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August 14, 1917: Food Administration Grain Corporation



 

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.

WOODROW WILSON
THE WHITE HOUSE,
August 14, 1917.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

7 Comments

  1. Thank you for the post with video. Hoover and the American relief to Belgium were and may still be overlooked in text books thanks to historians coverage of the Great Depression – Hoover bad, FDR good. The video referred to America (Americans) as almoners, quaint but apt as we are a very generous nation then and now. Many NGOs for famine relief can be traced back to Hoover’s (pre and post presidency) worldwide efforts to alleviate or prevent hunger.
    The American Catholic posts on such a variety of subjects that encourages its readers to research further.

  2. Surely not the same paragon of philanthropy Hoover who threatened to withhold food aid from Hungary if its citizens supported Blessed Kaiser Karl’s attempt to assume his rightful throne as King there? That Herbert Hoover???

  3. So what??? Whether one thinks the plight of Karl and Hungary a comedy or a tragedy, the fact remains that food was used as coercion to achieve a short-sighted political end, the detrimental ramifications of which affected eastern Europe to the end of the last century.

  4. “the detrimental ramifications of which affected eastern Europe to the end of the last century.”

    Charles had little support either internally or externally to take back the throne of Hungary. Any sort of attempt by the US to cut off food aid for Hungary would have been a very minor factor indeed. The time of the Hapsburgs was brought to an end by WWI, and even if Charles had managed to become King of Hungary I think it would have made very little difference in how the history of Eastern Europe would have played out over the next quarter of a century. Nationalism and ideologies were the major factors in the last century and the Hapsburgs monarchy had no role to play in that age.

  5. and even if Charles had managed to become King of Hungary I think it would have made very little difference in how the history of Eastern Europe would have played out over the next quarter of a century.
    The east European states had internal disorders of varying degrees of severity. Given the type of disorder involved, it’s difficult to understand how cobbling a selection of them together in a dynasitc assemblage would have been prophylactic. It’s conceivable, I suppose, that Charles as King of Hungary could have put the brakes on some of the disagreeable features of public policy in Hungary (the escalating official antagonism to the Jewish minority). However, eastern Europe’s most horrendous problems were derived from international relations and the motor of what tormented them was located abroad. I’m not getting what is posited to be the prophylaxis of that other than maintenance of the Hapsburg Monarchy in toto, and that wasn’t an option when the restoration of Charles in Hungary was attempted. (Charles was a good man. It’s a pity he was not on in a position of influence after 1918).

  6. Have had some troubles trying to post here, so in my defense to my having misspoken about the ramifications affecting Hungary, my original post just disappeared, as did my post that was repeated in that “WWI in Six…” where my attempt to just remember what I posted was altered by memories of that other discussion about Blessed Karl. I meant to say that Hungary would be affected till the end of the second war. Obviously, after the Russians took over, all would be changed regardless of what had transpired. Art’s prose communicated what I was getting at much better than I mine. I should just have stuck to the food as coercion theme….

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