Date of Graduation
In 1917, the Navy Department authorized a factory to manufacture battleship armor plate. Although the plant failed in its intended purpose, its example reflected both the government's search for a way to regulate the growth of monopoly and cartels, and the changing face of military-industrial relations. Difficulties with the steel industry began in the late 1800s, but the influence of Wilsonian â€œNew Freedom,â€ precedents for government ordnance manufacture established by Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, and attachment to the 1916 naval build program, helped assure the armor plant's construction. Franklin Roosevelt's experience in the Navy Department under Daniels, provided continuity of the plant's example to the New Deal. The plant pioneered the â€œyardstickâ€ principle, which gained new use in the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The inactive plant also became a â€œbirch rodâ€ used to force fair labor standards on private industry. Profiteering allegations toward naval ordnance contractors assured a place for government manufacturing plants before, during, and directly after World War I, and influenced the Navy's decision to retain the plant, inactive since the 1921â€“1922 Washington Treaty, in standby status until June 1939. Then, an agreement with Carnegie-Illinois Steel to run the plant under cost-plus-fixed fee terms on the government's behalf, began a new phase of military-industrial relations. A December 1, 1940, White House conference used this example to justify additional construction of government plants for both American and British defense requirements, leading to a role in the creation of Lend-Lease. As part of the â€œarsenal of democracy,â€ two contractors operating two sections of the plant turned out both conventional and top secret ordnance items through war's end. The plant's active role ended in 1945, and the changing face of defense planning made it obsolete. When purchased by a major defense contractor in 1961, the plant became a part of the modern military-industrial relationship before fading, in the 1970s into its present-day uses by chemical and service industries in the Kanawha Valley.
Camp, Joe Hardin, "Birch rod to arsenal: A study of the naval ordnance plant at South Charleston, West Virginia and the search for a government industrial policy." (2002). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8565.