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Lecture 5

Lecture 5- On the Homefront During WWI.docx

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McGill University
HIST 386
Brian Lewis

Lecture 5: On the Homefront During WWI Economy national defense budget at 2B pounds by 1918 national debt increased to 5.87B pounds original slogan for the war was "Business as Usual" thought they would bankroll without actually getting completely involved BUT they had to mobilize fighting troops on a huge scale to keep the French from collapsing, while funding the allies increasingly dependent on Am. financial markets, becoming a debtor nation total mobilization of goods, resources, and men brought about sustained economic boom manufacturing industry does better, as do coal, iron, steel, and textiles new industries for planes, cars, chemicals, and the wireless scientific and engineering research come up with tanks, chemical weapons, and synthetic materials labour surplus soaked up by the need for workers unemployment under 1% wages increased agriculture doing well wheat production reaches new levels BUT having to produce more with less, because less workers profits increase by 500% labourers did better than skilled workers erosion of the traditional status of skilled workers as the jobs become diluted leads to high inflation cost of food doubled by 1917, as did overall cost of living the poorest and unskilled benefited most nutrition improves, as does survival of people Organized Labour labour shortages give trade unions better bargaining position natural constituency of labour unions increased considerably in size gov't desire for uninterrupted production concessions for labour leaders and unions labour leaders involved in gov't itself local shop stewards gain power 5 1/2 million working days in 1917 lost because of labour strikes about wages, dilution, long working hours, and working conditions Jon McLean imprisoned under emergency wartime regulations for spreading communism prospects for revolutionary uprising quickly snuffed out Women many employed in munitions
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