Page 3712

3712 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

raise more cattle and hogs; great emphasis

was laid upon the importance of good seed;

everybody was urged to cultivate a "war

garden;" canning clubs were organized;

and to a really remarkable extent the

public generally and the farmers particularly rallied to the call. For the purpose

of stimulating the production of wheat,

a minimum price of $2.20 a bushel was

fixed for No. I northern spring wheat

or its equivalent at the principal interior

markets, with a system of differentials

between zones and between different grades

and classes.

This was done under authority conferred by the Food and Fuel Control Act

of August 10, 1917. This act gave the

Government sweeping powers over the

sale and distribution of foods and fuel.

The building of merchant ships did not

proceed so rapidly. Back in September,

1916, Congress had created a Shipping

Board of five members to regulate the

rates and practices of water carriers

in foreign commerce or in interstate

commerce, on the high seas or on the

Great Lakes. America's entrance into

the war brought to this board new and

vastly important duties, among these

being the building of ships. For this

purpose the Board organized an Emergency Fleet Corporation with a capital

of $50,000,000, all subscribed by the

Government, while Congress, from time to

time, appropriated vast sums for its use.

The Shipping Board commandeered all

ship building in American yards, and a

vast program of new construction was

undertaken. The need of ships was so

vital that plans for building great numbers

of wooden ships were made. Major General George Goethals, builder of the

Panama Canal, became general manager

of the Emergency Fleet Corporation,

and the public expected ship construction

to move forward rapidly. But shipyards and

ways were lacking, the supply of skilled

workmen was limited, strikes and other labor troubles were frequent, and optimistic

forecasts issued by Chairman Denman

of the Shipping Board were not only not

realized but even the completion of the

ships commandeered was delayed. General

Goethals opposed the building of wooden

ships, and became involved in a controversy with Denman which resulted in

the retirement (August, 1917) of both men.

It was important to be constructing

merchant ships, but the war on the sea

could not be won merely by setting up

new targets for German torpedoes. The

really effective policy was to fight the

submarines. Shortly before we entered

the war, Vice-Admiral Sims was sent to

England to arrange cooperation between

our navy and those of our Allies. Sims

was a highly talented officer, who had done

a great deal to make the American navy

efficient. When still a lieutenant, he

became convinced that the marksmanship

of our naval gunners was poor and that

new methods ought to be adopted. At

this time, the navy had no scientific

system of gunnery. The targets were

stuck up on a floating barrel or fixed to a