Theodore Roosevelt's friend and political ally Leonard Wood was a major advocate Preparedness while commanding at Governors Island.

Theodore Roosevelt’s friend and political ally Leonard Wood was a strong advocate of Preparedness while commanding at Governors Island. As January 1916 closed out he was planning for, and looking ahead to, the opening of the civilian training centers come summer.

In the digging I did for yesterday’s post for the anniversary of the birth of Franklin Delano Roosevelt I came across a vignette about Major General Leonard Wood. Wood was commanding the Department of the East on Governors Island at the time, and with talk about Preparedness coming from all sides–from Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Elihu Root, and now even President Wilson–Wood too was thinking about the possibility of American involvement overseas. That is why one hundred years ago this week General Wood publicized his plans for that coming summer’s Plattsburgh camps. As Wood described it there would be five camps in Plattsburgh itself and four at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia. I believe choosing a base in Georgia was a conscious effort to bring North and South together in preparation for joining the Allied cause. That’s also why, when America really entered the war a year later, so many of the bases hastily springing up down South were named after Confederate officers. Remember that this is only a few years after the Gettysburg 50th anniversary.

In a bulletin Wood explained that the nine camps would be divided into senior and junior divisions. College graduate and men aged 23 – 45 would attend the senior encampments and undergraduates and age-qualifying high school senior would be in the junior ranks. The Eastern Department brass was envisioning 10,000 men participating. 1916–just like 2016–was an election year and the Plattsburgh Movement would play a greater role in the election as the months passed.

(image/The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “Maj.-Gen. Leonard Wood, 1860-1927.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1860 – 1920.