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parties stood loyally behind the Executive in all action looking toward a successful prosecution of the war. On June 15 an appropriation bill carrying over $3,000,000,000 for army and navy purposes was signed by the President, and a little over a month later an appropriation of $640,000,000 was made for the aviation service. It was estimated by Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo on July 24, that $5,000,000,000, in addition to what had been already authorized, would be necessary to finance the war up to June 30, 1918. Taxation and the issue of bonds on an unprecedented scale were foreshadowed by this announcement, but the sacrifice was cheerfully made. The first Liberty Loan which called for two billion dollars was oversubscribed by more than a billion. The campaign for the loan opened May 2, and closed June 15, and its raising was attended by a spirit of enthusiasm and patriotism that showed how deeply the nation was stirred.

The enormously important economic feature of national defense was not overlooked. It was realized that this was a war of resources and that the nation that could hold out for “the last quarter of an hour” would win. A nation-wide system of activities was organized that enlisted the ablest business minds of the country in the Council of National Defense, which had as its official nucleus the members of the Cabinet. The Council was sub-divided into a number of committees, each headed by a recognized expert, and their work went on under the control and supervision of the various Government departments. Herbert C. Hoover, who had demonstrated his executive ability by his work in connection with the Belgian Relief Commission, was made the head of the Food Board, whose work was to mobilize the agricultural resources of the country, stimulate economy and production, prevent waste and assure an adequate food supply not only for civilians but for the army and navy, as well as to supplement the failing resources of the Allied nations. The operation of the railroads was put under the control of a railway beard, in order to prevent freight congestion and send goods by the quickest and shortest routes. A committee on raw materials saw to it that the Government secured the requisite amount of copper, steel and other products. The Federal Shipping Board was authorized to build a fleet of wooden cargo ships, 1,000 in number and from 3,000 to 5,000 tons burden. These, it was figured, would make up largely for the damage done to shipping by the submarines, and keep up a steady stream of supplies to Europe.

Important acts passed by Congress strengthened the hands of the Executive. The Espionage Act dealt with internal foes, with especial bearing on the activities of resident enemy aliens. Death or imprisonment was provided for convicted spies. Penalties were appended for any interference with commerce carried on with the Allied nations. More rigid restrictions were put on passports. The use of search warrants was extended. The Embargo Act provided for a system of licensing the transfer of commodities abroad, and was designed to prevent supplies being shipped to neutral ports which might get into the hands of Germany, either through deliberate design or through the natural channels of trade. The act was resented by neutrals, who feared that their legitimate needs might go unsupplied, but it was warmly welcomed by the Allies, who saw in this tightening of the blockade against Germany an effective means of shortening the war.

While the cause of the Allies was being strengthened by the accession of the United States, it was being weakened by the threatened collapse of Russia. That nation, whose great work in the early years of the war had done so much toward barring Germany's path to conquest, was threatening to withdraw from the conflict. The breakdown of the entire Eastern front was foreshadowed. The Czar had been overthrown, disintegrating forces were everywhere at work, and the former empire was in a welter of chaos and confusion. The serious results to the Allied cause of Russia's defection were apparent. The Central Powers, relieved of the necessity of fighting on two fronts, could concentrate on one. Rumania, deprived of Russia's support, would fall an easy prey to the German armies. A million men could be hurried across Germany to be hurled against the hard-pressed Allies in the west. Austria would be able to give her undivided attention to Italy. The war would be prolonged indefinitely, and immensely greater demands would be made on American blood and treasure than had been anticipated.

To prevent this calamity, it was thought advisable by the United States Government that a commission be sent to Russia to assure her of this country's sympathy and support, to urge her adherence to the cause of the Entente, and to promise help in developing her resources and re-establishing her transportation system, that had utterly broken down. The Commission was headed by Elihu Root, former Secretary of State, and comprised naval and military officials, practical railway men and

Vol. X