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THE BIRTH OF TRANSNATIONAL U.S. PHILANTHROPY FROM THE SPIRIT OF WAR: ROCKEFELLER PHILANTHROPISTS IN WORLD WAR I

  • Helke Rausch (a1)
Abstract

World War I significantly impacted U.S. society and politics long before the United States officially entered into the war's frontlines in 1917. Even as historians have begun to pay closer attention to this process, they have until now largely failed to notice a particular group of colorful and highly emblematic public elite actors: charitable foundation philanthropists. With the soon-to-be globally active Rockefeller Foundation a cohort of ambitious U.S. progressives and social engineers—later ardent supporters of global science funding during the interwar years and beyond—utilized their war experiences to shape the wartime philanthropic agenda. This article focuses on the Foundation officers’ profiles and the beginnings of their more concerted engagements during World War I in order to show how, in their mindsets and tactics, Rockefeller philanthropists disregarded American neutrality. From the outbreak of the war in 1914, they mobilized themselves to the point of pleading for and entering into direct commitments at home and abroad, especially in the European war zone. With the official entry of the United States into war in early April 1917, Rockefeller officials and collaborators became openly “combat” philanthropists, resolutely assisting the moral stabilization efforts of the U.S. military and conducting support campaigns to bolster, most notably, the American alliance with France. The incubation and infancy period of Rockefeller philanthropy as a subsequently ubiquitous phenomenon of the American twentieth century is inseparable from the impact of the Great War.

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NOTES

1 “Oil in Aladdin's Lamp,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 3, 1886, 7; “Rockefeller to Make Huge Gift to All Mankind,” New York Times, Mar. 3, 1910, 1; “Gift of Millions to Last for Ages,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Mar. 4, 1910, 7; “Approves Rockefeller Bill,” New York Times, Feb. 20, 1913, 1.

2 Krige, John and Rausch, Helke (eds.), American Foundations and the Co-Production of World Order in the Twentieth Century (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012); Zunz, Olivier, Philanthropy in America: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012); Friedman, Lawrence and McGarvie, Mark (eds.), Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in American History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). A valuable insider account is Fosdick, Raymond, The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1952).

3 “The Gift of Honest Labor,” Boston Daily Globe, May 2, 1901, 6; “A Magnate's Defense of the Corporation Principle: Views of John D. Rockefeller,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 26, 1908, 6.

4 Singerman, David Roth, “Science, Commodities, and Corruption in the Gilded Age,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 15 (July 2016): 278–93.

5 Among many other votes “Sees two sides of Rockefeller,” New York Times, Feb 3, 1915, 1.

6 “J.D. Rockefeller Finances Experiments to Prevent Coal Famine,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 22, 1907, 13; Henry, Robin, “‘In Our Image, According to Our Likeness’: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Reconstructing Manhood in Post-Ludlow Colorado,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 16 (Jan. 2017): 2443.

7 For a myriad of recent contributions, see Krige and Rausch, “Introduction—Tracing the Knowledge–Power Nexus of American Philanthropy” in Krige and Rausch, American Foundations and the Co-Production of World Order in the Twentieth Century, 7–34.

8 Capozzola, Christopher et al. , “Interchange: World War I,” Journal of American History 102 (Sept. 2015): 463–99; Keene, Jennifer, “Americans Respond. Perspectives on the Global War, 1914–1917,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 40 (Apr.–June 2014): 266–86.

9 Rausch, Helke, “Akademische Vernetzung als politische Intervention in Europa. Internationalismus-Strategien US-amerikanischer Stiftungen in den 1920er Jahren,” Jahrbuch für Universitätsgeschichte 18 (2015): 165–88.

10 Dawley, Alan, Changing the World. American Progressives in War and Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003). An enthusiastic progressive voice is Lippmann, Walter, “The World Conflict in Relation to American Democracy,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 72 (July 1917): 110.

11 Lagemann, Ellen Condliffe, The Politics of Knowledge: The Carnegie Corporation, Philanthropy, and Public Policy (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1989), 70.

12 Ruml, Beardsley, “The Measurement of the Efficiency of Mental Tests,” Psychological Review 23 (1916): 501–7; id., The Extension of Selective Tests to Industry,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 81 (Jan. 1919): 3846; id., The Need for an Examination of Certain Hypotheses in Mental Tests,” The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods 17 (Jan. 1920): 5761.

13 William Osler, “Science the Handmaid of Butchery,” Boston Daily Globe, Mar. 12, 1916, 13. On Ruml and like-minded progressives, see Reagan, Patrick D., Designing a New America: The Origins of New Deal Planning, 1890–1943 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000), 140–67.

14 Keene, Jennifer, “Sustaining the Will to Fight: The American Army in World War I” in Raise, Train and Sustain: Delivering Land Combat Power, eds. Dennis, Peter and Grey, Jeffrey (Loftus: Australian Military History Publications, 2010), 5373.

15 “Sees in Psychology Means to Win War,” New York Times, Dec. 29, 1916, 4.

16 Carson, John, The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750–1940 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 24.

17 Carson, Measure, 255–56, 266.

18 Little, Branden, “An Explosion of New Endeavors: Global Humanitarian Responses to Industrialized Warfare in the First World War Era,” First World War Studies 5 (Jan. 2014): 116.

19 Minutes of the RF regarding Belgian War Relief, Oct. 21, 1914, RAC RF 1.1, series 100 N, box 56. See also Irwin, Julia, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation's Humanitarian Awakening (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); Jones, Marian Moser, The American Red Cross from Clara Barton to the New Deal (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2013).

20 The Work of the American Red Cross during the War. A Statement of Finances and Accomplishments for the period of Jul. 1, 1917 to Feb. 28, 1919, Washington, DC, 1919.

21 “The Millions of Rockefeller War Relief,” New York Times, Nov. 2, 1914, 1, 9; “Rockefeller Pier for Relief Ships,” New York Times, Nov. 9, 1914, 1, 4; Bicknell, Ernest, In the War's Wake, 1914–1915: The Rockefeller Foundation and the American Red Cross Join in Civilian Relief, (Washington, DC: American National Red Cross, 1936); RF Annual Report 1916, New York 1916, 39–40.

22 Memorandum on the Relation of the American Red Cross to Relief Work in Europe, Nov. 1918, RAC RF RG 1.1, series 100, box 78, folder 734. See also Irwin, Making the World Safe, 60, 97–98.

23 Statement of intent to provide war relief to Belgium, Oct. 31, 1914, RAC, RF RG 1.1, series 100 N, box 60, folder 587; “GORGAS [i.e. Major General William C. Gorgas who took charge of the medical relief expedition to Serbia, HR] Is Called to Save Serbia,” New York Times, Apr. 11, 1915, 1; Minutes of the RF regarding Belgian war relief, Jul. 18, 1916, RAC RF, RG 1.1, series 100 N, box 56, folder 556; RF, Annual Report 1918, New York 1918, 54–55.

24 Little, Branden, “Humanitarian Relief in Europe and the Analogue of War, 1914–1918” in Finding Common Ground: New Directions in First World War Studies, eds. Keene, Jennifer and Neiberg, Michael (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 139–58, here 152–53.

25 “Many Big Leaks for City Money,” New York Times, Mar. 31, 1912, 17.

26 United War Work Campaign, Letter of President Wilson to Fosdick, Sept. 3, 1918, Washington, DC, 1918; The War Department, Commission on Training Camp Activities, Washington, DC, 1917.

27 “U.S. Army and Moral Recreations, (…) Fosdick (…) says it is up to this Nation to be worthy of its Army,” New York Times, Aug. 4, 1918, 41.

28 Allen, Edward Frank and Fosdick, Raymond B., Keeping our Fighters Fit for War and After (New York: The Century Co., 1918).

29 Ford, Nancy Gentile, The Great War and America: Civil-Military Relations during World War I (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008), 2750.

30 Tuberculosis and the French Army,” Science, N.S. 46 (July 1917): 1011; see also Lion Murard; Zylberman, Patrick, “Mi-ignoré, mi-méprisé: Le ministère de la santé publique, 1920–1945,” Les Tribunes de la santé 1 (2003), 1933, especially note 19; Barnes, David, The Making of a Social Disease. Tuberculosis in Nineteenth Century France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 215–46.

31 Folks, Homer, The Human Cost of the War (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920), 119–67.

32 Farley, John, To Cast Out Disease: A History of the International Health Division of the Rockefeller Foundation (1913–51) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 4458.

33 Commission for Prevention of Tuberculosis in France, n.d., RAC RF RG 1.1, series 500 T, box 28, folder 266; Letter form Livingston Farrand to Wicliffe Rose, Dec. 21, 1917, RAC RF RG 1.1, series 500 T, box 25, folder 251.

34 Murard, Lion, “Designs with Disorder: International Conferences on Rural Health Care and the Art of the Local, 1931–39” in Shifting Boundaries of Public Health. Europe in the Twentieth Century, eds. Solomon, Susan Gross et al. (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008), 141–74, here 145.

35 E. J. Edwards, “The Fight to Save 2.000.000 Lives from Hookworm,” New York Times, Aug. 28, 1910, 12; Rose, Wickliffe, State Systems of Public Health in Twelve Southern States (Washington, DC: 1911).

36 Elman, Cheryl et al. , “Extending Public Health: the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission and Hookworm in the American South,” American Journal of Public Health 104 (Jan. 2014): 4758; Ettling, John, The Germ of Laziness: Rockefeller Philanthropy and Public Health in the New South (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981).

37 Stiles, Charles W., Hookworm Disease Among Cotton-Mill Operatives, Report on Condition of Women and Child Wage-Earners in the United States XVII (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1912). On the context, see Bender, Daniel E. and Lipman, Jana (eds.), Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism (New York: New York University Press, 2015).

38 For standard philanthropic wording and vibrant planning emphasis, see Wicliffe Rose Diary 1915, RAC RF RG 12 Officers’ diaries M-R, 1911–1929.

39 Palmer, Steven, Medicine and Public Health in Latin America: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

40 Tyrell, Ian, Reforming the World. The Creation of America's Moral Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013); Schumacher, Frank, “Embedded Empire: The United States and Colonialism,” Journal of Modern European History 14 (Apr. 2016): 202–24.

41 Anderson, Warwick, “Scientific Patriotism: Medical Science and National Self-Fashioning in Southeast Asia,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54 (Jan. 2012): 93113; Palmer, Steven, Launching Global Health: The Caribbean Odyssey of the Rockefeller Foundation (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010); Akami, Tomoko, “Imperial Polities, Intercolonialism, and the Shaping of Global Governing Norms: Public Health Expert Networks in Asia and the League of Nations Health Organization, 1908–37,” Journal of Global History 12 (Mar. 2017): 425.

42 Anderson, Warwick, Colonial Pathologies: American Tropical Medicine, Race, and Hygiene in the Philippines (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006).

43 RF Annual Report 1919, New York 1920, 31. For the American context, see Lederer, Susan E, Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America before the Second World War (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1995).

44 Palmer, Global Health.

45 Tuberculosis and the French ArmyScience N.S. 46 (1917), 1011; Walsh, Joseph, “Tuberculosis and the War,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 80 (1918): 2328.

46 Smith, Leonard V., “War and ‘Politics’: The French Army Mutinies of 1917,” War in History 2 (Apr. 1995): 180201.

47 Otis, Eward O., “The Examination of Soldiers for Tuberculosis in the U. S. Army,” The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 178 (1918): 3337.

48 RF Annual Report 1919, New York 1920, 28; Rockefeller to aid France, The Washington Post, Jan. 8, 1917, 5.

49 Ludovic Tournès,“L'américanisation de la science française? – La fondation Rockefeller et la construction d'une politique de recherche en biomédecine (1918–1939),” in Krige and Rausch, American Foundations and the Co-Production of World Order in the Twentieth Century, 7–34.

50 George E. Vincent, Memorandum of an interview with M. Hovelaque, a member of the French Commission, at the Plaza Hotel, RAC, RF RG 1.1, series 500 T, box 25, folder 249.

51 Lion Murard, “Designs within Disorder. International Conferences on Rural Health Care and the Art of the Local, 1931–39” in Solomon et al., Shifting Boundaries, 141–174, especially 144.

52 Livingston Farrand, Possible co-operation between the American Red Cross and the RF with regard to the work for the prevention of tuberculosis in France, 2. Juli 1917, RAC RFA RG 1.1, series 500 T, box 25, folder 249.

53 Irwin, Making the World Safe, 68–75, 115. They increased funding for the ARC adding up to around 5 million USD in 1917 plus 3 million USD in 1918.

54 Letter from Selskar M. Gunn to F. F. Russell, Jan. 14, 1924, RAC RF RG 1.1, series 500 T, box 27, folder 264; RF Annual Report 1924, New York 1924, 147–49; RF Annual Report 1926, New York 1926, 97–103.

55 Public Health and the Rockefeller Foundation, in The Lancelet 202 (1923), 1196; see also Paul Weindling, “American Foundations and Internationalizing of Public Health” in Solomon et al., Shifting Boundaries, 63–86.

56 “Rockefeller Foundation's First Report for 1918,” New York Times, Mar. 31, 1918, 7, 10.

57 Minutes of the RF regarding food need in postwar Europe, Dec. 3, 1919, RAC RF RG 1.1, series 100 N, box 56, folder 533.

58 Tooze, J. Adam, The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order, 1916–1931 (London: Allen Lane, 2014).

59 Blower, Brooke L., “From Isolationism to Neutrality: A New Framework for Understanding American Political Culture, 1919–1941,” Diplomatic History 38 (Apr. 2014): 345–76.

60 “J.D. Rockefeller Jr. is Donor at Geneva,” New York Times, Sept. 12, 1927, 5; RAC Office of the Messrs Rockefeller records E/175/1512; Brown, Theodore M. and Fee, Elizabeth, “Raymond B. Fosdick (1883–1972): Ardent Advocate of Internationalism,” American Journal of Public Health 102 (July 2012): 1285; Weindling, Paul, “Philanthropy and World Health: The Rockefeller Foundation and the League of Nations Health Organisation,” Minerva 35 (Autumn 1997): 269–81.

61 RF Annual Report 1923, New York 1923, 23–24, 253–54, 284–87; Weindling, Paul, “Public Health and Political Stabilisation: Rockefeller Funding in Interwar Central/Eastern Europe,” Minerva 31 (1993): 253–67.

62 Beardsley Ruml, “Memo on Conditions Affecting the Memorial's Participation in Projects in Social Science,” July 10, 1924, RAC LSRM I/1/9. See also Rausch, “Akademische Vernetzung.”

63 Krige and Rausch, “Introduction,” 7–34.

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