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President Suzzallo and the State Council of Defense

"Resolved: by the faculty and students of the University of Washington, in mass meeting ascribed, that we hereby pledge to the support of the President of the United States in this crisis all our resources to assist him in maintaining the rights and the honor of the American citizen and the American nation"
Student and Faculty Resolution, March 9, 1917

"The Council urges all to refrain from unnecessary expenditures of every kind, and to bear constantly in mind that only one thing is now of real importance, that is the winning of the war."

May 1918 "Thrift and Economy" bulletin from the Council of National Defense

Henry Suzzallo was president of the University of Washington from 1915 to 1926. In 1915, he became involved in the war effort, preparing the campus, city, and state for U.S. entry into the war. He initially served as an arbitrator of the National War Labor Policies Board, mediating cases between workers and businesses supporting the war effort. In 1917, he chaired a drive in Seattle to raise $300,000 for the American Red Cross, the success of which lead to his election as chairman of the Washington State Council of Defense (SCD). The SCD, tasked by the governor to organize the state's war effort, was comprised of food processors, lumbermen, labor officials, farmers, shipbuilders, bankers, and representatives from fisheries, aviation, public health, transportation, and women's groups.

Henry Suzzallo
Henry Suzzallo (image not in database)

Suzzallo saw in the war an opportunity to bring UW to national distinction. With UW's prominent place in the mining and lumber industries, the UW supported the provision of "food, ships, and money" as Washington State's primary war exports. The Board authorized Suzzallo "to offer the use of the university buildings and grounds for military, nursing, and other activities in the event of a war between the United States and a foreign power." One of Suzzallo's triumphant moments came on April 7, 1917, just as the U.S. entered the war. He held a rally downtown to raise the city's spirits, with over 8,000 people attending. Suzzallo supported the labor movement's call for an 8-hour workday during the war, which ultimately led to his firing as president in 1926 by Governor Hartley, a lumber magnate who opposed this concession to workers.

"My friends, my fellow-countrymen, we are gathered here to affirm a cause. That cause is the sacredness of our national liberties and our national rights. For years, as becomes a just people, it has leashed its indignation, patiently gathered testimony, and heard the guilty. The evidence is now in and the judgment is war."

Henry Suzzallo's address at an April 7, 1917 rally downtown

When the U.S. entered the war, leaders on university campuses worried that most men would enlist, so enrollment would decline dramatically. Suzzallo made speeches and wrote op-eds in the Daily, arguing that in the long run students who stayed on campus to gain expertise would help the country and the war more than enlisting would. Despite this, hundreds of men quickly enlisted. Suzzallo then created the Student Army Training Corps (SATC), accepting anyone into the Corps who had a high school degree. The SATC were stationed on campus and lead by Captain William T. Patten, with the University providing room and mess while the military provided training. SATC students, considered members of the army, could be called up for active service at any time.

Suzzallo and the University worked throughout 1918 to get the campus ready, and the SATC accepted its first recruits in September 1918. Described as a miniature Camp Lewis, campus was taken over completely by the war effort. Unfortunately, the SATC did not fare well on campus, many recruits suffering from the influenza before a rash of food poisoning incidents. When the war end in November 1918, the Cadet Corps was demobilized. However, the SATC helped re-establish the ROTC on campus in 1919.