The Texas State Council of Defense, a branch of the National Council of Defense established on April 9, 1917, resulted from a request of Secretary of War Newton D. Baker to Governor James E. Ferguson to have a state council formed to meet the national emergency resulting from World War I. After the declaration of war, the need of a central Washington organization to be a clearinghouse between the states resulted in the group called the Section on Cooperation between the States, which called a conference in Washington in May 1917 to formulate plans for organization of state councils. The Texas State Council, composed of thirty-eight members appointed by Governor Ferguson, met first in Dallas on May 10, 1917. Given legal status by the Thirty-fifth Legislature on May 14, 1917, its final organization was completed when O. E. Dunlap was made chairman, Thomas H. Ball, vice chairman, J. F. Carl secretary, and Royal A. Ferris, treasurer. State council meetings were held in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Galveston. The council placed at the disposal of the nation the entire resources of the state, centralized and coordinated state war work, organized and directed local councils, and sponsored independent state defense activities. It worked through ten committees: finance, publicity, legal, transportation, coordination, sanitation and medicine, labor, food supply and conservation, military affairs, and state protection. With over 240 county councils and about 15,000 community councils, its organization was at the disposal of each war loan drive and each Red Cross drive. It also sponsored the Texas Division of the Woman's Committee that promoted health, provided recreation, and aided in war drives. The local councils set up programs to generate patriotism, sell war bonds, recruit soldiers, and maintain enthusiasm and support for the war effort in general. Most groups established Home Guards-organizations to promote patriotism and provide militia support if necessary. The Texas State Council of Defense existed through World War I. Council work was also conducted for six months after the Armistice to render aid to returning soldiers. The last council meeting was on June 7, 1919.
Support Texas History Now
Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.
Texas War Records Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Oran Elijah Turner, History of the Texas State Council of Defense (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1926).
- Progressive Era
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Anonymous, “Texas State Council of Defense,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-state-council-of-defense.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.