Council of National Defense

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Council of National Defense (CND) was an executive branch committee charged with the duty of inventorying the nation's resources and reporting its findings and recommendations to the president during World War I (19141918). CND was required to appoint a seven-member advisory commission to carry out its functions. Later known as the National Defense Advisory Commission, this federal body was composed of cabinet members, industry executives, and labor leaders. They were asked to apply their specialized knowledge in mobilizing the military, governmental, commercial, and civilian sectors into a cooperative group aimed at bolstering the Allied cause through the exchange of information and materials. CND was established by the National Defense Act of 1916 during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson (18561924). Critics complained that CND lacked a clear mandate and was devoid of formal authority. Wilson, however, relied on CND in deciding how to allocate fairly scarce and valuable resources between the civilian and military production sectors. CND was briefly revived by President Franklin Roosevelt (18821945) in 1940 before it was replaced by the Office of Production Management in 1941, as the U.S. prepared to enter World War II (19391945).

See also: World War I

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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.

WayneGrover/c. w.

See alsoPreparedness ; World War I ; World War I, Economic Mobilization for .

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