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11-08-2015, 16:47

INDUSTRY RESPONDS TO THE WAR

The nation's industry also moved toward greater concentration. For one thing, the Department of Justice limited the activity of its Anti-Trust Division during the wartime years. Bernard Baruch and the War Industries Board encouraged cooperation among individual companies operating in a single industry, and the government favored large enterprises over small ones in granting war contracts. While the owners of industry prospered during the war, many workers also did well. The eight-hour work day was now becoming the norm throughout the country. In industries where unions were powerful, such as coal mining, wages rose as much as 20 percent over the levelof 1914. Unlike World War II, in which American industry produced mountains of war materiel for itself and its allies, the mobilization of the economy in World War 1 brought disappointing results. Matching industrial production to the needs of the military brought frustrating bottlenecks in a country in which government and private industi;y were unaccustomed to working together. For example, a massive program to build merchant ships, employing almost 400,000 workmen, produced few vessels before the Armistice. American military men had to rely on supplies of French artillery pieces and airplanes to wage the war. Had the war lasted another year, however, the power of American industry would have been visible in a flood of military equipment. Still, the war did bring to Washington a small army of businessmen, who learned to work with the military in matters of purchasing and supply. Business and military officers discovered a common language of scientific management and the benefits of cooperation. In a sense, then, the foundation of America's "military-industrial complex" was laid in World War I rather than in World War II.

 

 

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