The membership of the Montana Council of Defense, established in response to an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, was initially appointed by Governor Sam Stewart. Challenges to their authority however led Stewart to call a special session of the legislature in February 1918. The legislature officially established the Council in on February 20, 1918 and empowered it to "do all acts and things not inconsistent with the Constitution of laws of the State of Montana, or of the United States, which are necessary of proper for the public safety and for the protection of life and public property… and things necessary or proper so that the military, civil and industrial resources of the State may be most efficiently applied toward maintenance of the defense of the State and nation... “ The Council first concerned itself with agricultural production and boosting enthusiasm for the war to counteract Montana's strongly anti-war labor unions, radical farmers, and large immigrant population. The war propaganda campaign however gradually led to the suppression of all dissent with which the Council eventually became identified. With the Armistice signed in November 1918, the Council quickly ceased active functioning although it was not formally dissolved until July 1921 after the United States had signed a treaty with Germany.
Access digital images of the Montana Council of Defense Records on the Montana Memory Project.