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First Annual Report of North Carolina Council of Defense, 1918:
Electronic Edition.

North Carolina Council of Defense

Funding from the State Library of North Carolina
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First edition, 2002
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

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Source Description:
(title page) First Annual Report of North Carolina Council of Defense, 1918
North Carolina Council of Defense
20 p.
Commercial Printing Company
Call number Cp970.9 N87cr c. 3 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

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RALEIGH, MAY 30, 1918.

His Excellency, THOMAS W. BICKETT,
Governor of North Carolina.

        SIR:--The North Carolina Council of Defense, appointed by you, has just finished its first year of war work. The Council therefore submits its first annual report.


        In many of the States in which the Legislatures have met since war was declared, appropriations have been made for the Councils of Defense, and these bodies have been given rather broad authority. To show the importance attached by the State to such work as the State Councils are called to do, I append a few of these appropriations:

Michigan $5,000,000.00
Massachusetts 2,030,000.00
Maryland 2,000,000.00
Pennsylvania 2,760,000.00
New Hampshire 1,000,000.00
Vermont 1,000,000.00
New York 1,000,000.00
Maine 1,000,000.00
New Mexico 750,000.00
Ohio 250,000.00

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        In the State of Indiana $400,000.00 is being raised for the County Councils alone.

        As our Legislature has not met since our country was plunged into war, the North Carolina Council has had to do what it could on very small funds. A few big-hearted and patriotic men have made a monthly contribution to this work, and a few others, equally generous, contributed a flat sum.

        We have spent during the year $3,591.23. This was disbursed as follows:

Postage $525.00
Printing 750.00
Clerical help 827.50
Supplies 103.85
Telegraph and telephone messages 56.49
Expenses of meetings 191.30
Appropriated to the Women's Division 650.00
Traveling expenses (speakers, etc.) 446.10
Four-Minute Speakers' Organization 40.65


        It would have been utterly impossible to have accomplished on this meager sum what has been done but for the fact that all the workers in the organization, except the clerical helpers, have rendered their services entirely free, and the members of the Council have not only borne their own expenses to and from meetings, but have been among the most liberal contributors to the expense account. The County Councils,

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with equal earnestness, have borne their own expenses, and the chairmen of many of these Councils have been at very large expense.


        The State Council was organized on the 31st of May, 1917, with the following members present: Governor T. W. Bickett, Adjutant-General B. S. Royster, both ex officio members, and Messrs. Geo. W. Watts, Joseph Hyde Pratt, J. Bryan Grimes, C. C. Taylor, W. S. Lee, R. N. Page, F. L. Seely, George Howe, Mrs. J. E. Reilley, and D. H. Hill. Hon. B. R. Lacy is Treasurer, and Mr. W. S. Wilson is the Secretary of the Council. The members of the Commission have all been deeply interested in the problems before us and very helpful in their counsel and assistance.


        Just after the organization of the State Council, an active campaign to organize a County Council in each of the one hundred counties was begun. This involved a multitude of letters, but was finally accomplished in every county except one. A chairman and six other members constitute the usual Council. The County Councils organize the township and community councils.

        Many of the State's busiest and wisest men consented to take charge of the county organizations, and at once threw system, energy and effectiveness into the organization. No organization

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was ever served by a more loyal group of men than the State has been by these County Chairmen. They have responded to all calls made on them, and in many instances have initiated and carried out most commendable activities. They started their work a year ago, and at that time our people were not thoroughly informed as to the magnitude and the necessity of the war. Hence, many of them had discouraging experiences and encountered much apathy, but they labored on untiringly and their labors largely contributed to the splendid spirit now prevailing in the State.


        As thousands of soldiers and sailors were to leave their business for an indefinite period, it was seen that a committee of lawyers and business men in each county could render these departing men many legal and business services. Hence, county Business Aid Committees, composed of lawyers and business men who were generous enough to offer their services free, were constituted. These committees have drawn wills, transferred property, filled out power of attorney papers, arranged for soldiers to vote--in short, whatever a soldier or sailor asked, they have done. They have also assisted the families of those who needed help, and will, we hope, be of great assistance in helping to secure work for returning soldiers when the war is over.

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        At the opening of the war there had been comparatively little study generally given to the successive steps that led to our participation in the conflict. Hence, the first efforts of the Council were to inform the people as widely as we could as to the causes of the war and to awaken them to their responsibilities in a world conflict. Four ways were adopted to reach these ends:

        First, articles were prepared for publication and given as wide circulation as we could. An effort was made to get these into our county papers, so that they might reach those who were remote from the town dailies. Many articles were printed. A whole issue of the State Journal was contracted for, and this paper, carrying war material, was distributed widely throughout the State. A synopsis of the insurance law for soldiers and a synopsis of the Congressional Act to protect the civil rights of soldiers and sailors, both prepared at the request of the Council by Mr. James H. Pou, were printed and sent to soldiers and to Exemption Boards, to be placed in the hands of the soldiers. Copies of admirable speeches by Judge J. C. Pritchard and Mr. James H. Pou were issued in pamphlet form and sent out in large numbers.

        Second, we undertook to distribute by mailing lists, or by direct transmissal leaflets, bulletins, circulars, posters, addresses, etc., prepared by the various departments in Washington. In

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this way a very large volume of reading matter has been distributed throughout the State.

        Third, a Speakers' Bureau was organized and an endeavor to have speeches made in every nook of the State was continuously kept up. Able men both from within and without the State have taken part in this service. The County Chairmen arranged for appointments in their counties for local men, and also invited many speakers from without the counties. Many of the County Chairmen themselves spoke in almost all the townships in their counties. Advantage was taken of every holiday to have speakers present war issues. On Labor Day, on North Carolina Day, and on the Fourth of July, a coöperative effort was made to have a speech delivered at every schoolhouse in North Carolina. Last fall we joined heartily in the movement to have a war speech at every community and county fair. Speaking appointments for a good many distinguished speakers and returned soldiers from without the State have been made. It would be hard to estimate how many speeches have been made in the State in the past year, and the Council wants to acknowledge its indebtedness to the large number of able men who have so often, at much sacrifice and at personal expense, responded to these calls.

        Fourth, the Judges of the Superior Court, in kind compliance with the request of the Council, have made it a point to discuss, in their charges to the grand juries, civic responsibilities in times

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of war, and some of them have appointed members of the bar to speak to the people during a recess of the court.


        The Council wrote to the owners of every moving picture and vaudeville show in the State, asking permission to interrupt their performance long enough for a speaker to make a four-minute war talk. Without a single exception this permission was heartily granted, and these brief talks in towns and cities have reached throngs of people and have been illuminative to people too busy to read.


        While we have few alien enemies in our State, there were some pacifists and many who were opposed to the draft law. In the main, these people were good citizens. The Council felt that they ought to be reached in a personal way and either converted or admonished not to allow themselves to come in conflict with the law. The County Councils did excellent work with these people. Quietly they interviewed scores of them and had their friends remonstrate with them and admonish them as to their duty. This work alone would justify the formation of the Council, for it has saved many good people from irretrievable blunders and opened the eyes of many others. Since the passage of the Sedition Act by Congress it is

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easier to deal with persisters in this line. Whenever requested to do so, the Council has asked the Department of Justice to send agents to investigate flagrant or suspected disloyalties.


        The State Council has, of course, been the agent designated by the National Council to present to the State all requests for coöperative services. These have been of many different sorts.


        At the request of the State Food Administrator, Mr. Henry A. Page, who has done a new and difficult piece of organizing and administrative work rarely if ever equaled in North Carolina, the County Councils suggested names of County Food Administrators, and in many counties the chairmen assumed these vexatious duties themselves.


        When the Council was asked to nominate a Fuel Administrator for the State, it was happy enough to secure the acceptance of Mr. A. W. McAlister, of Greensboro. Mr. McAlister threw all of his well-trained mind and executive experience into this work, and the results that he achieved show the character of the service that he did. Mr. McAlister has had, after nearly a

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year of duty, to resign on account of health. Mr. R. M. Norfleet, of Winston-Salem, succeeds him in this office.


        Mr. T. L. Bland, of Rocky Mount, acceded to the request of the Council that he give all his time for several months, without salary, to the enrollment of men for the Labor Reserve Service. Mr. Bland organized his office systematically, and has registered, indexed, and certified a large number of men for Government work. These men are called as they are needed by the Employment Service.


        Mr. Joseph G. Brown, who holds appointment as State Chairman of all Liberty Loan campaigns from Secretary McAdoo, through the Federal Reserve Banks, asked the coöperation of the Council in his campaigns. We furnished Mr. Brown the names of all the County Chairmen, and they aided him not only in perfecting his organization, but all the Councils have thrown the weight of their organization into these campaigns. The Council also furnished many speakers for the campaign. Nothing speaks so clearly for the splendid organization that Mr. Brown so untiringly and so effectively set up, and also so clearly for the commendable and generous loyalty of our people, as the fact that the State's last quota of $18,655,000 was oversubscribed by thirty-four per cent.

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        The National Council requested that our organization aid this Commission in its North Carolina campaign. Our Council gave this much time, but as the work is not well understood, the subscriptions were not large.


        People respond more readily to an appeal for funds for the Red Cross than they do for any other form of war-time responsibility. Everybody knows and admires the wonderful resourcefulness and accomplishments of this relief organization. Hence, it has always been a peculiar pleasure to all our war workers to assist in these campaigns. During the recent campaign, Mr. R. D. W. Connor, Chairman of the Speakers' Bureau, was instrumental in supplying speakers at various points.


        Last fall the Council, by written articles, by sending out posters, by correspondence with young men who made inquiries, and by speakers, aided in the securing of recruits for the Army.


        In the vigorous campaign which Col. F. H. Fries, Director of the Thrift Stamp Sales, is making with such force and skill, all the four-minute

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speakers were asked to make special efforts to press this sale, and all the Chairmen were urged to appeal to the people of their counties.


        To secure information for the Custodian of Alien Property, every County Chairman was called on for a report of the alien property held in his county. This report practically reveals most of the property owned by aliens in the State.


        The labor of filling out the questionnaires of registered men and the subsequent classification of the men in accordance with government regulations was an enormous task. The Exemption Boards were overwhelmed with work. In the various counties volunteers were secured, who cheerfully and intelligently came to the rescue of the boards. At the request of the Governor, the Council secured the names of three lawyers in each county to act as an Advisory Committee for drafted men. The burdensome service rendered by these lawyers is worthy of commendation. Without their aid this tedious duty could not have been performed in the time specified.


        For the relief of the railroads in loading and transporting fertilizers, an appeal was made to all farmers to combine as many fertilizer

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orders as they could, and to buy as early in the year as possible.


        To facilitate communications and unify the plans, Shipping Board Committees were appointed at our seaport towns. These committees also were requested to take up the housing of workers.


        Prof. J. M. Johnson, West Raleigh, was appointed State Director for this service, and the Council has endeavored by communications with the colleges and schools of the State to secure the enrollment of such workers. It is interesting to note that in most cases this effort showed that there were very few boys who did not have some form of summer work.


        Arrangements were made by which the local councils either managed or participated in celebrations to the men who have been called to service. In many counties monster meetings were held and are still being held as these young men leave their homes.


        Our Government has devised one of the cheapest and simplest systems of insurance ever

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provided for an army. It not only covers provision for death, but provides a support for men who may be maimed or broken in health. In the early months of the war it was difficult to get soldiers to avail themselves of the full amounts provided, and some of them who did not understand the system hesitated about insuring themselves at all. To prevent such a misfortune the Council asked the Governor, Mr. James H. Pou, Chairman of the Wake County Business Aid Committee, and Secretary W. S. Wilson to visit the large camps where North Carolina soldiers were gathered and urge them to avail themselves of this wise provision. This was done, and the speeches delivered and the urgency of the officers of the camp resulted in most of our men's taking a good insurance. The Council is trying to keep this matter before all men drafted for new calls.


        Through Mr. J. Paul Leonard, of Statesville, as Chairman, the matter of curtailing so many deliveries by merchants has been presented to towns and cities. Of course the object of this reduction is to release men for more essential service.


        Following a recommendation from the National Council, the State Council has undertaken to examine the worthiness of appeals to our people for money, and to try to prevent trivial

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or unworthy causes from interfering with the important ones, and also to protect the people from impostors. All over the Union people have been asked not to contribute to any cause that is not approved by the State Councils.


        State Director of Extension, B. W. Kilgore, is Chairman of the Council's Committee on Conservation. His entire staff of Extension and Demonstration workers have been most active in this vital matter, and hence there has been little for our Council to do in this connection except to urge the coöperation of our citizens generally with the carefully directed forces of the Extension Service. Our Council has, in and out of season, through its workers urged an increase in all edible crops.


        Realizing how necessary this organization is to the Army, the Council has taken part in all its money campaigns, and also in a search after qualified workers to enter the list of secretaries.


        As soon as war began, the officers of the Council urged the immediate formation of a Home Guard. As soon as practicable this was begun. The Adjutant-General asked the County Chairmen to select picked men to form these bodies

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of Reserve Militia and to swear them into service. As the Government had no arms to spare at that time, much delay was caused. However, the Government is now able to furnish some rifles, and it is believed that each County Chairman will soon be able to present full ranks to the State Government.


        Committees to engage in a crusade to get all idle men to work have just been appointed in the counties. These committees will gather the names of all unemployed men and take such steps as the law authorizes to set them to work.


        In accordance with a request from the State Board of Health, our county organizations have been joining hands with that Board in waging war on infectious and communicable diseases.


        To preserve as far as possible the record that North Carolina may make in the war and the record of individuals from North Carolina, Historical Committees have been set to collecting data in the counties. A record is wanted of all the county activities--industrial, charitable, patriotic--in short, these committees desire to collect any data that will throw light on the activities of the State and its people during the war.

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        In response to a call that we send some North Carolina papers to the way stations in England through which our soldiers pass, the Council asked several newspapers to send copies regularly to a specified station, and the proprietors of these papers very generously agreed to do so. At the same time, requests were sent out through the papers that cheerful letters and periodicals be regularly sent to our soldiers, both in camp and abroad.


        The Council has been asked to inquire into the loyalty and fitness of many applicants for service. These investigations have always been made promptly and as thoroughly as possible.


        The women of the State have an active Auxiliary Council, of which Mrs. Eugene Reilley is President. Our Council has been deeply interested in the work of this division and warmly congratulates the women on their devotion to the needs of our soldiers and our country. The State Council makes a monthly contribution to the Women's Division, and is asking the President to send to your Excellency a separate report, embodying a record of their activities.

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        In addition to these activities that may be recorded, there have been a multitude of smaller services performed by the Council. Numerous letters of inquiry on all sorts of war questions have been answered; personal interviews have been had with large numbers of people; meetings of all sorts and at all times have been attended and participated in; letters have been written for the families of soldiers; dependent allotments have been looked after; assignments on committees have been met; conferences with various workers have been held; and a regular stream of letters sent out to our patient county chairmen. In short, the Council has felt that it was here for any and all war service, and war service includes both the army in front and the people behind. Its only regret is that meager finances have limited its activities and forbidden its doing many things that would have been helpful.

        If the Council is to do satisfactorily the diversified and important work that is confronting all such State Councils and so keep our State abreast of the others in service for the Government, for the homes of our people, and for the fighting forces, it will be necessary for the Legislature to make a liberal provision to carry forward the obligations resting on such a body.

        The Council cannot close this report without expressing our hearty appreciation of the cordial sympathy and help that your Excellency has always given us in our duties. We are

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grateful for your patience, time and able counsel.

Respectfully submitted,

D. H. HILL, Chairman.

W. S. WILSON, Secretary.

B. R. LACY, Treasurer.







W. S. LEE.