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Council of National Defense

US History Encyclopedia:

Council of National Defense

Council of National Defense was six cabinet members and an unpaid civilian advisory committee, created by Congress on 29 August 1916, to investigate the concentration and utilization of national resources in wartime. On paper it thus became America's first decisive step toward becoming a nation-in-arms. Actually, organization was not completed until March 1917, and lack of appropriations after 1920 limited its experience to the war period itself. As the parent body of the War Industries Board it enjoyed early influence, but it gradually lost ground to more authoritative agencies. Its major importance was as an instrument for the mobilization of civilian forces.


Leuchtenburg, William E. The Perils of Prosperity, 1914–32. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.

—Wayne Grover/C. W.

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