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Research Question:  How did military road building in the United States evolve during the 20th Century?

Title:  Military Road Building in the United States

Introduction:  Preliminary thesis:  Before our current smooth and accessible roads, there was a lot of confusion about who was responsible to provide them, but the demand for good roads, experiences like those in World War I, and a need for quick crossing of the continent led to society-changing legislation that ultimately created an organized, efficient whole.

Topic 1:  Background:  What travel was like before.  America’s Highways, 20

            Subtopic 1:  State versus federal responsibility.  America’s Highways, 16

            Subtopic 2:  Justification through military use and use of soldier labor, connecting forts.   Weingroff, 9

Topic 2:  Increased demand for good roads with advent of bicycle and automobile.  America’s Highways, 24

            Subtopic 1:  Good Roads Movement and League of American Wheelmen.  Agriculture Appropriations Act of 1894, 737 (Primary source)

            Subtopic 2:  Rural Free Delivery – using the post office to justify federal farm-to-market roads.  Fuller, 42

            Subtopic 3:  Impact of Spanish-American War.  McLean, 3

            Subtopic 4:  Early Legislation.  McLean, 9

            Subtopic 5:  Impact of World War I.  Believed not essential, America’s Highways,110

                        Taxi army  Mroz, 22 (image:  caption “In September 1914, before the Battle of the Marne, the French used every available vehicle, forming what was known as the taxi corps, to successfully outrun the German army.”

  Image.  In September 1914, before the Battle of the Marne, the French used every available vehicle, forming what was known as the “taxi corps,” to successfully outrun the German army.”

Topic 3:  Real change

            Subtopic 1:  Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919 as an origin story.  Eisenhower (primary source)

            Subtopic 2:  Bankhead convoy and pathfinding.  Bankhead article, Atlanta Constitution

            Subtopic 3:  Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1921.  Williamson, 9

            Subtopic 4:  Picking up the pace as World War II draws near.  America’s Highways, 50

            Subtopic 5:  The Eisenhower era.  Williamson, 10

Topic 4:  The Present

            Subtopic 1:  Efficiency, effectiveness, and science.  Bass, 26

            Subtopic 2:  Interstate 14, Gulf Coast Strategic Highway, Forts to Ports Highway.  Babin, House press release (primary source)




America’s Highways, 1776-1976:  A History of the Federal-Aid Program. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1976.  Accessed July 21, 2017.,-89,753.

Bass, Louis R. “The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways:  Its Service to Major United States Army Installations.” Kansas State University, 1961.  Accessed July 21, 2017.

McLean, Ross H. “Troop Movements on the American Railroads During the Great War.” The American Historical Review Vol 26, no. 3 (April 1921): 464–88.  Accessed July 21, 2017.

Mroz, Albert. American Military Vehicles of World War I:  An Illustrated History of Armored Cars, Staff Cars, Motorcycles, Ambulances, Trucks, Tractors and Tanks. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2009.  Accessed July 21, 2017.[Albert_Mroz]_American_Military_Vehicles_of_World_(

Weingroff, Richard F. “‘Clearly Vicious as a Matter of Policy’:  The Fight Against Federal-Aid.” U.S. Department of Administration. Federal Highway Administration, November 18, 2015. Accessed July 21, 2017.

———. “Federal Aid Road Act of 1916:  Building the Foundation.” Public Roads, 1996.  Accessed July 21, 2017.

Williamson, John. “Federal Aid to Roads and Highways Since the 18th Century:  A Legislative History.” Congressional Research Service 7–5700 (January 6, 2012).  Accessed July 21, 2017.

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