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Governor Whitman's Proclamation about the New York State Boys Working Reserve, March 14, 1918

Governor's Proclamation

New York State Archives, NYSA_13035-79_B2_1918_37
Document Description
Governor Charles S. Whitman's Proclamation calling for boys to join the New York State Boys Working Reserve (Farm Cadet Program) to assist the war effort by working on farms to keep production levels high while adult men are away fighting in World War I, March 14, 1918.
What is the purpose of the governor’s proclamation? Provide textual evidence for your answer.
How does the governor support his argument? Provide textual evidence for your answer.
What exceptions does the governor give to the order of the proclamation?
Do you think this proclamation from the governor was successful in accomplishing the goal? Explain your answer.
Historical Challenges
Research the attitude and actions of the U.S. adolescent population during the Vietnam War. How did the attitudes differ from the willing participants in the farm labor program described by the governor? Why do you think the attitudes were so different? Explain your answers.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write a letter to your governor expressing concern over a statewide environmental issue. Include in your letter possible solutions to the problem that would involve the help of the state’s adolescent population and request the governor’s attention in this matter.
Science: The governor mentions certain labor industries from which boys would not be taken if they were vital to the war effort? What U.S. industries would have been vital to the war effort? How would these industries have contributed to the war?
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War. Harper Collins: New York, 1995.
New York Times article. ASKS NEWSPAPERS FOR AID.; Secretary Wilson Urges Them to Help Mobilize Farm, Labor. Mar 22, 1918, Friday Page 20, 480 words


Historical Context
The presence of over four million American soldiers in Europe meant the absence of those same individuals from the American workforce. Certain areas of the country noticed a significant decline in the number of active farms due to the absent farm labor. State officials feared that if too many farms became inactive during the war a severe food shortage would follow. New York State attempted to solve the issue of a labor shortage by enacting several programs which recruited workers and students into farm labor. 

Governor Whitman wrote this proclamation to encourage the enrollment of New York’s youth population into one of these programs. Although not old enough to fight on the battlefield, these individuals could provide the labor necessary to maximize food production for both the local communities and the world. Both the federal Food Administration and the state Food Commission promoted the idea that contributing to the production of food was both a public duty and a patriotic act. 
Essential Question
In what ways does a nation attempt to satisfy its basic economic needs during times of war?
Check for Understanding
Identify the key issues with food supply during the war and describe the governor's plan for addressing those issues.