3711 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
The most pressing need of all was for
merchant ships. Fortunately there were
in ports of the United States more than
ninety German merchant vessels of a total
tonnage of over six hundred thousand tons,
and these vessels, together with a few interned warships, were seized. The machinery of nearly all the ships had been
badly damaged by their crews, who supposed that thereby they had put the ships
out of commission for many months. But
by skillful use of the new method of electric welding, American mechanics put the
ships in working order in an astonishingly short time. Most of the vessels were
rechristened. Thus the Vaterland, the biggest ship afloat, became the Leviathan,
while others were named after Schurz,
Steuben, Sigel, and other Germans who had
played noble parts in American history.
Subsequently these German ships carried
many hundreds of thousands of men to
France. A few of them were torpedoed,
but undoubtedly it was a melancholy task
for the Germans to sink what had formerly been their own boats!
It early became clear that America could
render much help by furnishing larger quantities of food to the Allies.
The cry of, "Food will win the war!"
was raised. Like most other slogans
this cry was not literally true, but food
could undoubtedly help to win the war,
and without it the war would be lost.
The need of the Allies was very great,
and at the time the United States entered
the war the whole world's food reserve
was very low. Even in the United States
the reserve stock of wheat was said to be
lower than at any other time our history.
The food campaign took two chief
forms: conservation and increased production. Congress appropriated large sums
to aid in both these objects. The campaign for increased production was carried
on with remarkable energy and resourcefulness. Farmers were encouraged to produce more grain and vegetables and to