World War One was the first war in which total mobilization of the entire nation was necessary. As a result, a number of governmental actions were instituted to mobilize the war effort:
- The Lever Food and Control Act of 1917 created the U.S. Food Commission under Herbert Hoover, an engineer who later became President. The agency encouraged (but did not require) Americans to observe "meatless Tuesdays, wheatless Wednesdays, porkless Saturdays."
- The War Industries Board had total control of the U.S. economy to the extent such was possible. The Board was chaired by Bernard Baruch who required all government agencies to submit budget requests for supplies and materials to him.
- Espionage Act of 1917: provided severe penalties for
giving aid to the enemy, inciting insubordination, disloyalty, or refusal of duty to the armed services, or for circulating false reports and statements with intent to interfere with the war effort.
- Sedition Act of 1918: provided penalties for interfering with the sale of war bonds or for writing or publishing any material
disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive about the American Government, Constitution, Army, or Navy.
One thousand people were convicted of violating the Sedition Act and Espionage Act, including Eugene V. Debs who later ran for President as a Socialist. He famously commented:
I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war heart and soul, and that is the world-wide revolution. I would a thousand times rather be a free soul in jail than a sycophant and a coward on the streets.
Debs was sentenced to twenty years in prison for his comments.