Page 3711

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