Government Organization in War Time and After: A Survey of the Federal Civil Agencies Created for the Prosecution of the War

By William Franklin Willoughby | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

When I laid down the proof sheets of Mr. Willoughby's survey of our war-time administrative organization, I had, mingled with more agreeable emotions, that lost feeling which comes from a half-remembered quotation.

Someone, somewhere, in reference to a wholly different matter, had put in a sentence or so the impression of the picture. Finally I found the sentences in Dr. E. E. Slosson's Great American Universities. It was a comment upon the organization of one of our educational institutions and reads as follows:

It is like the British Constitution; it ought not to work, but it does. It is a complex congeries of provinces, allies, crown colonies, protectorates, residencies, and native states. If a herald with tabard and trumpet were to call out all of the president's official positions, the list would sound like the heralding of a Holy Roman Emperor.

This, it seems to me, gives a pretty fair sketch of the whole vista. For our war work we created councils and boards, commissions and corporations, administrations and gentlemen's agreements, machinery for commandeering and for conciliation. The reference has the further merit of indicating the range and variety of the responsibilities of the President of the United States during the past two years.

The first days of the war were ones of whirling confusion, colored by glowing forecasts. Then followed months of experimentation by trial and error, of hope deferred by long delays, of well meant but none the less embarrassing internal rivalries, of sudden spurts like that which followed the organization of the War Industries Board. Later came the days of the autumn of 1918, when the whole great machine was throbbing rhythmic-

-xv-

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