Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of History

Committee Chair

Kyle G. Volk

Commitee Members

Jody Pavilack, Jeffrey Wiltse, Wade Davies, Greg Hall


Council of National Defense, Defense Council System, Industrial Workers of the World, Preparedness, Two-Party System, World War I


University of Montana


“Making a Science of Cooperation”: Labor, Business, Government, and the Defense Council System in the Wartime American West, 1916-1921” examines the socioeconomic and political transformations that occurred in the American West as a result of homefront mobilization for World War I. While those transformations happened at the national level as well, they were the most impactful in and inherently informed by the political and socioeconomic developments occurring in the western states at the time.

The vehicle in which those transformations were delivered was the Defense Council System (DCS), a unique federal mobilization program that enlisted the help of the nation’s state and county governments to mobilize their populations for the Great War. The most significant aspect of the process was seen in the amalgamation of the public and private sectors, whose wartime cooperation blurred the lines between the duties of government and those of business. The private sector participants appointed to lead the DCS by the Wilson Administration, including some of the nation’s most powerful and influential corporate executives and leaders of organized labor, worked together in the name of patriotic coordination and cooperation for the purpose of mobilization. Ironically enough, it was the inclusion of business associations and labor organizations who, in working together along with the government to create a practical and expeditious manner of homefront mobilization, ushered in the rise of the administrative state in American governance in the decades following World War I.



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