Dr. Uncle Sam is Now in Charge of Our Industrial Troubles


This World War I poster touts the role of the federal government in promoting industrial cooperation by portraying Uncle Sam as a doctor, who administers the medicine of "Co-operation" to patients identified as "Wage Earner" and "Wage Payer," as the quack doctor of "Agitation" leaves and a nurse, "The Public," sweeps up “Agitator’s Acid,” “Legislative Ether,” and “Spirits of Discontent.” A tiny bird comments, "A real doctor on the job now!" The text further explains that the prescription, “a Victory Tonic, called Co-operation,” will cure strife and win the war. In 1917–18, wartime necessity dramatically expanded the role of the government in virtually every part of the U.S. economy: manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, labor, and consumption. To deal with wartime shortages and to shift the economy from civilian consumption to production for military use, President Woodrow Wilson created the War Industries Board in July 1917. In April 1918, he established the War Labor Board (WLB), which was empowered to arbitrate disputes between employers and workers, thereby ensuring that strikes and work stoppages would not occur.

Last updated: November 14, 2017