COUNCIL OF NATIONAL DEFENCE, U.S., a peace time advisory body, "established for the co-ordination of industries and resources, for the national security and welfare, and the creation of relations which will render possible in time of need the immediate concentration and utilization of the resources of the nation." Although a Council of National Defence was recommended to the House by the General Staff of the Army as early as 1910, no definite action resulted until six years later, when the Council was created under the Army Appropriation Act of Aug. 29, 1916 (39 Stat. 619). This Act provided for a Council with a membership of seven, composed of the secretaries of War, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Labour, and the appointment of an advisory committee of seven to the council, each of whom should be a specialist in "some industry, public utility, or development of some natural resource or otherwise specifically qualified for the duties." That the council was in tended as a peace-time advisory body is evidenced by the provision that not more than half of the general staff should be in Washing ton at one time and that the appropriation for its activities was limited to $200,000. The Council met for the first time on Dec. 7, 1916, and soon thereafter appointed an advisory committee on transportation and communication ; raw materials, minerals and metals; munitions, manufacturing and industrial relations; sup plies ; engineering and education ; labour ; medicine and surgery.
Although hampered by lack of funds and executive powers, and presumably undertaking a peace-time explorative and experi mental task, it had achieved a quite definite and comprehensive programme for the nation's defence by April 6, 1917, the date of the official declaration of war with Germany. It then became, in effect, a war emergency cabinet directing the intensive and exten sive organization and mobilization of the nation's resources. From its committees and subordinate bodies emerged the War Industries Board, the War Labor, Food and Fuel Administrations, the Air craft Production Board, and other war-time bureaux, to which Congress granted executive powers explicitly denied to the Council of National Defence. Building up a field machinery of State, county, community and municipal councils of defence throughout the United States, the council became the medium through which the war needs and measures of the National Government were made known to the people, and the varying moods and reactions of the different sections of the country were registered in Wash ington. The appointment of a Woman's Committee of the Council of National Defence on April 2I, 1917, "to co-ordinate the woman's preparedness movement" resulted in a nation-wide organ ization of State and local units of women for war work. After the signing of the Armistice, the council, through its field machinery, took up the problems of readjustment, and after 1920 was engaged in the development of a permanent peace-time procedure and in research on national problems.