Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Baruch, Bernard Mannes (1870–1965)

Unofficial U.S. presidential and government adviser before, during, and after World War II. Born in Camden, South Carolina, on 19 August 1870, Bernard Baruch had, before World War I, accumulated a fortune through shrewd stock speculation. A great admirer of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, Baruch served from 1917 to 1918 as chairman of the War Industries Board, which coordinated the government's industrial procurement for the war effort.

Baruch thereafter became a munificent Democratic contributor who was particularly close to the party's conservative southern power brokers, and a well-oiled publicity machine ably promoted his image as an economic expert ready to serve as an unofficial "adviser to presidents." Baruch maintained close relations with the army, backing the Army Industrial War College, established in 1924, and other efforts at postwar industrial military planning.

Although increasingly unsympathetic to the 1930s New Deal domestic policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the anti-German Baruch largely supported Roosevelt's foreign policies and placed his experience and reputation at the service of the president and the War Department. Baruch successfully suggested that existing American neutrality legislation be modified to enable belligerent nations with the funds and shipping to do so—effectively, Great Britain and its allies—to purchase war supplies in the United States on a "cash-and-carry" basis.

Baruch also advocated major increases in U.S. naval and military strength. As war approached, he supported a comprehensive mobilization of the civilian population and resources, and in the early 1940s, he consistently advocated price stabilization and centralized government direction of all industrial production, proposals that facilitated the creation of the War Production Board in 1943. That organization was headed by Senator James F. Byrnes of North Carolina, an old political associate of Baruch. In February 1944, Baruch and John Hancock, of the investment bank Lehman Brothers, submitted a report on reconversion that recommended the postwar dismantling of government controls and the reversion to job creation through private enterprise. As a postwar adviser on nuclear energy, he advocated policies that effectively ensured that his country would retain its atomic monopoly. Baruch died in New York City on 20 June 1965.

Priscilla Roberts


Further Reading
Baruch, Bernard M. The Public Years. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960.; Hooks, Gregory. Forging the Military-Industrial Complex: World War II's Battle of the Potomac. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991.; Schwarz, Jordan A. The Speculator: Bernard M. Baruch in Washington, 1917–1965. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981.
 

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