Under Four Flags, lithograph by Philip Martini, 1917
Authorized by Congress under the Departmental Reorganization Act, President Woodrow Wilson created the Committee on Public Information. The agency, headed by journalist George Creel, used films, posters, public speakers, and other media to promote the war effort to the American public. Wilson also created new federal agencies to regulate the economy and arbitrate labor disputes.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
Congress Grants Power to Wartime Presidents
The Constitution authorizes Congress to pass legislation necessary to execute the powers and responsibilities of the federal government. During the First and Second World Wars, Congress temporarily granted extraordinary power to the president to expedite certain wartime policies. The Department Reorganization Act (Overman Act) of 1918 gave President Woodrow Wilson broad authority to create or reorder government agencies. The War Powers Acts of 1941 and 1942 granted President Franklin D. Roosevelt extensive powers to support the war effort and provide for the nation’s defense.
This bill merely gives the President . . . powers that are necessary to win the war, but powers that should be returned to the Congress when the war has been won.
Representative Hamilton Fish, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, December 16, 1941