“Secretary Lane’s resolution was referred to the Advisory Commission, and on February 13, at a joint meeting of the Council and Commission, the matter was thoroughly discussed. Out of this resolution grew the famous cooperative committees of the Advisory Commission. Here was the inception of the dollar-a-year man.
“This organization, set up by the Advisory Commission, furnished for the first eight or ten months of our participation in the war, almost the only thing in the way of a war machine under the government on the civilian or industrial side.
“In the first week of May, 1917, the Council of National Defense called to Washington representatives of each state in the Union, to confer with the federal government as to the common prosecution of the war. The state delegates, consisting of many Governors and in each case of leading citizens of the respective commonwealths, were received by the six Cabinet officers, forming the Council, in the office of Secretary Baker in April.
“Secretary Lane thought that the most effective way to wake the country up out of its dream of security was to tell the truth about the submarine losses, the country up to that time not having really appreciated what the losses amounted to. He said, ’The President is going to address the State representatives at the White House, and I am going to urge him to cut loose on the submarine losses,’ and he asked me to prepare a memorandum for him to give to the President. This I did. The President, however, apparently decided not to go into the subject, and Secretary Lane, with a courage that can only be appreciated by those who knew the atmosphere of official Washington at that time, decided to take the bull by the horns himself, and at the next meeting with the representatives with the Council in Secretary Baker’s office, Secretary Lane ... cut loose and told the actual truth about submarine losses at that time. ... The next morning it was the story of the day in the newspapers and it did as much to arouse the country as a whole as to what we were up against as any one thing that occurred during this period, save only the President’s war message itself.
“Secretary Lane became chairman of the field division of the Council of National Defense toward the end of the war. This was the body that guided and coordinated the work of the 184,000 units of the state, county, community, and municipal Councils of Defense, and of those of the Woman’s Committee of the Council—no doubt the greatest organization of the kind that the world has ever known.”
To George W. Lane
Washington, May 3, 1917