Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 April 2014
This essay examines the influence of the social purity movement on the U.S. government's campaign to protect servicemen from the temptations of drink and illicit sex during World War I. This influence had been forged in the context of U.S. imperialism in the two decades prior to American entry into the war, as purity reformers linked the sexual morality and temperance of soldiers serving in occupied territories overseas to racial purity and national character at home. War Department policymakers who were allied with the purity movement likewise understood male moral restraint and sexual self-control to underpin democratic self-governance. This linkage between civic virtue and moral virtue was especially problematic at the outset of the war, as many native-born Americans (progressive policymakers included) questioned whether all members of the ethnically and racially diverse nation had the capacity for self-government. The goals of social purity and wartime policymakers were thus aligned as the War Department launched its crusade against liquor and sexual vice within the military. Government officials required moral sobriety of servicemen in order to remake the body politic. But even as they demanded virtuous conduct from the man in uniform, they simultaneously infantilized the “soldier lad” in their effort to safeguard him.
For their comments on and criticism of earlier drafts of this essay, I would like to thank Linda Janke, Matthew Lindsay, and the anonymous reviewers of the journal—particularly reviewer one, whose insights were invaluable.
2 Daniel A. Poling, “Physically Competent and Morally Fit: A Report from an Eye-Witness at the Front,” Outlook, July 10, 1918, 416, 417. On reports of drunkenness and debauchery among U.S. servicemen stationed abroad, see, for example, “Vice and the Soldier,” Bellman, Dec. 8, 1917, 621–22; “Drink Charges Anger Americans in London,” New York Times, Jan. 10, 1918, 4; “Exaggerated Reports of the Depravity of Our Soldiers in France,” Current Opinion, Mar. 1918, 197–98; “‘They Say’: But They Lie,” Ladies' Home Journal, July 1918, 4, 76.
3 “Our Troops to Have Hot Drink Stations,” New York Times, Mar. 4, 1918, 4.
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9 Frank Parker Stockbridge, “The Cleanest Army in the World,” Delineator, Dec. 1918, 8; Bristow, Making Men Moral, 1–3; Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 57.
10 Hilton Howell Railey, “Your Boy in Camp,” Independent, Aug. 11, 1917, 220. In the Independent, see Railey, “Your Boy in Camp,” 219–21; Railey, “With the Boys in Camp,” Oct. 6, 1917, 16–17, 44–45; Railey, “Making Over Men,” Feb. 2, 1918, 176, 212. In Outlook, see Joseph H. Odell, “The New Spirit of the New Army: Democratizing the Army to Save Democracy,” Nov. 14, 1917, 414–15; Odell, “The New Spirit of the New Army: Making Democracy Safe for the Soldier,” Nov. 28, 1917, 496–97; Odell, “The New Spirit of the New Army: The Men Behind the Men Who Fight the Huns,” Dec. 12, 1917, 604–06; Odell, “The New Spirit of the New Army: The Soul of the Soldier,” Dec. 26, 1917, 679–81; Odell, “The New Spirit of the New Army: The Miracle of Democracy,” Jan. 23, 1918, 140–42.
11 Railey, “Your Boy in Camp,” 219.
12 “Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers' Camps,” New York Times (Sunday Magazine), May 20, 1917.
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15 Kramer, “Military-Sexual Complex”; Tyrell, Woman's World/Woman's Empire, 213–17; Briggs, Reproducing Empire, 46–49; Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood, 190–91. The results of the WCTU's campaigns were mixed. In the Philippines, the military stopped issuing “health certificates” to prostitutes but continued to inspect them. In Puerto Rico, officials ended regulation in favor of incarcerating all prostitutes suspected of harboring venereal disease—a policy that mirrored its approach on the mainland. Briggs, Reproducing Empire, 30, asserts that policies regulating prostitution have been “reliably instituted” in all U.S. colonial possessions.
16 Tyrell, “The Regulation of Alcohol and Other Drugs in a Colonial Context,” 539–71; Pivar, Purity and Hygiene, 204–05.
17 Kramer, “Military-Sexual Complex”; Tyrell, Woman's World/Woman's Empire, 212–19.
18 Kramer, “Military Sexual Complex”; Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood, 180–93.
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20 “Moral Prophylaxis in the Army,” Literary Digest, Sept. 15, 1917, 34; “Zones of Safety,” Survey, July 21, 1917, 350.
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22 “A Warning Cry for Our Troops on the Border,” Literary Digest, July 29, 1916, 254.
23 “Mr. Fosdick Denies Favoring Beer and Wine for United States Troops,” Union Signal, Jan. 24, 1918.
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26 Capozzola, Uncle Sam Wants You, 131–36; Clement, Love For Sale, 114–25; Pivar, Purity and Hygiene, 201–37; Odem, Deliquent Daughters, 121–27.
27 Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 52–121, provides the most comprehensive, authoritative account of the War Department's campaign against venereal disease and prostitution. For a contemporary account, Buchanan, John G., “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution,” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 9 (Feb. 1919): 520–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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29 “Making Vice and Drink Tabu among Soldiers,” Literary Digest, June 16, 1917, 1852.
30 Baker's speech was reprinted in a number of popular sources, including Allen, Edward Frank and Fosdick, Raymond B., Keeping Our Fighters Fit for War and After (New York, 1918), 206–07Google Scholar; and “Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, Speaks on War Camp Community Recreation Service,” American City 17 (Nov. 1917): 403.
31 Joseph Lee, “The Training Camp Commissions,” Survey, Oct. 6, 1917, 4; “Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers' Camps.”
32 Major-General Leonard Wood, “Heat Up the Melting Pot,” Independent, July 3, 1916, 15; “Citizen Soldiery,” Outlook, Feb. 9, 1916, 304. Wood counted among the most prominent proponents of universal military training. On the Plattsburg idea and movements for universal military training, see Clifford, John Garry, The Citizen Soldiers: The Plattsburg Training Camp Movement, 1913–1920 (Lexington, KY, 1972)Google Scholar; Finnegan, John Patrick, Against the Specter of a Dragon: The Campaign for American Military Preparedness, 1914–1917 (Westport, CT, 1974)Google Scholar; Pearlman, Michael, To Make Democracy Safe for America: Patricians and Preparedness in the Progressive Era (Urbana, IL, 1984), 128–29Google Scholar; and generally, Kennedy, David M., Over Here: The First World War and American Society (New York, 1980), 17–18.Google Scholar
33 Jacobson, Matthew Frye, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (Cambridge, MA, 1998)Google Scholar, 6; Major Granville Fortescue, “Training the New Armies of Liberty,” National Geographic Magazine, Nov.–Dec. 1917, 429. Between 1880 and 1920, 23 million immigrants—largely from southern and eastern Europe—arrived on U.S. shores. On immigrants' fitness for citizenship, see Jacobson, Whiteness, 75–83; Gerstle, Gary, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, 2001), 44–47Google Scholar, 50–54, 83–95; Slotkin, Richard, Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality (New York, 2005), 4–11Google Scholar, 72–111; Higham, John, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925, 2nd ed. (New York, 1969), 137–40.Google Scholar
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35 Barbeau and Henri, Unknown Soldiers, 38–39, 42–44; Kennedy, Over Here, 158–62; Slotkin, Lost Battalions, 237–38.
36 Odell, “Miracle of Democracy,” 142.
37 Odell, “Miracle of Democracy,” 140.
38 Quoted in “Zones of Safety,” 350.
39 Exner, “Army on the Mexican Border,” 207.
40 Harris Dickson, “An American by the Grace of God,” Ladies' Home Journal, June 1918, 88; “War's Strange Tentmates in the Camps,” Literary Digest, Nov. 17, 1917, 76; “Vice and the Soldier,” 621.
41 Donald Wilhelm, “Shoot Straight and Live Straight,” Independent, Dec. 15, 1917, 516; Fortescue, “Training the New Armies of Liberty,” 431; Allen and Fosdick, Keeping Our Fighters Fit, 160–62; “Giving the Rookies a Liberal Education,” World Outlook, Apr. 1918, 11. On Americanization during the war, see Higham, Strangers in the Land, 216; and Gerstle, American Crucible, 83–95. By contrast, Ford, Nancy Gentile, Americans All! Foreign-Born Soldiers in World War I (College Station, TX, 2001)Google Scholar, contends that Americanization campaigns during World War I provided an atmosphere in which some immigrant groups could lay claim to an “Americanness” that preserved important cultural and religious customs.
42 Allen and Fosdick, Keeping Our Fighters Fit, 158.
43 Fortescue, “Training the New Armies of Liberty,” 435.
44 Dickson, “American by the Grace of God,” 88. See also Fortescue, “Training the New Armies of Liberty,” 435; Odell, “Making Democracy Safe,” 497; Frances Fisher Byers, “Camp Upton—The Melting Pot,” World Outlook, Apr. 1918, 15; “War's Strange Tentmates in the Camps.”
45 Paul Woolman, “We Who Are Drafted,” Bellman, Oct. 27, 1917, 462; Railey, “Your Boy in Camp,” 221; Odell, “Democratizing the Army,” 415.
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47 War Department Commission on Training Camp Activities, Keeping Fit to Fight (New York, n.d.), 4; Exner, M. J. M.D., Friend or Enemy? To the Men of the Army and Navy (New York, 1916), 3–4Google Scholar; Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 62. Friend or Enemy was originally written for the YMCA's program of sex education on the Mexican border but was reprinted and distributed to soldiers during World War I at the request of the CTCA. See Exner, M. J. M.D., “Social Hygiene and the War,” Social Hygiene 5 (Apr. 1919): 280–81.Google Scholar
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50 CTCA, Keeping Fit to Fight, 8; “Camps' Tremendous Social Problems Attacked by a Protecting Legion,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 26, 1917.
52 CTCA, Keeping Fit to Fight, 5.
53 Dr. Max Exner's analysis of sexual exposure and the use of chemical prophylaxis at the Mexican border concluded that chemical treatments had proven 98.6 percent effective in preventing the transmission of venereal disease when soldiers were required to report for treatment within six hours of sexual intercourse. Exner, “Army on the Mexican Border,” 215–17; Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 111, 114.
54 CTCA, Keeping Fit to Fight, 5; Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 115.
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56 Spingarn, “War and Venereal Disease among Negroes,” 336. On the unequal treatment of black soldiers more generally, see Barbeau and Henri, Unknown Soldiers; Bristow, Making Men Moral, 137–78.
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58 Mrs. Robert E. [Emma] Speer, “Boy in Camp and the Girl in Town,” Ladies' Home Journal, Sept. 1917, 33.
59 See, for example, Railey, “Your Boy in Camp”; Dickson, “American by the Grace of God”; Poling, “Physically Competent and Morally Fit”; William C. Gorgas, “Is My Boy Really Healthy in Camp?” Ladies' Home Journal, Oct. 1918, 27; Stockbridge, “Cleanest Army in the World.”
60 Allen and Fosdick, Keeping Our Fighters Fit, 127–28; Arthur E. Whitney, “The Ally of the Kaiser—The Foe of America,” Union Signal, July 4–11–18, 1918, 9; “Wartime Service of the Women's Christian Temperance Union,” Union Signal, Aug. 29, 1918, 4; Odem, Delinquent Daughters, 123–24. See also “Hostess Houses: Oases in the Desert of Army Discipline,” Independent, Mar. 16, 1918, 453; “Official Chaperon Boon to Soldiers,” Washington Post, Feb. 13, 1921.
61 Baker quoted in Snow, “Social Hygiene and the War,” 433; Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood, 118–22. On servicemen as adolescents, see “Moral Prophylaxis in the Army,” 34; “Cleaning Up the Camp Cities,” Survey, June 23, 1917, 273; W. T. Walsh, “Keeping the Soldier Fit,” Illustrated World, July 1917, 806.
63 Railey, “Your Boy in Camp,” 219; “Making Vice Unattractive to Soldiers,” Current Opinion, July 1917, 41; Speer, “Boy in Camp and the Girl in Town,” 33.
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65 Quoted in Bristow, Making Men Moral, 204.
66 “An American Editor's Indictment” Times (London), Sept. 24, 1918; “London Street Women: An American Editor's Reply,” Times (London), Sept. 25, 1918; Grayzel, Women's Identities at War, 136–39.
67 “Soldiers Want No Chaperons,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 3, 1917; “Soldiers' Morals,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 4, 1917.
68 “Camps' Tremendous Social Problems Attacked”; Mrs. Henry [Belle] Moskowitz, “To Guard Our Soldiers and Our Heedless Girls,” Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 19, 1917, 10 J; William Frederick Bigelow, “We Don't Believe It,” Good Housekeeping, Jan. 1918, 4; Edward Bok, “The Girl and the Man in Uniform,” Ladies' Home Journal, Jan. 1918, 26; “Drink Charges Anger Americans in London.”
69 Odem, Delinquent Daughters, 121–27; Bristow, Making Men Moral, 123–25; Brandt, No Magic Bullet, 80–86.
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