Disque, Brice P., 1879-1960

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1879-07-07
Death 1960-02-29

Biographical notes:

Army officer in charge of the Spruce Production Division of the Bureau of Aircraft Production, President of the United States Spruce Production Corporation, 1917-1919, member of the Solid Fuels Administration for War, 1942-1943, and businessman.

From the description of Brice P. Disque papers, 1899-1957. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 18766494

Born in 1879, Disque entered the United States Army at the start of the Spanish-American War. During World War I, he was sent to the Pacific Northwest and placed in charge of the U.S. War Department's Spruce Production Division, which provided spruce and other wood needed for building aircraft. Disque founded the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen to address production slow-down and labor relations disputes, a move that substantially increased spruce production in 1917 and 1918. Following the war, however, the U.S. Congress investigated charges that Disque and the legion had treated American Federation of Labor members unfairly. Disque was president of the United States Spruce Production Corporation, 1917-1919, and president of the Anthracite Institute, 1929-1933. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Solid Fuels Administration for War. Disque died in 1960.

From the description of Brice P. Disque papers, 1906-1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 39388849

General Brice Pursell Disque (1879-1960) is best remembered for his distinguished service as the U.S. Army officer in charge of the Spruce Production Division of the Bureau of Aircraft Production, and as the President of the United States Spruce Production Corporation, 1917-1919. Under his leadership the chaos that characterized seasonal spruce production in the Pacific Northwest was transformed into an orderly operation. A high degree of organization was necessary to meet the needs of the United States and the needs of the allied nations for ship and railway timber, commercial lumber, shingles and aircraft frames. Disque consulted with the woodworkers and the Proceedings of the Lumberman's Protective League show he established the eight hour working day, formulated regulations for governing labor conditions, and participated in arbitration of disputes. Equal representation of employers and employees on all councils was also established. The Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumberman (LLLL) was formed, thus resolving Industrial Employees Union which emerged with the AFL. For his service with the Spruce Production Division Disque was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

In his civil career, General Disque served as president of a number of corporations such as the Anthracite Equipment Corporation, G. Amsinck and Co., and the Sulphide Ore Process Company. He also served on various private and public boards and commissions such as the Anthracite Institute and the Solid Fuels Administration for War. In 1917 he served as Warden of the Michigan State Prison. He corresponded widely, particularly in touch with many of his associates of World War I days. General Disque died in 1960.

From the guide to the Brice P. Disque papers, 1899-1957, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Brice P. Disque commanded the U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division and founded the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen during the First World War. Born in Ohio in 1879, Disque entered the United States Army as a private at the start of the Spanish-American War. By that war's end, he was a lieutenant. After a series of various administrative assignments in the army and a brief stint as head warden of the Michigan State Prison, Disque volunteered for combat in France when the United States entered the First World War. His superiors instead sent him to the Pacific Northwest and charged him with accelerating the cutting of spruce and other trees which the Allies needed to build aircraft. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had dramatically slowed logging throughout the region with a series of strikes and slowdowns primarily aimed at forcing employers to improve conditions in the logging camps and to institute an eight-hour day. After consulting with employers, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and members of the Washington Defense Council, Disque decided to use a mixture of force and concessions to fight the IWW. He dispatched a number of soldiers to work as loggers and to harass IWW organizers. He also convinced the War Department to add an eight-hour day requirement to all of its contracts with logging companies in the region.

Disque then founded the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, an organization which was headed by army officers and which acted as part labor union and part patriotic society. Legion organizers enrolled all of the roughly 20,000 soldiers working as loggers and about 100,000 civilian loggers during the war. All enrollees had to sign a loyalty oath and agree not to strike. Enrollees could be members of the IWW or AFL, but they had to promise not to organize workers into any union other than the legion. Disque's measures substantially increased spruce production in late 1917 and early 1918. After the war, timber executives assumed leadership of the legion and turned it into a conservative, industry-wide company union.

Immediately following the war, the United States Congress investigated charges that Disque and the legion had treated AFL members unfairly and spent too much money to accomplish limited results. Although the hearings tarnished Disque's reputation, Congress nevertheless approved his promotion to brigadier general. Disque drifted in and out of active duty in the 1920s and 1930s, alternating between performing training missions for the army and serving on the board of trustees of various private firms. Disque also served as president of the United States Spruce Production Corporation and as president of the Anthracite Institute, a large trade association, 1929-1933. He served in the Solid Fuels Administration for War during the Second World War. Disque died in 1960.

From the guide to the Brice P. Disque papers, 1906-1960, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

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Subjects:

  • Collective labor agreements--Lumber trade--Northwest, Pacific
  • Timber
  • Airplanes, wooden
  • Lumber trade
  • Loggers
  • Governmental investigations
  • Loggers--Labor unions
  • Conservatism
  • Labor disputes--Northwest, Pacific
  • Armies--Officers--Archives
  • Armies--United States--Officers--Archives
  • Transportation
  • Loggers--Labor unions--Northwest, Pacific
  • Raw materials
  • Timber--Northwest, Pacific
  • Labor disputes
  • Military
  • Business, Industry, and Labor
  • Raw materials--United States
  • Prison wardens
  • Government and Politics
  • Collective labor agreements--Lumber trade
  • Loggers--Northwest, Pacific
  • Spruce
  • Labor laws and legislation
  • Governmental investigations--United States
  • World War, 1914-1918--Economic aspects
  • Forest products industry
  • Lumber trade--Northwest, Pacific
  • Spruce--Northwest, Pacific

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)
  • Northwest, Pacific (as recorded)