Vintage Audio - Fundraising

John D. Rockefeller Click to download as MP3

Reproduced below is the speech recorded by the industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1917 entitled Fundraising.

An oil tycoon Rockefeller - perhaps one of America's most vilified business figures for a period in the early years of the 20th century on account of his dominant position in the oil business - threw his weight behind government efforts to fund America's military participation in World War One.  To this end Rockefeller spoke in favour of the United War Work campaign (see below).

Use the player above to listen to a recording of Rockefeller's speech from 1917.


The United War Work campaign, which is asking the American people to contribute not less than $170,500,000, is the greatest voluntary altruistic endeavour the world has ever known.  For the first time in history, people of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant faith are standing side by side and working in closest cooperation for a great common cause.

The seven organizations included in the campaign - namely, the Young Men's Christian Association, the Young Women's Christian Association, the National Catholic War Council, the Jewish Welfare Board, the War Camp Community Service, the American Library Association, and the Salvation Army - are authorized by the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to work for the soldiers and sailors in and near the camps.

Since talk of peace has been current during the past few weeks, the question has arisen in the minds of many as to whether this great fund of $170,500,000 will be needed in the event of an early termination of the war.  The answer is that the sooner the war ends, the more vital will be the need for this fund - every dollar of it, and as much more as the generosity of the American people will provide.

Our men in uniform are like the college football players.  While the struggle is impending, they are observing the rules of training that they may be fit to fight, but when the game has been won the temptation to break training and make up for the restraint of the past months and years will be a mighty one.

At the best, it will take many months to bring home the men now overseas, and a still longer time to absorb into civil life this great army.  During these days and weeks and months of comparative idleness, relaxation, inactivity, and waiting, they will need as never since the day they entered the service the friendship, inspiration, occupation, amusement, and strength which these organizations alone can provide.

Do you want to see the flower of the manhood of this country, which has brought everlasting glory to our nation, neglected in the hour of its greatest need, and afraid to face temptation?  Then withhold your contribution to this fund.

Or do you want to see a chapter of moral victory and prowess as superb and as glorious as that of the victories of arms which have already been achieved, added to the annals of the history of this country, and high standards of morality maintained and perpetuated by our sons and brothers in the days to come?

Then give of your abundance, give of your poverty, but give without stint to this great fund which should be not less than $250,000,000.  I confidently believe that the American people will stand solidly behind the men in uniform, and that they will regard it a privilege to contribute to the limit.

A Runner was a soldier who carried messages by hand.

- Did you know?

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