Bernard Baruch, Park Bench Statesman

By Carter Field | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

UP UNTIL the First World War not only the peoples of the world but the army and navy officers of the various countries thought, when considering preparation for war, in terms of armies and navies. There was very little thought of industrial preparation.

Conversion of warships and steamships generally from coal to oil burners began to change this picture early in the war. It became important for the great maritime powers to consider oil fields and naval-oil storage.

Even the Leviathan was a coal burner when transporting our troops, although she had been one of the latest of the luxury liners to be built before the war, and for some time after the 1921-1922 Washington Arms Conference the United States still had a few coal-burning battleships.

It was not until 1916 that this government began to take an interest in industrial preparation. Both the army and the navy in that year undertook surveys. The problem was simplified by the fact that every industrial concern in the country that could figure out a way to do so was converting to war production. The profits made by the big steel corporations in producing munitions for the Allies were enormous, and most manufacturers were eager to get some of this business. There was little competition, the Allies wanted all they could buy and did not seem to care what they paid!

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