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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Edward Filene to Woodrow Wilson, April 5, 1918. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (056.00.00)

Calling Business to the Cause

Relaxed antitrust enforcement and the blurring of the line between public and private spheres distinguished the wartime collaboration between business and government. Entities like the War Industries Board and the War Shipping Committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce, led by captains of industry, sought maximum output, even if that meant a rise in costs. The government exhorted, cajoled, and threatened industry with bad publicity in order to meet federal production goals. Both during the period of neutrality, when U.S. companies filled hosts of war orders, and during the period of U.S. belligerence, industry benefitted from this fevered war production. Between 1914 and 1918, for example, Du Pont Company stock dividends multiplied sixfold, and the Savage Arms Company recorded profits of sixty percent in 1917.