The Arkansas State Council of Defense, 1917-1919



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During World War I the Arkansas State Council of Defense coordinated war mobilization in the state. Governor Charles Hillman Brough created the Council in May, 1917, and it became part of a network of state councils led by the Council of National Defense. The Arkansas Council organized seventy-five county councils and numerous community councils. Several prominent Arkansans voluntarily served on the State Council with Governor Brough giving the body general direction. Republican Wallace Townsend provided day-to-day leadership as director and worked closely with the chairman, Adjutant General Lloyd England. A State Council member usually chaired the major war agencies such as the food and fuel administrations; therefore the Arkansas Council remained constantly informed concerning statewide war preparations. Reflecting their middle-class, business values, the Council members promoted morality campaigns and sometimes experimented with a kind of social control. The Council also operated as an economic coordinating board by encouraging conservation, regulating fund raising, and occasionally exercising economic controls. Military authorities received Council help during the draft registrations, and the members helped suppress anti-war feeling. No study of Arkansas during the war would be complete without mentioning the significant role of the State Council of Defense. This study surveys the major activities of the Arkansas State Council of Defense, analyzes to some degree the motivations of its members, and presents a summary of Arkansas' economic and social mobilization during World War I.



History, Arkansas, World War, 1914-1918