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President Woodrow Wilson Writes to Franklin Martin, MD, FACS

Letter from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Martin, March 5, 1918

President Woodrow Wilson appointed ACS Founder Franklin Martin to Wilson’s civilian advisory committee during World War I as overseeing the civilian role in medicine and surgery, including general sanitation, during the war. Called the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense, the Commission included such men as Samuel Gompers, appointed to oversee labor, including conservation of health and welfare of workers; Bernard Baruch, appointed to oversee procurement and distribution of raw materials, minerals and metals; Julius Rosenwald, appointed to oversee supplies (including clothing,) and others. Doctor Martin’s role in the Advisory Commission led to his chairmanship of the General Medical Board of the Council of the National Defense and recruitment of surgeons and other health care personnel to the war effort. Some of Dr. Martin’s contributions led to the passage of the Owen-Dyer Bill, a bill which requiried that Medical Reserve Corps officers be given full military rank equal to that of the other US military branches. More important, this augmentation of the military officers’ rank, made the Americans equals of the medical officers of the Allied armies of England, France, and Italy as well as the armies of Germany, Austria and Japan.

For more material on Franklin Martin’s role in WWI, see his autobiography, The Joy of Living, and the Martin Papers in the ACS Archives.