The Montana Council of Defense was a VERY small group of Administrative Personnel set up to deal with situations arising in Montana from World War I, as requested by the US Federal Council on Defense in 1917 as the US was getting closer to involvement in the War.
The first Montana Council of Defense was made up of nine persons. Governor Samuel V. Stewart served as Chairman ex-officio; Charles D. Greenfield, Commissioner of Agriculture and Publicity, served as Secretary. The seven additional members were appointed by the Governor on a non-partisan basis. They represented the various sectors of the economy.
The members were: Norman B. Holter of Helena, hardware dealer; Mrs. Tylar B. Thompson of Missoula, a leading member of the Montana Federation of Womens' Clubs; J. E. Edwards of Forsyth, bank president; William Campbell of Helena, Editor of the Helena Independent; Charles J. Kelly of Butte, President and Manager of the Henny Mercantile Company; B. C,. White, rancher from Buffalo; and Edward C. Elliot of Missoula, Chancellor of the University of Montana.
The first meeting of the Montana Council of Defense occurred April 18-19, 1917, at the Placer Hotel in Helena.
The membership of the Montana Council of Defense, established in response to an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, was initially appointed by Governor Sam Stewart. Challenges to their authority however led Stewart to call a special session of the legislature in February 1918. The legislature officially established the Council in on February 20, 1918 and empowered it to "do all acts and things not inconsistent with the Constitution of laws of the State of Montana, or of the United States, which are necessary or proper for the public safety and for the protection of life and public property... and things necessary or proper so that the military, civil and industrial resources of the State may be most efficiently applied toward maintenance of the defense of the State and nation... " The Council first concerned itself with agricultural production and boosting enthusiasm for the war to counteract Montana's strongly anti-war labor unions, radical farmers, and large immigrant population. The war propaganda campaign however gradually led to the suppression of all dissent with which the Council eventually became identified. With the Armistice signed in November 1918, the Council quickly ceased active functioning although it was not formally dissolved until July 1921 after the United States had signed a treaty with Germany.
Members of the restructured Council were: Governor Samuel V. Stewart, Mrs. Tylar Thompson; Will A. Campbell; Samuel Sansburn; C. D. (Charles Diggs) Greenfield; C. V. Peck; I. D. (Ignatius Daniel) O'Donnell; M. M. Donogue; N. T. Lease; Sidney M. Logan, and Chas. J. Kelly.
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