One of the frequently overlooked aspects of American involvement in World War I, is the massive shipments of food from the United States to the Allies that kept them from experiencing the type of dearth of food that afflicted Germany in the latter years of the War. Behind the success of this effort was one of the greatest geniuses of organization in American history, future president Herbert Hoover. Since the onset of the War he had organized food relief for occupied Belgium, and is still honored there, for his central role in preventing mass famine in that war devastated country, where the German conquerors had little concern of whether the Belgian civilians had food to eat. Hoover performed similar miracles of humanitarian relief in occupied France.
I his Executive Order of August 14, 1917 President Wilson established the Food Administration Grain Corporation with Herbert Hoover on the Board. This was part of the United States Food Admninistration which Wilson appointed Hoover to lead. Future posts will explore Hoover’s actions in charge of this organization. Here is the text of the Executive Order of August 14, 1917:
Whereas, under and by virtue of an act of Congress entitled “An act to provide for the national security and defense by encouraging the production, conserving the supply and controlling the distribution of food products and fuel” approved August 10, 1917, it is provided among other things as follows:
That, by reason of the existence of a state of war, it is essential to the national security and defense, for the successful prosecution of the war, and for the support and maintenance of the Army and Navy, to assure an adequate supply and equitable distribution, and to facilitate the movement, of foods, feeds, fuel, including fuel oil and natural gas, fertilizer and fertilizer ingredients, tools, utensils, implements, machinery and equipment required for the actual production of foods, feeds, and fuel hereafter in this act called necessaries, to prevent, locally or generally, scarcity, monopolization, hoarding, injurious speculation, manipulation, and private controls, affecting such supply, distribution, and movement, and to establish and maintain governmental control of such necessaries during the war. For such purposes the instrumentalities, means, methods, powers, authorities, duties, obligations, and prohibitions hereinafter set forth are created, established, conferred, and prescribed. The President is authorized to make such regulations and to issue such orders as are essential effectively to carry out the provisions of this act.
That in carrying out the purposes of this act the President is authorized to create and use any agency or agencies.
That the President is authorized from time to time to purchase, to store, to provide storage facilities for and to sell for cash at reasonable prices, wheat, flour, meal, beans, and potatoes.
And whereas, in order to enable the United States Food Administration acting under the direction of the President to efficiently exercise the authority granted by said act, and to purchase, store, provide storage facilities for and to sell for cash at reasonable prices the commodities above named, and to enable said United States Food Administration to purchase and sell said commodities in the manner and by methods customarily followed in the trade, it is expedient and necessary that a corporation should be organized, all the stock of which, except the number of shares necessary to qualify directors or incorporators, shall be subscribed for, purchased, and owned by the United States.
Now, therefore, under and by virtue of the power conferred upon me by the above-entitled act as hereinbefore set forth, it is hereby ordered that an agency, to wit, a corporation, under the laws of Delaware, be created, said corporation to be named Food Administration Grain Corporation.
That the governing body of said corporation shall consist of a board of directors composed of seven members.
That the following persons, having been invited and given their consent to serve, shall be named as four of said directors, to wit:
Herbert Hoover, of Washington, D. C.
Julius H. Barnes, of Duluth, Minn.
Gates W. McGarrah, of New York, N. Y.
Frank G. Crowell, of Kansas City, Mo.
The remaining three shall be named by the incorporators and be subject to change by and with the approval of the President.
The office and principal place of business of said corporation outside of the State of Delaware shall be at the city of New York, and branch offices shall be established at such places within the United States as may be selected and determined by the United States Food Administrator, by and with the consent of the President.
That the capital stock of such corporation shall consist of 500,000 shares of the par value of $100 each.
That the United States shall purchase from time to time at par so much of said capital stock as may be deemed necessary to supply the necessary capital to enable said corporation to carry on its business and none of said capital stock shall be sold to any person other than the United States and to the individual directors or incorporators, for the purpose of qualifying as such directors or incorporators, such qualifying shares to be held by said directors or incorporators in trust for the use and benefit of the United States.
The United States Food Administrator is hereby directed to cause said corporation to be formed, with the powers contained in the articles or certificate of incorporation, and in the by-laws requisite and necessary to define the methods by which said corporation shall conduct its business which have been approved by the President.
All officers of said corporation shall be selected with the consent and approval of the President.
The United States Food Administrator is hereby authorized and directed to subscribe for and purchase all of said capital stock in the name of and for the use and benefit of the United States and as purchased to pay for the same out of the appropriation of $150,000,000 authorized by section 19 of the act of Congress hereinbefore entitled.
Done in the District of Columbia this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventeen and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-second.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
August 14, 1917.