THE BRIDGE TO FRANCE
Edward N. Hurley
APPEALING TO WORKERS AND THE PUBLIC
VERY able and distinguished men, including Judge John Barton Payne, Admiral W. S. Benson, Mr. Albert D. Lasker and Mr. T. V. O'Connor, successively held the position of Chairman of the Shipping Board after my resignation. While he was still quite new to the job, and doubtless without reflection or intent to have his statement accepted literally, Mr. Lasker declared that the War Shipping Board had built only one ship. Some time after Lasker had resigned from the Shipping Board, I met him on the "Twentieth Century" train. We were very good friends, and naturally talked about our ship-building experiences. In the course of our conversation he asked how it happened that I got along so well with the newspaper men and members of Congress, and commented that they had been most friendly to me. He wanted to know, particularly, how it was that I succeeded with the Committee on Appropriations which provided funds for the Shipping Board. I told him that the first time I appeared before the Committee it gave me one billion three hundred million dollars ($1,300,000,000) after a hearing of about forty minutes.
"For heaven's sake," he asked, "what did you do with the money?"
"Why," I answered, "I built that one ship which you told the public the Shipping Board turned out during the war."
As a matter of fact, the Shipping Board built and delivered, in the year 1918, five hundred and thirty-three (533) ships, a total of three million thirty thousand four hundred and six (3,030,406) tons; and in 1919, we built and delivered one thousand one hundred and eighty (1180) ships, aggregating six million three hundred seventy-nine thousand eight hundred twenty-three (6,379,823) tons.
The enormousness of the task which the Shipping Board assumed at the outset of the war, and carried on up to the time of the armistice, never has been visualized by the American people. In view of the rapidity with which events transpired, the attention of the public necessarily was directed toward the battlefields in France. Hence, the multitude of details of the preparation back of the line, in which the Shipping Board was engaged, could not be comprehended by the public. With the advent of peace, and a knowledge of the expenditures of such huge sums of money as the Shipping Board and Fleet Corporation were obliged to disburse, efforts were not infrequently made to belittle their achievements.(30)
Ship-building was so essential to the winning of the war, so dependent on the morale of the workers and of the public itself, that it became desirable to organize an extensive service which would spread the news of our progress in every plant and throughout the country. To this end we established a Publication Section of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, headed by Robert D. Heinl, an experienced journalist. I sent to New York, Mr. Frank B. Lord, a veteran newspaper man and one of my chief assistants, to get the best newspaper man he could find for the Shipping Board Publicity Bureau. He returned with Mr. W. S. Meriwether, then Marine Editor of the New York World. Meriwether had been in the Navy as a boy and knew ships and shipping from an international viewpoint. Completely ignoring the time-honored publicity practices followed by various governmental bureaus, Meriwether worked out a successful plan to insure publication in the leading newspapers of articles on our work. He knew that editors wanted "exclusive features," and that stories which any one was at liberty to publish would not particularly interest them. Meriwether obtained an immense amount of publicity by heading his subjects: "Released exclusively to you, in your city. Our next feature. will be to the----." His work was most effective in educating the public to the need of ships. He was ably assisted by Mr. Stuart C. Blythe.
Another man who did remarkable work, as assistant to the Chairman., was Mr. James H. Collins, well known as a contributor to the Saturday Evening Post and other periodicals. It is the usual practice of publicity experts to scatter their articles to the four winds in the hope that they will alight on some pages of newspaper or magazine, where they will produce the desired effect. Collins proceeded differently. He sold his articles, reasoning that any product that is offered for sale is regarded more highly than a gift. The proceeds he donated to the Red Cross. Each article became the exclusive property of the publication that bought it.
I took the newspaper men into my confidence at the very outset. To me they were soldiers. Their sole objective was to help win the war, and they were essential to the success of the Shipping Board and Fleet Corporation. Without their hearty cooperation I would have had a most trying time; but through them I could tell the country what we were doing and how we were progressing. The newspapers of the country gave us unlimited space; and they certainly did their "bit" in telling to the American people the importance of ships if we were to win the war.
It was partly my aim to give the public, through the press, facts regarding our progress in building shipyards and ships, with the hope that it would seriously affect the morale of our enemies. To this end I met the Washington correspondents at four-thirty o'clock every day. My relations with these newspaper men are among my most pleasant memories. Our talks were as frank and informal as though we all had been friends of life-long standing. Many of the newspaper men called me not "Mr. Chairman," or "Mr. Hurley," but "Chief." I had such confidence in them that I did not hesitate to answer fully and honestly their most searching questions, even in circumstances when I had to admit that I had made a mistake. Never was this confidence abused. Indeed, the veterans among the correspondents apparently would settle among themselves just what should and what should not be published in the public interest. Sometimes it happened that an overenthusiastic cub reporter, desiring to make the most of any sensational possibilities of some damaging confession by me, was held in check by the older and more experienced men. I mention my cordial relations with the Washington correspondents not because I made any effort to dictate to them, but because I want to give them credit for repressing their natural desire to write exciting "stories" which would not have aided the American cause; and for adhering strictly to facts. They knew, as well as I did, that it takes time to build plants and to construct millions of tons of ships. They saw also that, in the main, we were right in the policies which we had adopted; they realized that each man in the Fleet Corporation and in the yards was doing his utmost to beat the submarines. That was the big "story"---not our occasional mistakes---and they told it.
Fig. 14. "BY-GONE DAYS". COPY OF A PICTURE PRESENTED TO EDWARD N. HURLEY AT A DINNER GIVEN IN HIS HONOR IN WASHINGTON, D. C., UPON THE OCCASION OF HIS RETIREMENT FROM THE SHIPPING BOARD, JULY 31, 1919. BY THE NEWSPAPER CORRESPONDENTS WHOSE SIGNATURES ARE ATTACHED. WM. LEE BRUCKART. UNITED PRESS; RODNEY BEAN, New York Times; RALPH O. COLLINS, New York Sun; WM. P. PLYTHE, X-I. N. S.; D. M. REYNOLDS; BRAMWELL DAVIS; O. VAN WYCK, JR., ASSOCIATED PRESS; R. B. ARMSTRONG, Los Angeles Times, R. H. BAILEY; EDWARD C. EASTON, Philadelphia Inquirer; J. F. RICHTER, JR., Central News, HARRY WARD, I. N. S.; CHAS. MICHELSON, New York World, THEO. M. KNAPPEN, New York Tribune; HAL H. SMITH, New York Times; SAM SMALL, Washington Post; GEORGE E. DURNO; WALTER SCOTT MERIWETHER; JOHN J. MARRINAN, Boston Herald; T. W. BELL. Philadelphia Public Ledger; PAUL WOOTON, New Orleans Times Picayune; ARTHUR W. CRAWFORD. Chicago Tribune; PIERCE MILLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS.
We did not limit our publicity to the magazines and newspapers. Public libraries all over the country were requested to make exhibits of their books and other literature on ships and shipping. Under the direction of Mr. John Cotton Dana, librarian of the Free Public Library of Newark, Miss M. L. Prevost compiled four bibliographies, one on "Ships and the Ocean," one on "World Trade," another on "Foreign Countries," the fourth on "Foreign Books Dealing with Ships and Trade." A plan was prepared to present the importance of ships to boys and girls in school. This called for the publication of shipping facts in elementary readers. The idea proved so interesting to the American Book Company that Mr. L. M. Dillman and Mr. Louis B. Lee, respectively president and vice-president of the company, came to Washington to discuss it with me. The result was the publication of "Sailing the Seas---the Log of Tom Darke," written by Mr. James Baldwin and Mr. W. W. Livengood of the editorial staff of the American Book Company. The introduction to this book was written by me. It appeals to boys and girls between ten and twenty years of age.
For the education of a still younger element, at the suggestion of "Jim" Collins, I invited officers of the Toy Manufacturers of the United States of America to a conference and presented to them the idea of merchant marine toys. A number of ingenious toys were displayed. One manufacturer produced in miniature the standardized, fabricated steel freighter built at Hog Island. His model was propelled over the home-carpet-ocean by clockworks. Another manufacturer invented a "World-trade" game, employing ships as the pawns or pieces and introducing storms, reefs, rocks and docking facilities as obstacles. Even sailor dolls were sold, clothed in the uniforms of the American Merchant Marine.
Busy as we were, I felt that we ought to take the public into our confidence as much as we could, and to invite its letters of inquiry. The letters came in like an avalanche. They had to be answered by some one who was thoroughly conversant with Shipping Board policies and activities. I selected Frank B. Lord, of my personal staff, to organize the business of answering letters. To my astonishment, he succeeded in getting to help him, Mr. Henry M. Robinson, later one of the Commissioners of the Shipping Board. The manner in which Robinson, a prominent banker and great executive, modestly assumed the position of a subordinate, was a lesson in self-effacement that taught us all how great a man he was.
In January, 1918, we decided to publish a weekly paper, devoted to the interests of the Emergency Fleet Corporation. It was named "The Emergency Fleet News," of which Robert D. Heinl was editor and Julius S. Holl business manager. The first number appeared February 28, 1918. Before the close of the war, "The Emergency Fleet News" attained a weekly circulation of 20,000 copies. It was not intended for general distribution. It was published solely to stimulate ship-building, by encouraging a sporting rivalry among shipyards and by broadcasting news of remarkable records and production methods.
We issued also "The Shipyard Bulletin," which was posted in the shipyards, to be read by workers so that they might be advised what progress was being made in rival yards. "The Emergency Fleet Bulletin," another publication, was posted in manufacturing plants which produced ship-building materials. This Bulletin aimed to provide some psychological connecting link between these plants and the shipyards, and to arouse in all workers engaged directly or indirectly in ship production the feeling that they constituted a cohesive army, fighting in a common cause.
Competitions were arranged in various trades at the yards, particularly in riveting, which was a controlling factor in the completion of a vessel. These "Riveting Contests" served a useful purpose, by calling attention to the possibilities of a much greater rivet drive than ordinarily was secured. One day a riveting gang in the Baltimore Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company's plant in Baltimore, headed by Finner Schock, drove 658 ship rivets in eight hours. That was the record then. The news of Schock's feat was published all over the country. The shipyards gangs were fired with the desire to beat it. Two or three days later 1202 rivets were driven in an eight-hour day by Charles Goldwise and his gang. Next came Louis Rehak and his gang with a record of 1414. Both Goldwise and Rehak took the record back to Baltimore. Two weeks later a gang in the American Shipbuilding Company's Buffalo yard drove 1624 rivets in eight hours. Finner Schock, the original record holder, was spurred on to new efforts and succeeded in driving 2720 rivets in nine hours. Edward Gibson at Kearney, N. J., beat him with 2919 rivets driven in eight hours.
England began to wake up. At first it was thought in the British yards that our records were merely Yankee exaggerations. Soon British riveters were cabling over records that for a time beat ours. A gang in the yard of Fraser & Fraser, London, carried off the palm with 4267 rivets driven in nine hours. A week later, however, the blue ribbon travelled across the Atlantic again. American papers offered cash prizes for new records. An English ship-builder offered twenty-five pounds to any American gang that could beat the English record. Charles Knight, a negro in the Baltimore Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company's plant won the English prize by driving 4875 rivets in nine hours. Finally the Pacific Coast was heard from. Tom Horn of the Moore Shipbuilding Company, Oakland, Calif., drove 5620 rivets in nine hours. The crowning achievement was a drive of 11,000 rivets in a single day, the claim of an English gang. It never was verified officially, so far as I know, and certainly seems incredible.
Riveting is probably the most important job in building a steel ship. There are many sizes of rivets, the smaller ones being more speedily handled than the larger rivets. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that the smallest size rivets were used when the highest record was made. The Fleet Corporation framed a scientific score card which took account not only of the number of rivets driven in an hour, but of their size. We heard little from the riveters about wages, after this. Some gangs at the height of the contest earned from fifty to one hundred dollars a day, divided among their members. Record-making was so exhausting that a victorious gang would be obliged to rest for a few days. Since this did not at all help the ship-building program, we placed the game on a different basis. Every shipyard was scored weekly, according to the number of rivets driven on each of its shipways. Thus everybody was encouraged to enter the game, and production was stimulated.
The contest spirit became so keen that the shipyard owners caught the fever of speed, which was exactly what we wanted. They built and launched hulls at a rate which seems astounding. Under the spur of the war emergency, many record-breaking achievements were performed in American shipyards. For speed of construction the Crawl Keys, a 3350-ton steel ship built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan, was completed in twenty-nine working days; and the Aberdeen, a 4000-ton wood ship, built in twenty-seven days by the Grays Harbor Motor Ship Corporation, held the record. Another memorable record was construction of the Tuckahoe, which was christened by my daughter Helen. The Tuckahoe was a 5500-ton steel collier, launched at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation's yard twenty-seven days after its keel was laid. The President was so interested in our every move that he wrote a letter to express his appreciation of the workmen's efforts in building the Tuckahoe in record-breaking time. I had a facsimile made of this letter. Each workman received a copy of the letter from the White House, signed by President Wilson, and each prized it highly. By the summer of 1918, wood ship-building had progressed to the point where one wood ship was being delivered each working day.
Fig. 15. PAVELICH, CHAMPION RIVETER, AND HIS CREW. WINNERS OF THE WORLD'S PRIZE FOR RECORD UP TO MAY 27, 1918, RECEIVING PRIZE FROM MISS MARR.
To keep up enthusiasm in the yards was no easy task. The ship-workers would work feverishly for a few weeks; then would follow a decline in production. We were fortunate in having some two-fisted labor leaders, who appreciated this situation and did their utmost to stimulate the efforts of the men. One of them was Mr. M. J. Maguire, business agent of the Boiler Makers Union in Seattle. In a speech to the men, he called their attention to a large service flag hung in one of the yards in honor of 267 employees who had entered the military service and were in France. He said that not one of them was receiving double pay for overtime or was "laying off" on Monday morning because he had been out late Saturday night. There was no. labor representative to speak in their behalf . "Those men," he said, "declared themselves willing to go to. the trenches in France. Some are wading up to their knees in water. They are willing to lay down their lives, that you and I may be free and that democracy may prevail all over this world. You have agreed to work eight hours a day; but the men in the trenches, whom those stars represent, work twenty-four hours a day! You expect to get paid for eight hours a day; and we expect that you will put in eight hours for it, and that on Monday morning every man will be here. There is something you will have to do while this war is on---WORK! WORK! WORK!---like blazes!"
We were constantly inventing new ways to rekindle the ardor of the workers. One of these periodical back slidings came at the end of May, 1918, just when the Germans were doing their worst on the western front. May deliveries had not satisfied me, and June promised to be a bad month. It happened that the Moore Shipbuilding Company informed me of its intention to celebrate the Fourth of July with a triple launching. Here was just the opportunity I wanted. The Fourth of July being the greatest day in American history, I decided to celebrate it by launching as many ships as possible---in fact the greatest number that ever slipped into water at the same time in the history of shipbuilding. I fixed the number of ships at one hundred, and passed the word to all the yards. As soon as I announced that the Fourth of July, 1918, was to be our banner day and that more good could be done by finishing ships for launching than by setting off firecrackers, a wave of enthusiasm swept through the shipyards. Thirty days of intense effort followed. The newspapers caught the fever, and set the stage for the most dramatic Fourth of July ever celebrated since the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Fig. 16. WAR POSTER I DRAWN IN COLORS BY THE WELL-KNOWN ARTIST, J. C . COLL, TO CELEBRATE THE LAUNCHING OF 95 SHIPS IN ONE DAY.
On June 26th, I was able to cable to General Pershing:
Not by delaying a single ship, but by speeding to the utmost, the American shipyards will launch nearly 100 ships July 4. On this day, celebrating the Nation's independence and backing up boys in the trenches, the men in the shipyards will launch 450,000 deadweight tons---as much as was launched in six months last year. Your inspiring leadership of the American Army in France has thrilled the shipyard workers. And if the time comes when you need even the shipyard men over there, they will go to the last man. We want you and the boys in the trenches to know that the men in the yards are going the limit to provide, in record-breaking time, the ships that will carry more men, food, and munitions to the intrepid American Expeditionary Forces. A cablegram from you, to be read in the shipyards July 4, will arouse increased enthusiasm.
General Pershing replied:
Shipping Board, Washington.
The launching of 100 ships on the Fourth of July is the most inspiring news that has come to us. All ranks of the Army in France send their congratulations and heartfelt thanks to their patriotic brothers in the shipyards at home. No more defiant answer could be given to the enemy's challenge. With such backing we cannot fail to win. All hail American ship-builders!
One hundred was a number that caught the public fancy. As a matter of fact, we did not quite realize our great expectations as to the number of ships; but we did succeed in launching ninety-five vessels of 476,164 deadweight tons. In large cities bulletins posted during the day indicated the time when ships (in given localities) would be launched. Every yard did its best to make that Fourth of July memorable in the history of the country. There were no fewer than four triple launchings.
This scheme of arousing and maintaining interest proved so strikingly successful that we developed it further. Attention was focused on the bulletin boards. We saw to it that they were placed at the heads of the ways, to proclaim as boldly as possible the number of days in which each hull upon which the men were working would be launched; how far ahead of the schedule the work was; and the names of the workers. Competition was quickened, at first among local yards; then among yards in different states; finally between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and between the Gulf and Great Lakes yards.
I was invited by my colleague, Bainbridge Colby, to attend the dinner and Liberty Loan drive of the Lambs' Club in New York City. There were present some five hundred of the leading actors of the country and their friends. Among them were John Drew, Will Rogers, Augustus Thomas. Wilton Lackaye presided, and the drive proved to. be a marked success. More than $150,000 was subscribed within an hour. Patriotic speeches were made and the thespians were justly proud of their efforts. Naturally, in such a gathering there was much enthusiasm and all of the participants seemed to be anxious to do their bit in helping to win the war. Several wounded actors had just returned from France. They added to the interest of the occasion by singing songs about the Red Cross girls, songs composed especially for the event.
It happened that the drive occurred at about the time one of the Congressional investigations of the Shipping Board was in progress. Some of the vaudeville stars had been making humorous remarks, on the stage, about the Shipping Board. Every night at the "Follies," Will Rogers, in his monologue, had taken occasion to joke about the Shipping Board having built only one ship. This, of course, always got a laugh from the audience. But those of us who were doing our best to provide ships could not see the humor, especially as remarks of that character tended to create a belief in the public mind that our organization was inefficient. I was called upon for a speech. In the course of my remarks I sought to correct that misapprehension, to sketch an outline of the enormity of our task and to tell what we had done. I made a personal appeal to the players, saying that I knew their hearts were right, and that if they were desirous of helping to win the war they would support us on the stage as well as off. Will Rogers, who followed me with one of his typical speeches, admitted that he had been guilty of thoughtlessly disparaging the work of building ships. He raised his right hand and said, "Never again." I further stated that in recognition of their great Liberty-Loan meeting, which had been very successful, our Government would consider it a privilege to name one of our largest ships "The Lambs."
After that dinner we had the whole-hearted cooperation of actors and theatres in our effort to create a favorable public opinion that would stimulate the work of building ships. We christened an 8500-ton ship The Lambs, and to-day she is sailing the seven seas.
Here I must pay tribute to the many brilliant artists who rejected lucrative commissions from magazines and newspapers, to prepare stimulating posters which did much to arouse both the public and the shipyard owners to a pitch of intense enthusiasm. Their's was a whole-hearted, spontaneous sacrifice. Soon after the United States declared war, Mr. Charles Dana Gibson was inspired with an idea of the spiritual significance of the war. The unimaginative manner in which the Government was using pictures greatly distressed him. The various branches, particularly the recruiting services of the army and navy, failed to realize as he did what momentum could be imparted to the popular mind by dramatic, well-drawn pictures. When he first broached his conception of mobilizing the talent of our artists in the cause for which we were fighting, he met with rebuffs on every hand. A less ardent spirit would have accepted defeat in the face of indifference and opposition. Instead of retiring into his shell, offended at his reception, Mr. Gibson concluded that he had not been sufficiently convincing. He persisted in his efforts. Finally Mr. George Creel was infected by Gibson's enthusiasm. With the approval of the President, Creel created the Division of Pictorial Publicity, of the Committee on Public Information, and made Gibson its director.
Any one who imagines that artists are a happy-go-lucky lot, temperamentally unfit for organized effort, would do well to study the war record of Gibson's Division of Pictorial Publicity. Calling upon Mr. F. D. Casey, then art editor of Collier's, to help him, he built up an organization on almost military lines. Gibson was the man who gave to our whole art movement of the war its purpose and direction. He instructed the artists to abandon materialistic aspects of the conflict, such as pictures of garbage cans into which good food had been thrown at a time when we were on rations; and to depict the deeper significance of the cause in which we were fighting. His men obeyed him, by drawing and painting pictures that fired the imagination and awakened emotions similar to those which would have been aroused had the public been able to see, with its own eyes, a child starving in Belgium or an American soldier killed for lack of ammunition. Casey gave the assignments to the artists, saw that the work was completed within the stipulated time, and watched every detail from brushwork to printing.
Practically every available sculptor, magazine illustrator, painter, cartoonist, letterer and "idea-man" in the country was enrolled in the Division of Pictorial Publicity. There must have been nearly three hundred.
17. CHARLES DANA GIBSON, CHAIRMAN OF THE DIVISION OF PICTORIAL
PUBLICITY, AND A GROUP OF ARTISTS AND BUSINESS MEN IN WASHINGTON. LEFT TO
RIGHT (WITHOUT REGARD TO ROWS), D. W. LEE, HERBERT ADAMS, PROF. RICHARD
RICE, M. L. BLUMENTHAL, H. DEVITT WELSH, OLIVER DENNET GROVER. GEORGE CREEL,
FREDERICK KEPPELL, W. E. HALL, EDWARD N. HURLEY, JOSEPH PENNELL, CHARLES
DANA GIBSON, R. D. HEINL, CHARLES PIEZ, MAJOR KENDALL BANNING, JOSEPH P.
TUMULTY, DR H. S. GARFIELD, E. H. BLASHFIRLD, M. LOUIS AUBERT, OF THE FRENCH
HIGH COMMISSION, CARL MILAN AND FRANCIS JONES , ADMIRAL SAMUEL MCGOWAN,
PAUL BARTLETT. AT THE EXTREME RIGHT IS F. D. CASEY, ART EDITOR OF Collier's.
Among the more noted were Herbert Adams, E. H. Blashfield, Joseph Pennell, Cass Gilbert, William J. Beauley, F. G. Cooper, C. B. Falls, Louis Fancher, Malvina Hoffman, Wallace Morgan, Herbert Paus, W. A. Rogers, Harry Townsend, Frank J. Sheridan, Jr., II Devitt Welsh, C. D. Williams, W. T. Benda, Haskell Coffin, James Montgomery Flagg, Henry Reuterdahl, J. O. Leyendecker, Harvey Dunn and Charles Livingston Bull. Gibson had wonderful talent to conjure with. All the artists who were not drafted into military service worked without compensation, even paying their own railway fares whenever it was necessary to call them to Washington. No books were kept. Each man was his own comptroller, treasurer and paymaster.
Each Friday evening the principal artists, our "captains" of military art, would meet at Keen's Chop House in New York and listen to Gibson, or to men who had been at the front and who could give vivid accounts of actual warfare. Thus Gibson engendered the spirit of teamwork. He called it "getting religion." Over and over again he admonished the draftsmen, painters and cartoonists "Draw 'til it hurts."
The Division of Pictorial Publicity worked for all the various governmental agencies, including Liberty Loan committees, the Army, the Navy, the Food Administration and the Shipping Board. The head of each agency would tell the Division of Pictorial Publicity exactly what he wanted; and Casey would see to it that those wants were supplied. I found the artists an invaluable aid in maintaining and heightening interest in ship-building, both in the yards and in the press. Some of the most attractive posters produced during the war were made for the Shipping Board and for the Fleet Corporation. Especially effective were those made by Jonas Lie, James Daugherty and H. Giles.
Newspaper artists also added their talent to the efforts which our Publicity Department was putting forth. Such nationally known artists as McCutcheon, Darling, Macauley, Kirby and others, told in pictures not only the urgent need of ships but the efforts which were being put forth to provide them.
Service flags, buttons for ship-workers, and flags for shipyards were designed and distributed. At Heinl's suggestion, John Philip Sousa composed his "Volunteer's March," which he dedicated to me. We distributed copies of it to shipyard bands and others.
We borrowed an idea from the army with respect to the service flags. Every household in the land that could boast of the right to fly an army service flag did so proudly. Because ships were as necessary as soldiers, we regarded shipyard employment to be as important as service in the army. Many workers, however, felt that their patriotism was not receiving the acknowledgment that it deserved. For this reason we provided a service flag of our own design, bearing a star for each shipyard worker. In order that no shipyard worker might be accused as a slacker, without being able to disprove the charge at all times, we furnished a service button to each man who had anything to do with the construction of ships. That such buttons, though of no intrinsic worth, were highly cherished for their sentimental value has been demonstrated to me repeatedly. Years afterwards, in various sections of the country remote from shipyards, not infrequently men have exhibited proudly their shipyard buttons, as evidence of their war service.
This systematic campaign in educating the public to a realization of the magnitude of our effort profoundly impressed our Allies. In its issue of November 16, 1918, the Parisian newspaper Oui thus summarized the effect of our publicity work.
From the most powerful financier to the poorest citizen, from the engineer to the workman, from the inhabitants of the coast to the ranchman of the central United States everybody has heard and understood this patriotic appeal. Without ships the war could not be won; without them no economic victory would be possible after peace. Every American knows this; and it is this little detail which constitutes to-day the strength and wealth of the United States. But this idea which consisted in impressing upon the consciousness of every person the necessity for tonnage was not easily accomplished, and it will not be without difficulty that it is inculcated in each of us in France. . . The patriotic fibre responded at once, the legendary American navigator roused himself at once from his sleep of more than fifty years. And soon every American was acquainted with the necessity of the hour and offered spontaneously his assistance.
SUPPLY OF MATERIALS
FROM frying pans for the galley to 2800 horsepower engines, in fact everything that a ship needs, had to be procured again and again, for the hundreds of ships scattered in scores of shipyards along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. Here was a problem involving civil and mechanical engineering, and also frequent adjustment of financial and labor difficulties, education, railway traffic, building and storage. It could be solved only by centralized control. We established a Supply Division of the Fleet Corporation to keep in close touch with American and European manufacturers. The Outfitting Department alone of this Division had dealings with more than 150 manufacturers of supplies and about a like number of ship-building plants. Its Raw Materials Section drew upon some forty sources of supply, and supplied about sixty consuming ship-building plants. The Lumber Department, through its Fir Production Board on the Pacific Coast and its yellow-pine headquarters on the Gulf Coast, reached out to every important sawmill in the great timber belts. Only with a highly ramified organization was it possible to prevent delay in supplying the thousand-and-one things that enter into the construction of a ship, or that must be considered in housing workers and providing for their welfare.
What a stupendous problem this constituted may be gleaned from the vast amount of material required by Hog Island alone, where "A" and "B" ships were fabricated.(31)
The number of pieces of steel and liners required for each "A" ship was 17,389, and for each "B" ship was 19,403. The rivets necessary to be driven for an "A" ship numbered 530,000; for a "B" ship 630,000. Rivets were delivered to the yards literally in train loads. Hog Island planned to build 180 ships of the "A" and "B" classes. Had it completed that program it would have required 3,271,000 pieces of hull steel---enough to build twenty Grand Central stations, or thirty Woolworth buildings, or ten Quebec bridges, or seven miles of twenty-story buildings 100 feet deep; or enough 90-pound rails to lay 4000 miles of standard single-track railroad, which is 1000 miles greater than the distance from Philadelphia to San Francisco. For the 180-ship program, Hog Island would have needed 124,000,000 rivets, weighing 22,300 tons. This amount of steel is equivalent to a rod seven-eighths of an inch in diameter and 4200 miles long. The number of rivet holes that would have been required was 337,590,000. The area punched for the rivets would have been equal to twenty-four acres.
Contracts for steel were let practically at one time. For this reason the mills were flooded with orders. The President showed his keen grasp and interest in this business problem. On July 24, 1918, he wrote me that he was disturbed to find that the industrial demands of the country for the supplying of war needs were far in excess of the productive capacity of the country. While the war demands of the country would have to be met, it was necessary, he said, that they should not be anticipated, because he was fearful that orders for war supplies might be accumulated in the shipyards and materially affect the curtailment of essential industries.
The Shipping Board, through the Fleet Corporation, rapidly became one of the largest purchasers in the world, of both raw and finished materials. But it could not buy what it wanted without considering the needs of essential industries. As the War Industries Board was charged with the control and allocation of the fundamental materials of industry, the Shipping Board of necessity had to keep in the closest touch with it. This contact was established by having Shipping Board representatives in the Priorities Division and in the Requirements Division of the War Industries Board.
From the Chairman of that Board, Mr. Bernard M. Baruch, and from his associates and assistants we received the most substantial aid. Although Baruch was not a creative industrialist, he was a profound student of American economic conditions. He applied his knowledge with brilliant success in the nationalization of American industry as a whole to meet the exigencies of war. He proved to be one of the shrewdest judges of men. Genuine, innate ability rather than reputation, was his test of a man's fitness for a job.
Probably many wondered why Mr. Alexander Legge, of the International Harvester Company, was willing to act as Vice-chairman of the Board and Chairman of its Requirements Division. I found Legge an ideal man to work with. He had just the international business viewpoint needed. Thanks to his thorough knowledge of European affairs, he was able single-handed to manage half a dozen bureaus and sections of the War Industries Board. As Chairman of the Requirements Division, we came in continual contact with him and learned to appreciate his extraordinary talents at their true worth. His manner of doing things was in marked contrast with that of those human dynamos who galvanized many of the governmental agencies during the war---a quiet, modest man, who moved surely and silently to the definite goal that he had in view.
The Priorities Division of the War Industries Board was headed by Judge E. B. Parker, an able lawyer and born conciliator. Manufacturers of non-essentials who had waxed eloquent in trying to prove to him that the war would be lost unless their plants were permitted to operate full blast, left him convinced that they ought to sacrifice their private interest to the public welfare. With Judge Parker and Mr. Leonard J. Replogle, who had charge of the distribution of steel, we worked hand-in-glove, in order to keep a steady flow of essential materials.
It was fortunate for us that Mr. James A. Farrell, President of the United States Steel Corporation, had five members of his staff devoting all their time to checking up the shapes and plates required in the shipyards and delivered by his own firm as well as by all other steel companies. These materials were followed up not only through the mills, but also after they had been placed on the cars. Their location at all times was known by means of tracers. When they arrived at the shipyards, Farrell's New York office was notified by wire. Information required, regarding a shortage of shipyard steel, was furnished me promptly.
The romance of the sea truly was in Farrell's blood. His father was a ship captain who had cleared, on the brig Monte Cristo from Brooklyn, for a foreign port forty years ago and never was heard of again.. During the years that the son was still a youth, Captain Farrell took him on numerous voyages, and to many lands. On those trips young Farrell acquired extensive information which made him an acknowledged authority on such subjects. To-day he can tell from memory the depth of every harbor in the world, the class and style of ships capable of entering such harbors as well as the exports shipped from and the imports required by any country or island. It is with a feeling of deep gratitude that I express my appreciation of Mr. Farrell as a man, for the wonderful cooperation and service which he gave without stint, and also for the personal interest he took in the success of our shipbuilding program. Farrell's interest in things of the sea is an inherited trait that was fostered during his boyhood, and followed him into his personal life as a hobby and recreation. This interest led him into a peculiar experience on one occasion. It concerned a collector of ship models and old books on shipping, who well knew of Farrell's love of the sea and frequently used to call on him. One day an old gentleman visibly excited made his appearance at Farrell's office, and asked to be permitted to see him at once on a mission of grave importance. Being engrossed in important work, Farrell was inclined to have the man call at a later time. However, the caller was insistent that what he had come to talk about would stand no delay. The secretary yielded and admitted him. Much to Farrell Is surprise the man said nothing upon entering the, office; but merely thrust at him, with much agitation, a worn document, yellow with age. It proved, upon examination, to be the last United States customs papers which Mr. Farrell's father had signed, the day he set sail from Brooklyn many years before on what proved his last and fateful voyage.
When Edward F. Carry was made Director of Operations, he organized the new Transportation Division to control the railroad transportation of shipbuilding materials purchased by the Fleet Corporation. In charge of this Division were, successively, Mr. David L. Ewing and Mr. F. C. Joubert. By April, 1918, there were fifteen transportation districts, each with a manager; and a plan had been devised whereby material reached the yards on time. It was possible to send shapes in train-load lots to their respective destinations from a place like Chicago; but if material in a single car reached a railway centre, it was a matter of chance when that car would take its place in a train headed in the right direction. Car assembling centres were made of points such as Joliet, Illinois. At these centres single cars were coupled into solid trains and then were dispatched to their proper destinations. Before the armistice was signed the Division was sending weekly as many as forty trains from Chicago to the Pacific Coast.
Activities of the Shipping Board entered into each phase of the war and we were in close touch with the War Trade Board, the Railroad Administration, the Food Administration and the Fuel Administration.
Among the many problems of Dr. Harry A. Garfield of the Fuel Administration was that of getting coal to New England. We endeavored to cooperate with him and he did effective work in impressing upon the people the importance of ships.
Mr. Herbert Hoover, Food Administrator, always was under pressure to relieve the food situation in Belgium and other countries and to maintain balanced rations at home. To assist him, we gave him every ship that could be spared. The world knows of his success.
Secretary McAdoo, as Director-General of Railroads, took a personal interest in our ship-building program, despite the multitude of tasks imposed upon him, and continually was endeavoring to rush our raw materials across the continent to the shipyards. In this task he had associated with him Mr. Carl R. Gray, who had charge of Railroad Operations, and Mr. Edward Chambers in charge of traffic. Chambers devoted much time to supervising the work of insuring prompt delivery of our supplies to the shipyards.
THE WAR TRADE BOARD
The War Trade Board, of which Mr. Vance C. McCormick was Chairman, was organized to prevent the exportation of materials to neutral countries from which they might be reshipped to Germany; and also to control imports into the United States. That Board also had control of the bunkering of all ships, domestic and foreign. No ship could obtain coal or oil, for fuel, in American ports unless it had been licensed to do so by the War Trade Board. This placed in the hands of the Board the complete control of the departure of all ships from American ports.
I served as a member of the Board early in 1917, and learned the methods employed by shippers in endeavoring to get permits to ship their wares into Germany.
Some time before my appointment and before we entered the war, on board a train from Chicago I met a gentleman whose business was the manufacture of malt. He informed me that each month he was shipping $250,000 worth of his product to Germany, through Sweden, Holland and Denmark. He was quite enthusiastic about his success in getting it through without detection. A few days after the organization of the War Trade Board we were bombarded with telegrams from friends of this malt manufacturer, urging us to issue a permit allowing him to export his malt to neutral countries, and giving us the assurance that he would provide a bond and guarantee that the malt would not reach Germany. I related to my colleagues on the Board the conversation I had with the maltster. The license he applied for was not granted.
Requests for a permit to ship 1000 tierces of lard to Switzerland were made by the Swiss Minister in Washington. Dr. Alonzo B. Taylor, a member of the War Trade Board, who was familiar with the situation and knew the amount of fats required by Switzerland, recommended that the license be denied, as the Swiss already had a sufficient supply for their own population. The Board delayed action, but under some pressure. To our surprise, Jusserand, the French Ambassador, called and urged us to grant Switzerland's request. We learned later that the lard really was for Germany, in exchange for coal needed to operate in Switzerland electric light and other plants, which were making war materials for France. The Board refused the license.
Before the war, most inhabitants at the borders of the small, neutral nations of Europe-Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland, and in a measure the larger nations, were like next-door neighbors in any local community. They had been trading and borrowing from each other for centuries. Many of them had been educated in the schools and universities of neighboring countries. Race representatives had intermarried. Naturally, they had many interests in common. Military leaders expected that all commercial relations with the enemy would cease, instanter, with the declaration of war. However, business men resented any interference, by their respective governments, that would prevent them from serving their old customers in neutral countries, particularly at war prices. They did not concern themselves with the question whether or not the neutrals would ship the products into Germany. This applied alike to Great Britain and France.
Business men in Great Britain had not been expecting war, and time was required to adjust the commercial affairs of the country to a war basis. As a rule, local customers stopped ordering overnight; but on account of the war, orders from neutrals flooded English factories. Had these orders not been accepted, labor immediately would have become unemployed. That would have thrown out of balance the whole economic structure, and in view of war conditions might have created a dangerous internal situation. Lord Northcliffe admitted to me that during the first two years of the war Great Britain sold to Holland and other neutral countries millions of dollars worth of materials. A substantial amount of this material no doubt was sold to Germany and helped to prolong the war.
Many members of Congress were protesting against British interference with our trade on the seas. Pressure on our government from business men, urging that the government protect them in their rights to ship to neutral countries regardless of whether those commodities were going to Germany or not, was so great at one time that war was threatened.
The United States demanded the "freedom of the seas" for our commerce and went to war against Germany when her submarines tried to stop us. The seizure of one of our shipments by the British was the cause of great concern. on the part of our government and of Great Britain. At one time the situation was quite serious, until two bills of lading were found, one showing shipment to a neutral country and the other direct to Germany.
The League of Nations may give Europe the opportunity of deliverance from her fears; but while the theory of the League is sound, that economic pressure by a group of strong financial nations may prevent or shorten a war, the home economic problems of each individual nation must be carefully considered. They have a direct bearing on the state of mind of the people and on the political situation which may change overnight. The question always will be how long the producers of any nation will accept national restraints that cramp their economic opportunities and deny them trade advantages resulting from foreign conflicts.
WILSON AND BAKER AS PACIFISTS
PRIOR to our entrance into the war it was the opinion of many persons that President Wilson and Secretary Baker were pacifists. This opinion was shared by officers in the Army. Hence when a declaration of war against Germany seemed imminent the Army was greatly concerned as to the kind of Commander-in-Chief President Wilson would be and whether or not Baker would prove himself a real fighting Secretary of War. The fighting qualities of both soon were disclosed in connection with the important problem of raising and maintaining the huge army necessary for operations in France. Obviously, in view of the sad experience of Great Britain with voluntary enlistments, compulsory service was the most logical method and the most capable of rendering justice to all concerned. Nevertheless, compulsory military service was thought to be hostile to American traditions; and in view of our heterogeneous population and somewhat divided sympathies it was thought possible that Congress would not pass a draft law.
General Hugh L. Scott, Chief of Staff, first presented the suggestion of the Selective draft to the Secretary of War, having previously discussed the matter with General Leonard Wood. Baker gave the suggestion much thought and discussed it at length with General Scott and finally laid it before President Wilson. After a little discussion with Secretary Baker, who was convinced of its advisability, the President accepted the proposal without reservation and instructed Secretary Baker to have the necessary legislation prepared, so that it could be taken to Congress as soon as he read a war message if such message should be necessary. Acting under the President's instructions Baker sent for General E. H. Crowder, Provost-Marshal of the Army, and told him to start preparing the legislation. Consulting with Baker frequently and discussing with him various problems as they arose, Crowder worked on the legislation for three or four days. Hence, when the President's war massage was read it contained a statement that legislation looking to the draft was ready to be submitted to Congress. The same afternoon copies of the proposed law were delivered to Mr. Dent, Chairman of the, House Committee, and to Senator Chamberlain, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs.
I must express my admiration for the manner in which General Crowder proceeded to raise the national army. I doubt if his colossal undertaking has received anything like the recognition that it deserves. To me Crowder will remain one of the great figures of the war, a modest, self-effacing and self-sacrificing officer imbued with the one idea of serving his country well. I regard him as one of the ablest military organizers that any country has ever produced.
As may be supposed, it was not possible for the Shipping Board to recruit tens of thousands of men for ship-building without an understanding with General Crowder. He had to consider the requirements of General Pershing, who needed millions of soldiers, and of the essential industries, as well as of ship-building which called for upwards of 350,000 workers.(32)
But no man was more keenly alive to the immensity of the Shipping Board's task than was General Crowder. It was his labor policy that made it possible for us to use the many ship-workers who volunteered as the result of the impassioned appeal of the "four minute Men,"(33) and all without crippling the army. Upon Howard Coonley's shoulders fell the major part of the work of administering that policy in connection with shipyard labor.
Under General Crowder's regulations, placed in force on December 15, 1917, all registrants, irrespective of classification, were eligible to be placed in the Fleet Corporation's classification list. The effect of so placing a man was the granting of special deferment to calls for military service, either upon the request of an authorized official of the Navy Department or of the Fleet Corporation, or of the recruiting service of the United States Shipping Board. This special deferment obtained only so long as the registrants remained thus engaged.
"WORK OR FIGHT"
On May 17, 1918, General Crowder promulgated his famous "work or fight" order. Its genesis is very forcefully related in the second report of the Provost-Marshal General to the Secretary of War, on the Operations of the Selective Service System, page 75.
In a sense, what Crowder did was to put essential industries on what may be called a labor ration. He considered the nationality of the workers, and the character of the occupations in which they were engaged; and thus he established what may be called priority control of labor. Chauffeurs, perfumery salesmen and the like had either to join the colors or to seek employment in one of the essential industries. With the aid of such a broad-gauged man, we had no difficulty in manning the yards.
In the West, Americans built the ships. In the East, we had to rely largely on many unnaturalized foreigners who had no real interest in the conflict. In some yards on the Atlantic Coast fully 50 per cent. of the workers were unnaturalized. Many of them could not speak English. As I look back at the trying months of the war, I am very much impressed by the fact that despite our labor troubles, ship-building proceeded with scarcely any important interruption. Great Britain constantly was harassed by ship-building strikes. She had no large alien population to assimilate and to fit into the industrial organization of the war. Considering the motley international character of our laboring population, we had a more difficult task than that of Great Britain.
RECRUITING AN ARMY OF SHIPYARD WORKERS
In only two ways could an army of 350,000 shipwrights, riveters and others be recruited. Primarily, there was the obvious method of tempting, with higher wages, experienced mechanics engaged in other industries. That method is applied even in times of peace when conditions are abnormal---when, for example, orders accumulate and manufacturers worry about the labor supply. Employers become almost panic-stricken at the thought of losing business, or the impossibility of making deliveries at the stipulated time. They outbid one another for labor. The war magnified this practice to the nth power. Atlantic shipyards were the worst offenders. Some of them even sent representatives to the Pacific Coast, authorized to promise not only tempting wages but also the payment of railway fares including Pullman berths, to the East. Not to be outdone, the Pacific Coast ship-builders advertised for labor in eastern papers and held out similar inducements. Government yards did not hesitate to outbid private yards. Shipyards, as a whole, were competing in the labor market with steel mills, munition factories, and plants with which, in normal times, they would not have had the remotest concern. We have heard of pickets parading up and down in front of works and trying to induce men within to join a strike; but the war presented the spectacle of picketing for a different purpose. Some shipyards went so far as to engage men to stand outside the gates of competitors and to lure away riveters, machinists and skilled artisans, with every conceivable blandishment. Indefensible as is this practice of recruiting labor at another's expense at any time, it was doubly so in time of war. It was apparent that if we of the Shipping Board could tempt men from factories and mills with the offer of higher wages, that they could be similarly lured away from us. Is it any wonder that the cost of building our ships was unreasonably high while competition for skilled labor was so keen between shipbuilders? This constant changing of men, from one yard to another, hampered their efficiency to a degree that seriously affected our production ability.
It has been said that President Wilson was not willing to accept advice. But from letters that were sent to him, of which many have been published, the people of the country must be fairly well satisfied that he was offered plenty of it. I found him ready and willing to receive suggestions. However, he was very much opposed to having one member of the Cabinet interfere with the work which came under the head of another; and to receiving suggestions as to how another man's department should be conducted. He was quite right in that, of course. The President deemed it a reflection upon his judgment in appointing the particular individual against whom criticism was made, and felt that it tended to affect the morale of that department.
In the War Cabinet meetings, when a member presented recommendations to the President, he expressed his views freely, Other members expressed theirs, particularly if the subject under discussion entered into the scope and operation of their departments. Frequently, if some member discussed a matter and continued "going around in a circle," instead of arriving at the point, the President listened patiently and when an appropriate opportunity presented would say, "Well, I must confess I am up a blind alley." This usually had a wholesome effect.
SHOULD INDUSTRIAL DRAFT BE EXTENDED TO INDUSTRY?
I recall, in a War Cabinet meeting, a suggestion for taking over all the steel plants, including those of the United States Steel Corporation, and operating them by the Government. The President listened attentively. Being vitally interested in the matter of providing shapes and plates for ships, I frankly voiced my hope that this would not be done. I then pointed out that we were receiving the materials we needed for building ships; that while I appreciated the fact that the railroads, manufacturers of automobiles and other users of steel might be short of their requirements, if there were any movement toward having the Government take over these efficiently managed steel plants we would be handicapped later in getting supplies and our building program could not be continued along the basis of the schedule we had outlined.
The subject was passed over with very little further discussion, and never again was it seriously considered. It was my conviction that if we were to take over the steel industry its efficiency would be reduced 50 per cent. within six months. At that particular time, I was having some sad experiences with a number of Government-managed properties and did not favor further government operation of industry.
I hope an industrial draft-law never will be enacted. The human element enters into every phase of business and of war. When the Government took over the railroads, that very day individual responsibility from the president down to the section foreman on each road was transferred to the Government, with the result that all along the line those men lost their initiative. A similar condition would result from an industrial draft. We may have a large Army and a large Navy, during a war; but unless there are great industrial leaders looking after their private businesses, and personally responsible for the delivery of supplies for the Army and Navy, the efficiency of managers and men in industrial plants soon will be lost. Extreme difficulty would be encountered in winning a war with the sources of supplies inefficiently managed.
The factor enabling Germany to fight all Europe, for a time, was not so much the superiority of her military establishment as it was the superiority of her economic system. The economic structure of a nation must be efficient in order to be effective. Unless production and transportation back of the lines are well managed by private citizens and without governmental interferences, a chaotic condition will develop. What does it matter if industry does make war profits and workmen receive high wages, if they produce results that enable the nation to conclude its war quickly and successfully? Individual initiative and responsibility make the wheels go 'round. We would not think of saying to the workman: "Now you are patriots and you must work for low wages during the war." Nor should we say the equivalent to the owners of plants. Whether we are at war or not, there will be inefficient management in various industries. We have enough of this already, without attempting anything which would breed more under war conditions. If we tax war profits sufficiently, business will pay for the war.
At different times I had many interesting experiences with officials of large corporations. I was compelled to ask some of them to do what seemed to be impossible in making deliveries of materials and equipment to the Fleet Corporation. Many of those men had boys in the trenches. Remembering our earnest pleas, and with their hearts with these lads in France, they not infrequently returned to their plants, explained the exigencies of the situation to their staff organizations, and then made deliveries ahead of schedule time.
In the stress of building turbine engines and generators for our ships, I always knew that I could depend upon that distinguished industrial leader, Mr. Anson W. Burchard, Vice-chairman of the General Electric Company, who never failed to exert himself to the utmost, to be of service to the Shipping Board. Because of this fact I came to lean heavily upon the General Electric Company, knowing that with its efficient method of doing things it would be able to supply my demands. Mr. H. L. Monroe, Vice-president of the company, also faithfully looked after our requirements.
Fig. 18. "THE BIG PARADE". A SAILOR, A SOLDIER AND A SHIPYARD WORKER. WAR POSTER DRAWN IN COLORS BY THE WELL-KNOWN ARTIST, JAMES MONTGOMERY FLAGG.
Believing that some action would have to be taken to arouse a spirit of genuine enthusiasm and a greater interest in their work, among shipyard employees, so that they would remain in the yards where they were engaged, I introduced a plan to raise 250,000 patriotic workers to supplement those already in the shipyards if the latter did not work harder and more regularly. We limited the time for this enrolment to ten days. I am happy to say that at the end of that time 285,000 volunteered to report for duty whenever we wanted them. They were the much-talked-of "shipyard volunteers." Such was the effect of the enrolment and of the educational work preceding it, that within nine months we had increased the number of employees in our shipyards from 50,000 to 350,000 and had our program backed by the entire country. It was here that Robert D. Heinl, head of the publicity bureau of the Fleet Corporation, did particularly effective work. Newspapers, magazines, motion picture theatres and the organization of "four-minute men," consisting of 20,000 speakers, were used to impress upon the people the need of building ships at top speed. Postcards also were distributed in theatres and among other audiences addressed by the "four-minute men," to be mailed to me by those who were willing to work. in the shipyards. The postcards, bore these words:
Every speaker was instructed to state that he made his appeal as "personal representative of Chairman Hurley of the Shipping Board, "so that the message he conveyed would come from the fountain head. The postcards in turn were addressed to me personally for the same reason. That was done not because I had any desire to thrust myself into the spotlight, but because I knew that there would be a heartier response to the appeals of the "four-minute men" if they talked in behalf of a man, instead of an impersonal entity such as the Shipping Board or the Fleet Corporation. The effect was electrifying, not only on the country at large but in the shipyards. The slackers in the yards---and I must admit they were not few---reached the conclusion that a quarter of a million ardent patriots, bent on building ships, were after their jobs. Thereupon they proceeded to bestir themselves. The ringing cheers of audiences that listened to the "four-minute men" were registered in every shipyard, by way of the newspapers.
I regard our solution of the labor problem as one of the outstanding achievements of the Shipping Board. Henry M. Robinson did his first important work for the Shipping Board in this campaign. He came to us in July, 1918, from the Council of National Defense. Through his earliest association with the Council, he was able to make all its extensive machinery a part of the shipyard recruiting force. He was ably assisted by Mr. D. M. Reynolds, who acted as liaison officer between the Council of National Defense and the Shipping Board. Every unit of the Council, throughout the country, was told by letter or telegram just what the Shipping Board problem was. All were informed in confidence of the lack of shipyard workers, the threatened danger from strikes, etc. The job of enrolling shipyard volunteers was put up squarely to the home towns.
The effort was surprisingly successful, and 4920 meetings were held with an attendance of 5,081,277. There was awakened in the shipyard workers not only a sense of national importance of their jobs, but a new ideal of citizenship. An improved morale thereafter manifested itself in a gratifying increase in ship production. This campaign accomplished even more. It sold the idea of ships to people living outside the seaboard cities. The enrolment did more to make the nation ship-minded than could fifty years of talk.
HOUSING AND TRANSPORTING SHIPYARD WORKERS
WHEN shipyards were constructed and now communities of workers sprang up, we had to become real estate agents and builders. The thousands of men and their families could not be left to shift for themselves. They had to be housed, and transported to and from their work. Often I wished for Aladdin's wonderful lamp-that I had only to rub in order to command willing genii to build houses and railway lines overnight. But there was no lamp---only money. I never realized, until the war, how futile is mere money without brains and willing hands. No one needs to be reminded of the lack of houses prevailing both during and after the war. In some Connecticut factory towns, three different sets of workers had to take their turns at sleeping in the same boarding houses on a three-shift or eight-hour sleeping basis. Picture to yourself a place like Brisol, Pa. When the Merchant Shipbuilding Company erected its yard there, 12,000 workmen had to be housed in some manner. Very few dwellings were available there. Similar conditions prevailed elsewhere. Even in such industrial centres as Gloucester, Camden, Philadelphia and elsewhere in the Delaware River district, houses had been taxed to the limit of their capacity before we embarked on our ship-building program. House-building had stopped. When new yards were built, and the capacity of old yards was trebled and quadrupled, workmen by the thousands were recruited. Providing dwellings became about as important as building ships. Indeed, the ships could not be built unless the workers were housed. Gouging landlords even threatened to make it impossible to obtain shipyard labor at all.
England also had been faced with a similar shortage of houses for shipyard workers, and we felt that we might profit by studying her experience. Mr. F. E. Ackerman had prepared for the Council of National Defense a report on. English conditions and this proved immensely valuable to us. It became more and more evident in England that housing was a phase of war, as important as the drilling of soldiers, the building of ships and the production of munitions.
In December, 1917, a Senate Committee began. an investigation of the Shipping Board. Admiral Bowles was asked to prepare certain facts for the Committee. He told his assistants: "One of the Senators is sure to ask how Congress can help us; and I want to tell him that we can use some of the appropriated moneys in building houses, for shipyard workers." Late one night, the necessary measure was rather hurriedly dictated and placed in the Admiral's bag next morning when he started for the committee room. As he had predicted, the expected question was shot at him. The Admiral answered, "Yes, we want some houses and here is the bill." The Senate passed the measure exactly as it had been drafted, including the typographical errors. Later, when the bill reached the. House and was referred to a committee, the lawyers had an opportunity to make some needed improvements.
Congress appropriated altogether seventy-five million dollars ($75,000,000) for housing, and twenty-four projects were drawn up within the limits of this appropriation. The whole program called for 8774 dwellings, nine hotels, 914 apartments, twenty-one dormitories, eleven cafeterias, two schools, one hospital and eighty-one stores. Thus, a housing capacity was assured for 28,863 shipyard workers and their families (56,296 individuals).
In order to carry out this program, the Fleet Corporation advanced money, on liberal terms, to local realty companies that had been organized by the shipbuilders concerned to construct houses on land owned by them, taking back mortgages to cover the amount invested in houses. It was stipulated that in case of non-payment the mortgage would not be foreclosed until after two years had elapsed if the war did not end before that time; that the principal should be paid back to the Fleet Corporation at the rate of 3 per cent. per annum, beginning with the expiration of the two years; and that the excess war cost be written off to reduce the mortgages by an amount equal to the excess cost of performing this work under pressure of war conditions.
It was not enough merely to. provide houses for shipyard workers. They had to be transported to and from their work. Facilities for transportation, particularly near those yards which literally sprang up on waste and unpopulated ground, were either hopelessly inadequate or totally lacking. The sum of $20,000,000 was set aside to extend existing transportation lines and to build new lines. The purchase of 363 street cars was financed for the service of seventeen shipyards. Enlargement of railway power facilities was financed for fifteen shipyards. Thirty steamboats were placed in service for twelve shipyards. Sixty railway schedules were improved for forty yards. Working hours were "staggered" in ten shipyards. Steam railroad schedules were improved for twelve yards. As a result of these augmented facilities 184,000 employees were regularly transported to and from the shipyards.
J. Roger Flannery built the foundation for the housing program, and later the Passenger Transportation and Housing Division was placed in charge of Mr. A. Merritt Taylor. We selected him as the manager of the division on account of his fine record.
OUR LABOR TROUBLES
IT COST the nation at least three hundred million dollars ($300,000,000) to teach 350,000 men and 130 new managements how to build ships. From the day I assumed office, the labor difficulties of the Shipping Board and the Fleet Corporation beset me. Every industry in the country was confronted with constantly rising wages. Each grant of higher wages increased the cost of living. As the cost of living rose, there were more demands for increased wages.
Altogether eighteen federal labor adjustment boards were created during the war to act for essential industries, and although these many boards conferred with one-another from time to time, the government never adopted a uniform labor policy. That is one reason why so little success was attained in checking the rising cost of living, and the resultant rising cost of labor.
The Fleet Corporation grew with such astounding rapidity that it became imperative to meet labor problems as they arose. No human being possibly could have predicted the many problems of hiring, keeping and paying labor. In the beginning each division of the Fleet Corporation was more or less a law unto itself, so that in the matter of labor it could act without much regard for the other divisions. This was serious enough; but matters were made worse because governmental labor agencies and bureaus not directly connected with the Shipping Board or with the Fleet Corporation also had a word to say. Matters were not helped much, either by the Ship-building Labor Adjustment Board (created to pass upon and settle labor disputes) or by the Division of Labor in the Fleet Corporation, which also was a mediating body.
SHIPBUILDING LABOR ADJUSTMENT BOARD IS CREATED
A practical policy was needed that could be followed throughout the country. Only a central agency or board could frame and apply such a policy. The Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board was created on August 20, 1917, as the result of a memorandum signed by representatives of the Navy, the Fleet Corporation and the respective presidents of the principal international unions whose members were employed in shipyards. Samuel Gompers named Mr. A. J. Berres as the labor representative, and Mr. V. Everit Macy was named by President Wilson. Many names were urged for the post of the Fleet Corporation's representative, by both the Fleet Corporation and the Navy, not one of which proved to be satisfactory. At my suggestion, Mr. Edward F. Carry of Chicago finally was appointed, and elected Vice-chairman. Macy was made Chairman of this Board, and for that reason it soon became popularly known as the Macy Board, although its official title was the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board.
THE GOVERNMENT PAID THE TOLL
Just what were the powers of the Macy Board had first to be decided before strikes on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts could be settled by its members. The issue was squarely raised by a flat refusal on the part of shipyard owners in the New York and Atlantic districts to pay out of their own pockets any wage increase that might be granted. If the shipyard owners demands were to prevail, the Fleet Corporation would be called upon to pay indeterminable millions, as wages were adjusted to meet the rising cost of living. To set up a budget of ship-building costs and remain within it clearly would be impossible. In September, 1917, a wage increase of only 10 per cent. would have added $17,500,000 to the cost of ships commandeered, and approximately $30,000,000 to the cost of steel vessels, either actually under contract or about to be contracted for. This was only the beginning. It was evident that there would be renewed and continued demands by the workers for increase of wages.
Thus we faced the cheerless prospect of obligating ourselves to pay untold millions of dollars as increase in wages while the shipyard owners, with whom we had contracted for the construction of ships, would not be called upon to bear any of this threatened additional expense.
In setting up the Board, three men were named to weigh impartially the labor problems presented in the respective yards---one to represent labor, one the public and a third the Fleet Corporation. The shipyard owners as a whole were not represented on the Board, as obviously it would be improper for a shipyard owner in one district to sit in judgment and assist in determining issues that arose in another district. Conditions in North Atlantic seaboard yards were different from those which prevailed upon the Pacific Coast and in South Atlantic and Gulf Coast yards. Therefore, when a given yard had labor difficulties which the Macy Board was called upon to readjust, a representative of labor in that particular yard and a representative of the owner of that yard (with voting power) were permitted to sit on the Board during the hearing of grievances with which they were directly concerned.
I maintained that the Fleet Corporation thus had only one vote out of five. From the outset, Macy assumed the position that the Fleet Corporation should pay all increases in wages during the war. Berres, the labor representative, agreed with him. The labor representative of any particular yard with which the Board might be dealing naturally was more interested in obtaining the increased wage-scale than he was in who should pay it. He felt safer, however, in placing the burden upon the Fleet Corporation, and consequently his vote invariably was with Macy and Berres. It was obvious that the shipyard owner was not highly concerned, either in granting or refusing an increase in wages---except, of course, that he desired to avoid strikes and other difficulties with his labor. Inasmuch as he was building ships at a specified contract price, when an increase of wages was necessary he was in favor of having the Fleet Corporation meet the demand. This combination on the Board left Carry, the representative of the Fleet Corporation, decidedly in the minority.
I strenuously opposed this policy on the part of the Board, realizing that, as the shipyard owners became indifferent regarding the increase of wages, it would materially affect their efficiency and thus retard the ship-building program. I advocated a proposal that the shipyard owners pay one-half of the wage increase and that we guarantee them a minimum of 10 per cent. profit on their contracts. I took the further position that final approval of any award made by the Macy Board, involving wages, should rest with the Fleet Corporation. Otherwise I could not be held responsible for the ultimate cost of ships. My position was overruled; and the high cost of ship construction, which later subjected us to much unjust criticism, must be attributed largely to. the absolute power which rested with the Macy Board to grant increased wages, the entire expense of which fell upon the Fleet Corporation.
It is impossible even to approximate what this policy cost the country. But I am fully convinced that tens of millions of dollars might have been saved if shipyard managers had been compelled to assume their fair share of the wage increases that were granted from time to time.
The Macy Board proceeded to the Pacific Coast to settle strikes involving 40,000 workers besides 10,000 other metal-trade craftsmen in California who had violated their agreement to abide by the rates established by the Navy. The shipyard workers there felt that they had an added grievance because their delegates to Washington had been unable to confer with the Macy Board, owing to Carry's absence from Washington. Hence, the Board had not only to smooth their ruffled feelings, but also to make the best terms it could.
When Carry resigned as a member of the Macy Board, he stated he was fully conscious that it was inefficient in its extravagant method of handling labor disputes; that no matter how sincerely and honestly its affairs were conducted, its decisions could but result in unduly raising the cost to the government. Carry became Director of Operations for the Shipping Board; and the Macy Board vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Mr. Louis A. Coolidge of Boston. His work was invaluable. He knew that, in all probability, the workers and shipyard managers both were somewhat in the wrong. But he could not comprehend the spirit, on either side, which had permitted such an impasse in a terrible national crisis.
The Board could not arrive at an unanimous decision on the Pacific Coast issues. The labor representatives voted with the labor member of the Board, just as I had foreseen. Labor dissenters insisted that the high-wage rate paid by the Skinner & Eddy Corporation be granted to all workers in Pacific Coast shipyards. The Macy Board contended that this higher wage applied to only 6000 men and should not be made the basis of wages of 50,000. 1 knew something of labor union psychology and that it was no time to consider the justice or injustice of the arguments of the Macy Board. If the Board's contentions were to prevail, I knew that there would be more trouble on the Pacific Coast. Therefore, I granted a 10 per cent. war-bonus to all employees on the Pacific Coast who worked "for six consecutive days in any week, and a total of not less than forty-eight hours." Thus, I hoped to avoid slacking on the part of men who were inclined to earn money by working two or three days and to spend it without working in the next two or three.
HOW THE DELAWARE STRIKES WERE HANDLED
Since the Board could not convene on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts simultaneously, we had to settle the Delaware district strikes. This matter was handled by Vice-chairman Stevens. A 10 per cent. increase in wages was granted, with the understanding that any later award would be retroactive to November 2, 1917, the day on which the strikers resumed work.(34)
When, the Macy Board returned to the East, late in 1917, it began hearings of its own. I was disappointed that the Board had not standardized piecework rates on the Pacific Coast. The step taken by the Board in this direction in the Delaware district certainly was correct, especially since about 60 per cent. of our ships were built on the Atlantic seaboard. On the other hand, when the Board agreed that, "under no circumstances" would piece-work rates be lowered during the course of the war, I felt that it was not taking into account either the possible duration of the conflict or the probable measures to reduce the cost of living that might be taken by the government. It is a matter of history that the rules which aimed to settle rates, especially those paid for piece-work, constantly were violated; and more particularly by the new yards, which had to compete with the old in recruiting labor. The Macy Board relied entirely upon the Fleet Corporation for the enforcement of wage and piece-work agreements. It was extremely difficult to prove that a shipyard had resorted to the practically undetectable procedure of adding a certain number of fictitious rivets to those actually driven, or of paying lump sums irrespective of the amount of work done. These violations, despite the Fleet Corporation's arduous efforts to check them, continued up to the signing of the armistice. Even had it been possible for the Fleet Corporation to prevent violations, we were confronted with the fact that the Macy Board had been empowered to establish minimum rates only.(35) One yard always could steal labor from another, by paying a higher scale than that fixed by the Macy Board. These violations of the Macy Board's decisions were predictable at the very outset
CONSEQUENCES OF THE MACY BOARD'S POLICY
In reviewing the work done by the Macy Board, I wish to express my regret that it did not endeavor to make the shipyard owners pay a definite part of the wage increases which it granted. Wherever there was a shortage of men, employers tacitly encouraged workers to demand more than the Board was willing to grant. And why not? The Fleet Corporation was paying the bill for increased wages. Nor could there be any incentive on the part of the employer to heighten efficiency. So long as the government assumed his increased labor costs, why should he produce more work per man, per hour, or per day? What inducement had he to establish harmonious relations with his men, if the Macy Board made its own arrangements with them? Economically, the Macy Board doubtless acted wisely, in most instances. Psychologically it was wrong. There must be incentive and also just reward, in any industrial enterprise; and this, fundamental fact the Macy Board practically ignored. It was only by making the most glowing promises to these men, that they were kept at work during the trying summer of 1918. It was practically impossible to develop ship-builders, at low cost, in the face of such tendencies.
Nevertheless, I must express the utmost admiration for the work done by the Macy Board in studying such recondite matters as retroactive pay, learner's and journeymen's rates, classification of workers, competition for labor, uniform piece-rates, and the relation of cost of living to wages. Indeed, I doubt if any of the numerous labor adjustment boards created during the war, on behalf of various governmental agencies, considered these questions more thoroughly and effectively than did the Macy Board. What I contended from the start was that if the Fleet Corporation paid all the increased wages, managers would be indifferent and inefficient, thereby seriously affecting our production. The Macy Board, in its published report, frankly stated the results of its policy, as follows:
(1) Acceptance by the Government of the obligation to reimburse wage increases tended to undermine the responsibility of builders for holding down costs.
(2) Whatever of normal employer psychology was retained by the more conservative builders was continuously being torn down by the competition of the newer and more speculative yards.
(3) The reaction of the new conditions upon the builders created a situation in which practically no responsibility for initiating machinery of enforcement could be left with the employer.(36)
Dr. L. C. Marshall, who succeeded Coolidge, was a professor in the University of Chicago who had made a mark for himself in drafting a national labor policy and in trying to have it adopted. In my opinion, he did more than any other man to harmonize the discord that prevailed in the yards.
I am convinced, however, that our publicity work, our reserve of shipyard volunteers, our persistent and systematic appeals to the patriotism of the workers and our word-pictures of consequences that must ensue if ships were not forthcoming at top speed, averted more strikes than did the wage increases of the Macy Board. If we had fewer labor troubles than the British shipyards, it justly may be attributed to the appeals we made to human hearts---in making employers and employees together realize that they, also, were on the industrial firing line; that they were toiling in a common crucial cause; that without ships we might lose the war-and with it all that America held dear!
In all of these matters, we had the cooperation of Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor. Of course, Gompers was very alert and insistent upon obtaining the full rights of labor, as construed by him. While pressing these demands with all the ardor and vigor characteristic of his long and successful career as the head of American labor, we never found him unduly obstinate. He always was ready and willing to cooperate and to reach an agreement that would enable us to carry on our work. Had he been a man of narrower vision and more selfish motives, we might have encountered obstacles extremely difficult to overcome. Like many others, I had at times entertained the feeling that Gompers was playing his own game. During the war, however, notwithstanding his zeal in promoting the interests of the millions whom he represented, I came to regard him a loyal American first and a leader of labor afterwards. I have felt that we had the personal sympathy of Gompers, particularly in the matter of strikes affecting our shipbuilding program; and in solving other questions seriously involving the winning of the war, Gompers always demonstrated his loyalty.
Fig. 19. INTERNATIONAL LABOR BOARD. M. VANDERVELTE, MINISTRY OF LABOR, BELGIUM; M. COLLIARD, MINISTRY OF LABOR, FRANCE; SAMUEL GOMPERS. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR. UNITED STATES; GEORGE N. BARNES, MINISTER OF LABOR, GREAT BRITAIN; M. LOUCHEUR, FRENCH MINISTER OF INDUSTRIAL RECONSTRUCTION; M. MAHAIM, BELGIAN DELEGATE; EDWARD N. HURLEY; SIR MALCOLM DELEVIGNE; GEORGE BERRY; EDWARD BENES, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, CZECHO-SLOVAKIA; HENRY M. ROBINSON, AMERICAN DELEGATE; H. B. BUTLER; ARTHUR FONTAINE, FRENCH MINISTRY OF LABOR; LEON JOUHAUX, GENERAL SECRETARY, CONFEDERATION GENERALE DU TRAVAIL, AND OTHER DELEGATES REPRESENTING CUBA, SOUTH AMERICAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
At the Peace Conference in Paris, I served with Gompers on the International Labor Board. I represented business. Loucheur of France, Barnes (member of the British Cabinet without portfolio) and other prominent men, were members. Gompers was elected Chairman. The proposal of radical labor members with regard to the control of the world's output of coal by the labor unions, which would give the unions immense power in the event of a general strike, did not appeal to me. I asked Gompers if he was in sympathy with a movement of that kind. He replied, "Absolutely No!" He added that, in this respect, workmen of America had nothing in common with workmen of European countries; that American workmen enjoyed far better living conditions and higher wages, and that their outlook was hopeful. On the other hand, he said, in many European countries (including Russia) workmen were underfed, their living conditions were bad, and that their children had not the opportunities afforded to the children of American workmen. He further declared that one of the reasons why European countries could raise large armies in a comparatively short time was the fact that soldiers were better fed and clothed than civilian workmen, and therefore many of the latter were willing to enter the armies in order to improve their personal conditions.
Chapter Twenty-One: Allied shpping problems
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