Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

18 May 2010

World War I as Fulfillment: Power and the Intellectuals - II

II. Pietism and Prohibition

One of the few important omissions in Professor Higgs's book is the crucial role of postmillennial pietist Protestantism in the drive toward statism in the United States. Dominant in the "Yankee" areas of the North from the 1830s on, the aggressive "evangelical" form of pietism conquered Southern Protestantism by the 1890s and played a crucial role in progressivism after the turn of the century and through World War I. Evangelical pietism held that requisite to any man's salvation is that he do his best to see to it that everyone else is saved, and doing one's best inevitably meant that the State must become a crucial instrument in maximizing people's chances for salvation. In particular, the State plays a pivotal role in stamping out sin, and in "making America holy."

To the pietists, sin was very broadly defined as any force that might cloud men's minds so that they could not exercise their theological free will to achieve salvation. Of particular importance were slavery (until the Civil War), Demon Rum, and the Roman Catholic Church, headed by the Antichrist in Rome. For decades after the Civil War, "rebellion" took the place of slavery in the pietist charges against their great political enemy, the Democratic party.[7] Then in 1896, with the evangelical conversion of Southern Protestantism and the admission to the Union of the sparsely populated and pietist Mountain states, William Jennings Bryan was able to put together a coalition that transformed the Democrats into a pietist party and ended forever that party's once proud role as the champion of "liturgical" (Catholic and High German Lutheran) Christianity and of personal liberty and laissez faire.[8][9] 

The pietists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were all postmillennialist: They believed that the Second Advent of Christ will occur only after the millennium – a thousand years of the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth – has been brought about by human effort. Postmillennialists have therefore tended to be statists, with the State becoming an important instrument of stamping out sin and Christianizing the social order so as to speed Jesus' return.[10]

Professor Timberlake neatly sums up this politico-religious conflict:

Unlike those extremist and apocalyptic sects that rejected and withdrew from the world as hopelessly corrupt, and unlike the more conservative churches, such as the Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, and Lutheran, that tended to assume a more relaxed attitude toward the influence of religion in culture, evangelical Protestantism sought to overcome the corruption of the world in a dynamic manner, not only by converting men to belief in Christ but also by Christianizing the social order through the power and force of law. According to this view, the Christian's duty was to use the secular power of the state to transform culture so that the community of the faithful might be kept pure and the work of saving the unregenerate might be made easier. Thus the function of law was not simply to restrain evil but to educate and uplift.[11]

Both prohibition and progressive reform were pietistic, and as both movements expanded after 1900 they became increasingly intertwined. The Prohibition Party, once confined – at least in its platform – to a single issue, became increasingly and frankly progressive after 1904. The Anti-Saloon League, the major vehicle for prohibitionist agitation after 1900, was also markedly devoted to progressive reform. Thus at the League's annual convention in 1905, Rev. Howard H. Russell rejoiced in the growing movement for progressive reform and particularly hailed Theodore Roosevelt, as that "leader of heroic mould, of absolute honesty of character and purity of life, that foremost man of this world…."[12] At the Anti-Saloon League's convention of 1909, Rev. Purley A. Baker lauded the labor union movement as a holy crusade for justice and a square deal. The League's 1915 convention, which attracted 10,000 people, was noted for the same blend of statism, social service, and combative Christianity that had marked the national convention of the Progressive Party in 1912.[13] And at the League's June 1916 convention, Bishop Luther B. Wilson stated, without contradiction, that everyone present would undoubtedly hail the progressive reforms then being proposed.

During the Progressive years, the Social Gospel became part of the mainstream of pietist Protestantism. Most of the evangelical churches created commissions on social service to promulgate the Social Gospel, and virtually all of the denominations adopted the Social Creed drawn up in 1912 by the Commission of the Church and Social Service of the Federal Council of Churches. The creed called for the abolition of child labor, the regulation of female labor, the right of labor to organize (i.e., compulsory collective bargaining), the elimination of poverty, and an "equitable" division of the national product. And right up there as a matter of social concern was the liquor problem. The creed maintained that liquor was a grave hindrance toward the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, and it advocated the "protection of the individual and society from the social, economic, and moral waste of the liquor traffic.[14]

The Social Gospel leaders were fervent advocates of statism and of prohibition. These included Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch and Rev. Charles Stelzle, whose tract Why Prohibition! (1918) was distributed, after the United States' entry into World War I, by the Commission on Temperance of the Federal Council of Churches to labor leaders, members of Congress, and important government officials. A particularly important Social Gospel leader was Rev. Josiah Strong, whose monthly journal, The Gospel of the Kingdom, was published by Strong's American Institute of Social Service. In an article supporting prohibition in the July 1914 issue, The Gospel of the Kingdom hailed the progressive spirit that was at last putting an end to "personal liberty":

"Personal Liberty" is at last an uncrowned, dethroned king, with no one to do him reverence. The social consciousness is so far developed. and is becoming so autocratic, that institutions and governments must give heed to its mandate and share their life accordingly. We are no longer frightened by that ancient bogy – "paternalism in government." We affirm boldly, it is the business of government to be just that – Paternal. Nothing human can be foreign to a true government.[15]

As true crusaders, the pietists were not content to stop with the stamping out of sin in the United States alone. If American pietism was convinced that Americans were God's chosen people, destined to establish a Kingdom of God within the United States, surely the pietists' religious and moral duty could not stop there. In a sense, the world was America's oyster. As Professor Timberlake put it, once the Kingdom of God was in the course of being established in the United States, "it was therefore America's mission to spread these ideals and institutions abroad so that the Kingdom could be established throughout the world. American Protestants were accordingly not content merely to work for the kingdom of God in America, but felt compelled to assist in the reformation of the rest of the world also."[16]

American entry into World War I provided the fulfillment of prohibitionist dreams. In the first place, all food production was placed under the control of Herbert Hoover, Food Administration czar. But if the US government was to control and allocate food resources, shall it permit the precious scarce supply of grain to be siphoned off into the "waste," if not the sin, of the manufacture of liquor? Even though less than two percent of American cereal production went into the manufacture of alcohol, think of the starving children of the world who might otherwise be fed. As the progressive weekly The Independent demagogically phrased it. "Shall the many have food, or the few have drink?" For the ostensible purpose of "conserving" grain, Congress wrote an amendment into the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act of August 10, 1917, that absolutely prohibited the use of foodstuffs, hence grain, in the production of alcohol. Congress would have added a prohibition on the manufacture of wine or beer, but President Wilson persuaded the Anti-Saloon League that he could accomplish the same goal more slowly and thereby avoid a delaying filibuster by the wets in Congress. However, Herbert Hoover, a progressive and a prohibitionist, persuaded Wilson to issue an order, on December 8, both greatly reducing the alcoholic content of beer and limiting the amount of foodstuffs that could be used in its manufacture.[17]

The prohibitionists were able to use the Lever Act and war patriotism to good effect. Thus, Mrs. W. E. Lindsey, wife of the governor of New Mexico, delivered a speech in November 1917 that noted the Lever Act, and declared:

Aside from the long list of awful tragedies following in the wake of the liquor traffic, the economic waste is too great to be tolerated at this time. With so many people of the allied nations near to the door of starvation, it would be criminal ingratitude for us to continue the manufacture of whiskey.[18]

Another rationale for prohibition during the war was the alleged necessity to protect American soldiers from the dangers of alcohol to their health, their morals, and their immortal souls. As a result, in the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917, Congress provided that dry zones must be established around every army base, and it was made illegal to sell or even to give liquor to any member of the military establishment within those zones, even in one's private home. Any inebriated servicemen were subject to courts-martial.

But the most severe thrust toward national prohibition was the Anti-Saloon League's proposed eighteenth constitutional amendment, outlawing the manufacture, sale, transportation, import or export of all intoxicating liquors. It was passed by Congress and submitted to the states at the end of December 1917. Wet arguments that prohibition would prove unenforceable were met with the usual dry appeal to high principle: Should laws against murder and robbery be repealed simply because they cannot be completely enforced? And arguments that private property would be unjustly confiscated were also brushed aside with the contention that property injurious to the health, morals, and safety of the people had always been subject to confiscation without compensation.

When the Lever Act made a distinction between hard liquor (forbidden) and beer and wine (limited), the brewing industry tried to save their skins by cutting themselves loose from the taint of distilled spirits. "The true relationship with beer," insisted the United States Brewers Association, "is with light wines and soft drinks-not with hard liquors." The brewers affirmed their desire to "sever, once for all, the shackles that bound our wholesome productions to ardent spirits." But this craven attitude would do the brewers no good. After all, one of the major objectives of the drys was to smash the brewers, once and for all, they whose product was the very embodiment of the drinking habits of the hated German-American masses, both Catholic and Lutheran, liturgicals and beer drinkers all. German-Americans were now fair game. Were they not all agents of the satanic Kaiser, bent on conquering the world? Were they not conscious agents of the dreaded Hun Kultur, out to destroy American civilization? And were not most brewers German?

And so the Anti-Saloon League thundered that "German brewers in this country have rendered thousands of men inefficient and are thus crippling the Republic in its war on Prussian militarism." Apparently, the Anti-Saloon League took no heed of the work of German brewers in Germany, who were presumably performing the estimable service of rendering "Prussian militarism" helpless. The brewers were accused of being pro-German, and of subsidizing the press (apparently it was all right to be pro-English or to subsidize the press if one were not a brewer). The acme of the accusations came from one prohibitionist: "We have German enemies," he warned, "in this country too. And the worst of all our German enemies, the most treacherous, the most menacing are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller."[19]

In this sort of atmosphere, the brewers didn't have a chance, and the Eighteenth Amendment went to the states, outlawing all forms of liquor. Since twenty-seven states had already outlawed liquor, this meant that only nine more were needed to ratify this remarkable amendment, which directly involved the federal constitution in what had always been, at most, a matter of police power of the states. The thirty-sixth state ratified the Eighteenth Amendment on January 16, 1919, and by the end of February all but three states (New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) had made liquor unconstitutional as well as illegal. Technically, the amendment went into force the following January, but Congress speeded matters up by passing the War Prohibition Act of November 11, 1918, which banned the manufacture of beer and wine after the following May and outlawed the sale of all intoxicating beverages after June 30, 1919, a ban to continue in effect until the end of demobilization. Thus total national prohibition really began on July 1, 1919, with the Eighteenth Amendment taking over six months later. The constitutional amendment needed a congressional enforcing act, which Congress supplied with the Volstead (or National Prohibition) Act, passed over Wilson's veto at the end of October 1919.

With the battle against Demon Rum won at home, the restless advocates of pietist prohibitionism looked for new lands to conquer. Today America, tomorrow the world. In June 1919 the triumphant Anti-Saloon League called an international prohibition conference in Washington and created a World League Against Alcoholism. World prohibition, after all, was needed to finish the job of making the world safe for democracy. The prohibitionists' goals were fervently expressed by Rev. A.C. Bane at the Anti-Saloon League's 1917 convention, when victory in America was already in sight. To a wildly cheering throng, Bane thundered:

America will "go over the top" in humanity's greatest battle [against liquor] and plant the victorious white standard of Prohibition upon the nation's loftiest eminence. Then catching sight of the beckoning hand of our sister nations across the sea, struggling with the same age-long foe, we will go forth with the spirit of the missionary and the crusader to help drive the demon of drink from all civilization. With America leading the way, with faith in Omnipotent God, and bearing with patriotic hands our stainless flag, the emblem of civic purity, we will soon bestow upon mankind the priceless gift of World Prohibition.[20]

Fortunately, the prohibitionists found the reluctant world a tougher nut to crack.

III. Women at War and at the Polls

Another direct outgrowth of World War I, coming in tandem with prohibition but lasting more permanently, was the Nineteenth Amendment, submitted by Congress in 1919 and ratified by the following year, which allowed women to vote. Women's suffrage had long been a movement directly allied with prohibition. Desperate to combat a demographic trend that seemed to be going against them, the evangelical pietists called for women's suffrage (and enacted it in many Western states). They did so because they knew that while pietist women were socially and politically active, ethnic or liturgical women tended to be culturally bound to hearth and home and therefore far less likely to vote.

Hence, women's suffrage would greatly increase pietist voting power. In 1869 the Prohibitionist Party became the first party to endorse women's suffrage, which it continued to do. The Progressive Party was equally enthusiastic about female suffrage; it was the first major national party to permit women delegates at its conventions. A leading women's suffrage organization was the Women's Christian Temperance Union, which reached an enormous membership of 300,000 by 1900. And three successive presidents of the major women's suffrage group, the National American Woman Suffrage Association – Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw – all began their activist careers as prohibitionists. Susan B. Anthony put the issue clearly:

There is an enemy of the homes of this nation and that enemy is drunkenness. Everyone connected with the gambling house, the brothel and the saloon works and votes solidly against the enfranchisement of women, and, I say, if you believe in chastity, if you believe in honesty and integrity, then take the necessary steps to put the ballot in the hands of women.[21]

For its part, the German-American Alliance of Nebraska sent out an appeal during the unsuccessful referendum in November 1914 on women suffrage. Written in German, the appeal declared, "Our German women do not want the right to vote, and since our opponents desire the right of suffrage mainly for the purpose of saddling the yoke of prohibition on our necks, we should oppose it with all our might…."[22]

America's entry into World War I provided the impetus for overcoming the substantial opposition to woman suffrage, as a corollary to the success of prohibition and as a reward for the vigorous activity by organized women in behalf of the war effort. To close the loop, much of that activity consisted in stamping out vice and alcohol as well as instilling "patriotic" education into the minds of often suspect immigrant groups.

Shortly after the US declaration of war, the Council of National Defense created an Advisory Committee on Women's Defense Work, known as the Woman's Committee. The purpose of the committee, writes a celebratory contemporary account, was "to coordinate the activities and the resources of the organized and unorganized women of the country, that their power may be immediately utilized in time of need, and to supply a new and direct channel of cooperation between women and governmental department."[23] Chairman of the Woman's Committee, working energetically and full time, was the former president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, and another leading member was the suffrage group's current chairman and an equally prominent suffragette, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt.

The Woman's Committee promptly set up organizations in cities and states across the country, and on June 19, 1917 convened a conference of over fifty national women's organizations to coordinate their efforts. It was at this conference that "the first definite task was imposed upon American women" by the indefatigable Food Czar, Herbert Hoover.[24] Hoover enlisted the cooperation of the nation's women in his ambitious campaign for controlling, restricting, and cartelizing the food industry in the name of "conservation" and elimination of "waste." Celebrating this coming together of women was one of the Woman's Committee members, the Progressive writer and muckraker Mrs. Ida M. Tarbell. Mrs. Tarbell lauded the "growing consciousness everywhere that this great enterprise for democracy which we are launching [the US entry into the war] is a national affair, and if an individual or a society is going to do its bit it must act with and under the government at Washington." "Nothing else," Mrs. Tarbell gushed, "can explain the action of the women of the country in coming together as they are doing today under one centralized direction."[25]

Mrs. Tarbell's enthusiasm might have been heightened by the fact that she was one of the directing rather than the directed. Herbert Hoover came to the women's conference with the proposal that each of the women sign and distribute a "food pledge card" on behalf of food conservation. While support for the food pledge among the public was narrower than anticipated, educational efforts to promote the pledge became the basis of the remainder of the women's conservation campaign. The Woman's Committee appointed Mrs. Tarbell as chairman of its committee on Food Administration, and she not only tirelessly organized the campaign but also wrote many letters and newspaper and magazine articles on its behalf.

In addition to food control, another important and immediate function of the Woman's Committee was to attempt to register every woman in the country for possible volunteer or paid work in support of the war effort. Every woman aged sixteen or over was asked to sign and submit a registration card with all pertinent information, including training, experience, and the sort of work desired. In that way the government would know the whereabouts and training of every woman, and government and women could then serve each other best. In many states, especially Ohio and Illinois, state governments set up schools to train the registrars. And even though the Woman's Committee kept insisting that the registration was completely voluntary, the state of Louisiana, as Ida Clarke puts it, developed a "novel and clever" idea to facilitate the program: women's registration was made compulsory.

Louisiana's Governor Ruftin G. Pleasant decreed October 17, 1917 compulsory registration day, and a host of state officials collaborated in its operation. The State Food Commission made sure that food pledges were also signed by all, and the State School Board granted a holiday on October 17 so that teachers could assist in the compulsory registration, especially in the rural districts. Six thousand women were officially commissioned by the state of Louisiana to conduct the registration, and they worked in tandem with state Food Conservation officials and parish Demonstration Agents. In the French areas of the state, the Catholic priests rendered valuable aid in personally appealing to all their female parishioners to perform their registration duties. Handbills were circulated in French, house-to-house canvasses were made, and speeches urging registration were made by women activists in movie theaters, schools, churches, and courthouses. We are informed that all responses were eager and cordial; there is no mention of any resistance. We are also advised that "even the negroes were quite alive to the situation, meeting sometimes with the white people and sometimes at the call of their own pastors."[26]

Also helping out in women's registration and food control was another, smaller, but slightly more sinister women's organization that had been launched by Congress as a sort of prewar wartime group at a large Congress for Constructive Patriotism, held in Washington, D.C. in late January 1917. This was the National League for Woman's Service (NLWS), which established a nationwide organization later overshadowed and overlapped by the larger Woman's Committee. The difference was that the NLWS was set up on quite frankly military lines. Each local working unit was called a "detachment" under a "detachment commander," district-wide and state-wide detachments met in annual "encampments," and every woman member was to wear a uniform with an organization badge and insignia. In particular, "the basis of training for all detachments is standardized, physical drill."[27]

A vital part of the Woman's Committee work was engaging in "patriotic education." The government and the Woman's Committee recognized that immigrant ethnic women were most in need of such vital instruction, and so it set up a committee on education, headed by the energetic Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt. Mrs. Catt stated the problem well to the Woman's Committee: Millions of people in the United States were unclear on why we were at war, and why, as Ida Clarke paraphrases Mrs. Can, there is "the imperative necessity of winning the war if future generations were to be protected from the menace of an unscrupulous militarism."[28] Presumably US militarism, being "scrupulous," posed no problem.

A vital part of the Woman's Committee work was engaging in "patriotic education." The government and the Woman's Committee recognized that immigrant ethnic women were most in need of such vital instruction, and so it set up a committee on education, headed by the energetic Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt. Mrs. Catt stated the problem well to the Woman's Committee: Millions of people in the United States were unclear on why we were at war, and why, as Ida Clarke paraphrases Mrs. Can, there is "the imperative necessity of winning the war if future generations were to be protected from the menace of an unscrupulous militarism."[28] Presumably US militarism, being "scrupulous," posed no problem.

Apathy and ignorance abounded, Mrs. Catt went on, and she proposed to mobilize twenty million American women, the "greatest sentiment makers of any community," to begin a "vast educational movement" to get the women "fervently enlisted to push the war to victory as rapidly as possible." As Mrs. Catt continued, however, the clarity of war aims she called for really amounted to pointing out that we were in the war "whether the nation likes it or does not like it," and that therefore the "sacrifices" needed to win the war "willingly or unwillingly must be made." These statements are reminiscent of arguments supporting recent military actions by Ronald Reagan ("He had to do what he had to do"). In the end, Mrs. Catt could come up with only one reasoned argument for the war, apart from this alleged necessity, that it must be won to make it "the war to end war."[29]

The "patriotic education" campaign of the organized women was largely to "Americanize" immigrant women by energetically persuading them (a) to become naturalized American citizens and (b) to learn "Mother English." In the campaign, dubbed "America First," national unity was promoted through getting immigrants to learn English and trying to get female immigrants into afternoon or evening English classes. The organized patriot women were also worried about preserving the family structure of the immigrants. If the children learn English and their parents remain ignorant, children will scorn their elders, "parental discipline and control are dissipated, and the whole family fabric becomes weakened. Thus one of the great conservative forces in the community becomes inoperative." To preserve "maternal control of the young," then, "Americanization of the foreign women through language becomes imperative." In Erie, Pennsylvania, women's clubs appointed "Block Matrons," whose job it was to get to know the foreign families of the neighborhood and to back up school authorities in urging the immigrants to learn English, and who, in the rather naïve words of Ida Clarke, "become neighbors, friends, and veritable mother confessors to the foreign women of the block." One would like to have heard some comments from recipients of the attentions of the Block Matrons.

All in all, as a result of the Americanization campaign, Ida Clarke concludes, "the organized women of this country can play an important part in making ours a country with a common language, a common purpose, a common set of ideals – a unified America."[30]

Neither did the government and its organized women neglect progressive economic reforms. At the organizing June 1917 conference of the Woman's Committee, Mrs. Carrie Catt emphasized that the greatest problem of the war was to assure that women receive "equal pay for equal work." The conference suggested that vigilance committees be established to guard against the violation of "ethical laws" governing labor and also that all laws restricting ("protecting") the labor of women and children be rigorously enforced. Apparently, there were some values to which maximizing production for the war effort had to take second place.

Mrs. Margaret Dreier Robins, president of the National Women's Trade Union's League, hailed the fact that the Woman's Committee was organizing committees in every state to protect minimum standards for women and children's labor in industry and demanded minimum wages and shorter hours for women. Mrs. Robins particularly warned that "not only are unorganized women workers in vast numbers used as underbidders in the labor market for lowering industrial standards, but they are related to those groups in industrial centers of our country that are least Americanized and most alien to our institutions and ideals." And so "Americanization" and cartelization of female labor went hand in hand.[31][32]

IV. Saving Our Boys from Alcohol and Vice

One of organized womanhood's major contributions to the war effort was to collaborate in an attempt to save American soldiers from vice and Demon Rum. In addition to establishing rigorous dry zones around every military camp in the United States, the Selective Service Act of May 1917 also outlawed prostitution in wide zones around the military camps. To enforce these provisions, the War Department had ready at hand a Commission on Training Camp Activities, an agency soon imitated by the Department of the Navy. Both commissions were headed by a man tailor-made for the job, the progressive New York settlement-house worker, municipal political reformer, and former student and disciple of Woodrow Wilson, Raymond Blaine Fosdick.

Fosdick's background, life, and career were paradigmatic for progressive intellectuals and activists of that era. Fosdick's ancestors were Yankees from Massachusetts and Connecticut, and his great-grandfather pioneered westward in a covered wagon to become a frontier farmer in the heart of the Burned-Over District of transplanted Yankees, Buffalo, New York. Fosdick's grandfather, a pietist lay preacher born again in a Baptist revival, was a prohibitionist who married a preacher's daughter and became a lifelong public school teacher in Buffalo. Grandfather Fosdick rose to become Superintendent of Education in Buffalo and a battler for an expanded and strengthened public school system. Fosdick's immediate ancestry continued in the same vein. His father was a public school teacher in Buffalo who rose to become principal of a high school. His mother was deeply pietist and a staunch advocate of prohibition and women's suffrage. Fosdick's father was a devout pietist Protestant and a "fanatical" Republican who gave his son Raymond the middle name of his hero, the veteran Maine Republican James G. Blaine. The three Fosdick children, elder brother Harry Emerson, Raymond, and Raymond's twin sister, Edith, on emerging from this atmosphere, all forged lifetime careers of pietism and social service.

While active in New York reform administration, Fosdick made a fateful friendship. In 1910, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., like his father a pietist Baptist, was chairman of a special grand jury to investigate and to try to stamp out prostitution in New York City. For Rockefeller, the elimination of prostitution was to become an ardent and lifelong crusade. He believed that sin, such as prostitution, must be criminated, quarantined, and driven underground through rigorous suppression.

In 1911, Rockefeller began his crusade by setting up the Bureau of Social Hygiene, into which he poured $5 million in the next quarter century. Two years later he enlisted Fosdick, already a speaker at the annual dinner of Rockefeller's Baptist Bible class, to study police systems in Europe in conjunction with activities to end the great "social vice." Surveying American police after his stint in Europe at Rockefeller's behest, Fosdick was appalled that police work in the United States was not considered a "science" and that it was subject to "sordid" political influences.[33]

At that point, the new Secretary of War, the progressive former mayor of Cleveland Newton D. Baker, became disturbed at reports that areas near the army camps in Texas on the Mexican border, where troops were mobilized to combat the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, were honeycombed with saloons and prostitution. Sent by Baker on a fact-finding tour in the summer of 1916, scoffed at by tough army officers as the "Reverend," Fosdick was horrified to find saloons and brothels seemingly everywhere in the vicinity of the military camps. He reported his consternation to Baker, and, at Fosdick's suggestion, Baker cracked down on the army commanders and their lax attitude toward alcohol and vice. But Fosdick was beginning to get the glimmer of another idea. Couldn't the suppression of the bad be accompanied by a positive encouragement of the good, of wholesome recreational alternatives to sin and liquor that our boys could enjoy? When war was declared, Baker quickly appointed Fosdick to be chairman of the Commission on Training Camp Activities.

Armed with the coercive resources of the federal government and rapidly building his bureaucratic empire from merely one secretary to a staff of thousands, Raymond Fosdick set out with determination on his twofold task: stamping out alcohol and sin in and around every military camp, and filling the void for American soldiers and sailors by providing them with wholesome recreation. As head of the Law Enforcement Division of the Training Camp Commission, Fosdick Bascom Johnson, attorney for the American Social Hygiene Association.[34] Johnson was commissioned a major, and his staff of forty aggressive attorneys became second lieutenants.

Employing the argument of health and military necessity, Fosdick set up a Social Hygiene Division of his commission, which promulgated the slogan "Fit to Fight." Using a mixture of force and threats to remove federal troops from the bases if recalcitrant cities did not comply, Fosdick managed to bludgeon his way into suppressing, if not prostitution in general, then at least every major red light district in the country. In doing so, Fosdick and Baker, employing local police and the federal Military Police, far exceeded their legal authority. The law authorized the president to shut down every red light district in a five-mile zone around each military camp or base. Of the 110 red light districts shut down by military force, however, only 35 were included in the prohibited zone. Suppression of the other 75 was an illegal extension of the law. Nevertheless, Fosdick was triumphant: "Through the efforts of this Commission [on Training Camp Activities] the red light district has practically ceased to be a feature of American city life."[35] The result of this permanent destruction of the red light district, of course, was to drive prostitution onto the streets, where consumers would be deprived of the protection of either an open market or of regulation.

In some cases, the federal anti-vice crusade met considerable resistance. Secretary of Navy Josephus Daniels, a progressive from North Carolina, had to call out the marines to patrol the streets of resistant Philadelphia, and naval troops, over the strenuous objections of the mayor, were used to crush the fabled red light district of Storyville, in New Orleans, in November 1917.[36]

In its hubris, the US Army decided to extend its anti-vice crusade to foreign shores. General John J. Pershing issued an official bulletin to members of the American Expeditionary Force in France urging that "sexual continence is the plain duty of members of the A.E.F., both for the vigorous conduct of the war, and for the clean health of the American people after the war." Pershing and the American military tried to close all the French brothels in areas where American troops were located, but the move was unsuccessful because the French objected bitterly. Premier Georges Clemenceau pointed out that the result of the "total prohibition of regulated prostitution in the vicinity of American troops" was only to increase "venereal diseases among the civilian population of the neighborhood." Finally, the United States had to rest content with declaring French civilian areas off limits to the troops.[37]

The more positive part of Raymond Fosdick's task during the war was supplying the soldiers and sailors with a constructive substitute for sin and alcohol, "healthful amusements and wholesome company." As might be expected, the Woman's Committee and organized womanhood collaborated enthusiastically. They followed the injunction of Secretary of War Baker that the government "cannot allow these young men to be surrounded by a vicious and demoralizing environment, nor can we leave anything undone which will protect them from unhealthy influences and crude forms of temptation." The Woman's Committee found, however, that in the great undertaking of safeguarding the health and morals of our boys, their most challenging problem proved to be guarding the morals of their mobilized young girls. For unfortunately, "where soldiers are stationed the problem of preventing girls from being misled by the glamour and romance of war and beguiling uniforms looms large.'' Fortunately, perhaps, the Maryland Committee proposed the establishment of a "Patriotic League of Honor which will inspire girls to adopt the highest standards of womanliness and loyalty to their country."[38]

No group was more delighted with the achievements of Fosdick and his Military Training Camp Commission than the burgeoning profession of social work. Surrounded by handpicked aides from the Playground and Recreation Association and the Russell Sage Foundation, Fosdick and the others "in effect tried to create a massive settlement house around each camp. No army had ever seen anything like it before, but it was an outgrowth of the recreation and community organization movement, and a victory for those who had been arguing for the creative use of leisure time."[39] The social work profession pronounced the program an enormous success. The influential Survey magazine summed up the result as "the most stupendous piece of social work in modern times."[40]

Social workers were also exultant about prohibition. In 1917, the National Conference of Charities and Corrections (which changed its name around the same time to the National Conference of Social Work) was emboldened to drop whatever value-free pose it might have had and come out squarely for prohibition. On returning from Russia in 1917, Edward T. Devine of the Charity Organization Society of New York exclaimed that "the social revolution which followed the prohibition of vodka was more profoundly important than the political revolution which abolished autocracy." And Robert A. Woods of Boston, the Grand Old Man of the settlement house movement and a veteran advocate of prohibition, predicted in 1919 that the Eighteenth Amendment, "one of the greatest and best events in history," would reduce poverty, wipe out prostitution and crime, and liberate "vast suppressed human potentialities."[41]

Woods, president of the National Conference of Social Work during 1917–18, had long denounced alcohol as "an abominable evil." A postmillennial pietist, he believed in "Christian statesmanship" that would, in a "propaganda of the deed," Christianize the social order in a corporate, communal route to the glorification of God. Like many pietists, Woods cared not for creeds or dogmas but only for advancing Christianity in a communal way; though an active Episcopalian, his "parish" was the community at large. In his settlement work, Woods had long favored the isolation or segregation of the "unfit," in particular "the tramp, the drunkard, the pauper, the imbecile," with the settlement house as the nucleus of this reform. Woods was particularly eager to isolate and punish the drunkard and the tramp. "Inveterate drunkards" were to receive increasing levels of "punishment," with ever-lengthier jail terms. The "tramp evil" was to be gotten rid of by rounding up and jailing vagrants, who would be placed in tramp workhouses and put to forced labor.

For Woods the world war was a momentous event. It had advanced the process of "Americanization," a "great humanizing process through which all loyalties, all beliefs must be wrought together in a better order."[42] The war had wonderfully released the energies of the American people. Now, however, it was important to carry the wartime momentum into the postwar world. Lauding the war collectivist society during the spring of 1918, Robert Woods asked the crucial question, "Why should it not always be so? Why not continue in the years of peace this close, vast, wholesome organism of service, of fellowship, of constructive creative power?"[43] 

V. The New Republic Collectivists 

The New Republic magazine, founded in 1914 as the leading intellectual organ of progressivism, was a living embodiment of the burgeoning alliance between big-business interests, in particular the House of Morgan, and the growing legion of collectivist intellectuals. Founder and publisher of the New Republic was Willard W. Straight, partner of J.P. Morgan & Co., and its financier was Straight's wife, the heiress Dorothy Whitney. Major editor of the influential new weekly was the veteran collectivist and theoretician of Teddy Roosevelt's New Nationalism, Herbert David Croly. Croly's two coeditors were Walter Edward Weyl, another theoretician of the New Nationalism, and the young, ambitious former official of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, the future pundit Walter Lippmann. As Woodrow Wilson began to take America into World War I, the New Republic, though originally Rooseveltian, became an enthusiastic supporter of the war, and a virtual spokesman for the Wilson war effort, the wartime collectivist economy, and the new society molded by the war.

On the higher levels of ratiocination, unquestionably the leading progressive intellectual, before, during, and after World War I, was the champion of pragmatism, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University. Dewey wrote frequently for the New Republic in this period and was clearly its leading theoretician. A Yankee born in 1859, Dewey was, as Mencken put it, "of indestructible Vermont stock and a man of the highest bearable sobriety." John Dewey was the son of a small town Vermont grocer.[44] Although he was a pragmatist and a secular humanist most of his life, it is not as well known that Dewey, in the years before 1900, was a postmillennial pietist, seeking the gradual development of a Christianized social order and Kingdom of God on earth via the expansion of science, community, and the State. During the 1890s, Dewey, as professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan, expounded his vision of postmillennial pietism in a series of lectures before the Students' Christian Association. Dewey argued that the growth of modem science now makes it possible for man to establish the biblical idea of the Kingdom of God on earth. Once humans had broken free of the restraints of orthodox Christianity, a truly religious Kingdom of God could be realized in "the common incarnate Life, the purpose animating all men and binding them together into one harmonious whole of sympathy."[45]

Religion would thus work in tandem with science and democracy, all of which would break down the barriers between men and establish the Kingdom. After 1900 it was easy for John Dewey, along with most other postmillennial intellectuals of the period, to shift gradually but decisively from postmillennial progressive Christian statism to progressive secular statism. The path, the expansion of statism and "social control" and planning, remained the same. And even though the Christian creed dropped out of the picture, the intellectuals and activists continued to possess the same evangelical zeal for the salvation of the world that their parents and they themselves had once possessed. The world would and must still be saved through progress and statism.[46]

A pacifist while in the midst of peace, John Dewey prepared himself to lead the parade for war as America drew nearer to armed intervention in the European struggle. First, in January 1916 in the New Republic, Dewey attacked the "professional pacifist's" outright condemnation of war as a "sentimental phantasy," a confusion of means and ends.

Force, he declared, was simply "a means of getting results," and therefore would neither be lauded or condemned per se. Next, in April Dewey signed a pro-Allied manifesto, not only cheering for an Allied victory but also proclaiming that the Allies were "struggling to preserve the liberties of the world and the highest ideals of civilization." And though Dewey supported US entry into the war so that Germany could be defeated, "a hard job, but one which had to be done," he was far more interested in the wonderful changes that the war would surely bring about in the domestic American polity. In particular, war offered a golden opportunity to bring about collectivist social control in the interest of social justice. As one historian put it,

because war demanded paramount commitment to the national interest and necessitated an unprecedented degree of government planning and economic regulation in that interest, Dewey saw the prospect of permanent socialization, permanent replacement of private and possessive interest by public and social interest, both within and among nations.[47]

In an interview with the New York World a few months after US entry into the war, Dewey exulted that "this war may easily be the beginning of the end of business." For out of the needs of the war, "we are beginning to produce for use, not for sale, and the capitalist is not a capitalist [in the face of] the war." Capitalist conditions of production and sale are now under government control, and "there is no reason to believe that the old principle will ever be resumed…. Private property had already lost its sanctity …industrial democracy is on the way."[48]

In short, intelligence is at last being used to tackle social problems, and this practice is destroying the old order and creating a new social order of "democratic integrated control." Labor is acquiring more power, science is at last being socially mobilized, and massive government controls are socializing industry. These developments, Dewey proclaimed, were precisely what we are fighting for.[49]

Furthermore, John Dewey saw great possibilities opened by the war for the advent of worldwide collectivism. To Dewey, America's entrance into the war created a "plastic juncture" in the world, a world marked by a "world organization and the beginnings of a public control which crosses nationalistic boundaries and interests," and which would also "outlaw war."[50]

The editors of the New Republic took a position similar to Dewey's, except that they arrived at it even earlier. In his editorial in the magazine's first issue in November 1914, Herbert Croly cheerily prophesied that the war would stimulate America's spirit of nationalism and therefore bring it closer to democracy. At first hesitant about the collectivist war economies in Europe, the New Republic soon began to cheer and urged the United States to follow the lead of the warring European nations and socialize its economy and expand the powers of the State.

As America prepared to enter the war, the New Republic, examining war collectivism in Europe, rejoiced that "on its administrative side socialism [had] won a victory that [was] superb and compelling." True, European war collectivism was a bit grim and autocratic, but never fear, America could use the selfsame means for "democratic" goals.

The New Republic intellectuals also delighted in the "war spirit" in America, for that spirit meant "the substitution of national and social and organic forces for the more or less mechanical private forces operative in peace." The purposes of war and social reform might be a bit different, but, after all, "they are both purposes, and luckily for mankind a social organization which is efficient is as useful for the one as for the other."[51] Lucky indeed.

As America prepared to enter the war, the New Republic eagerly looked forward to imminent collectivization, sure that it would bring "immense gains in national efficiency and happiness." After war was declared, the magazine urged that the war be used as "an aggressive tool of democracy."

"Why should not the war serve," the magazine asked, "as a pretext to be used to foist innovations upon the country?" In that way, progressive intellectuals could lead the way in abolishing "the typical evils of the sprawling half-educated competitive capitalism."

Convinced that the United States would attain socialism through war, Walter Lippmann, in a public address shortly after American entry, trumpeted his apocalyptic vision of the future:

We who have gone to war to insure democracy in the world will have raised an aspiration here that will not end with the overthrow of the Prussian autocracy. We shall turn with fresh interests to our own tyrannies – to our Colorado mines, our autocratic steel industries, sweatshops, and our slums. A force is loose in America. Our own reactionaries will not assuage it. We shall know how to deal with them.[52]

Walter Lippmann, indeed, had been the foremost hawk among the New Republic intellectuals. He had pushed Croly into backing Wilson and into supporting intervention, and then had collaborated with Colonel House in pushing Wilson into entering the war. Soon Lippmann, an enthusiast for conscription, had to confront the fact that he himself, only twenty-seven years old and in fine health, was eminently eligible for the draft. Somehow, however, Lippmann failed to unite theory and praxis.

Young Felix Frankfurter, progressive Harvard Law Professor and a close associate of the New Republic editorial staff, had just been as a special assistant to Secretary of War Baker. Lippmann somehow felt that his own inestimable services could be better used planning the postwar world than battling in the trenches. And so he wrote to Frankfurter asking for a job in Baker's office. "What I want to do," he pleaded, "is to devote all my time to studying and speculating on the approaches to peace and the reaction from the peace. Do you think you can get me an exemption on such highfalutin grounds?" He then rushed to reassure Frankfurter that there was nothing "personal" in this request. After all, he explained, "the things that need to be thought out, are so big that there must be no personal element mixed up with this." Frankfurter having paved the way, Lippmann wrote to Secretary Baker. He assured Baker that he was only applying for a job and draft exemption on the pleading of others and in stern submission to the national interest. As Lippmann put it in a remarkable demonstration of cant:

I have consulted all the people whose advice I value and they urge me to apply for exemption. You can well understand that this is not a pleasant thing to do, and yet, after searching my soul as candidly as I know how, I am convinced that I can serve my bit much more effectively than as a private in the new armies.