Ohio History Journal

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Admiral A. T. Mahan once described his fellow Americans as being

"aggressive, combative, and war-like", but he added, "they are the reverse

of military, being out of sympathy with military tone and feeling."1 A

neglect of the study of military history and economy in the United States

developed partly as a result of an ingrained American distaste for and

suspicion of things military. The frontier democracy in particular was

impatient with military institutions, except, of course, when there were In-

dians to shoot or new lands to acquire. The fear that liberty would perish

with the growth of military institutions was commonly expressed. For

years the Congress of the United States resisted the establishment of a

general staff on the Europeon model for fear that its development might

not only lead to war, but to a loss of freedom. These fears of military

institutions may seem a little unusual in a people with such an impressive

record for military activity. It has been pointed out that in 150 years of

history the American people have engaged in 110 separate conflicts and

about 8,600 battles.2 The extent of our military activity is attested by the

mere bulk of the papers for the War Department which take up more space

in the National Archives than those of any other department of the Gov-

ernment. Yet we have steadfastly refused to concern ourselves with the

problems of military policy, preferring to use the costly method of im-

provisation for each new military crisis.3 Up to the year 1938 there was only

one notable study made of American military problems and policy. That was

General Emory Upton's brilliant work, The Military Policy of the United

States. Though Upton was a military thinker of equal rank with the

greatest of nineteenth century Europe, this study was allowed to languish in

manuscript form for twenty-one years in the dusty files of the War De-

partment before it was "discovered" and published by Secretary Elihu

Root in 1904.4 Such evidence of public disinterest in American military

problems should be borne in mind when considering the difficulties en-

countered in the attempt to mobilize the industrial power of the United

States behind a gigantic trans-oceanic military effort in the years 1917-


The term as well as the idea of an industrial mobilization for war is

of relatively recent origin, although it has now been grafted onto the peace-

economy of the totalitarian states and has become commonplace. Such a

1 A. T. Mahan, From Sail to Steam (New York, 1907), 7.

2 W. A. Ganoe, History of the United States Army (New York, 1932), 490.

3 Commenting on American military policies Elihu Root wrote in 1880: "In the

conduct of war we have rejected the practices of European nations and with little

variation have thus far pursued the policy of China." Quoted in E. Upton, The Mili-

tary Policy of the United States (Washington, 1904), vii.

4 P. S. Michie, Life and Letters of General Emory Upton (New York, 1885,