Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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Private companies, including those which suspended production of civilian products, continued to advertise throughout the war. Advertising remained a tax deductible corporate expense. Many businesses chose to link their images with the war effort in the ads they ran. The public soon tired of advertisements which glorified a particular company's manufacture of some small component of a flashy war machine such as an armored tank or bomber aircraft. More appropriate ads were those which provided civilians practical information for winning the war on the home front.

he Kroger Grocery & Baking Company had good cause to do public spirited advertising in 1943. That year a Chicago municipal court found that one of its stores had been guilty of violating Office of Price Administration (OPA) ceiling price regulations. Specifically a Charles H. Regan had been overcharged for cans of Campbell's condensed asparagus soup on three occasions. On November 19 and on December 11, 1942 he had paid 25¢ for two cans. On December 14 he was charged 38¢ for three cans. OPA regulations in effect as of May 18 stipulated a maximum price of 10¢ for one can, 20¢ for two cans, and 29¢ for three cans.

Kroger objected to the ruling against it and appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. Among other things the company argued that the Federal Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, the legislation which established the OPA, was unconstitutional because it regulated intrastate commerce, an entity under the jurisdiction of state governments. It further argued that the war powers of the United States Congress were being exceeded because price regulation was not essential to the war's successful prosecution. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed to consider Kroger's test case. In 1944 it sustained the lower court's ruling. In its opinion it found the U.S. Congress's war authority practically unlimited "as the power to wage war permits the harnessing of the entire energies of the people in a supreme effort to preserve the nation." The United States Supreme Court upheld the Illinois ruling in 1945.

Points to Consider

How much were the measures suggested going to cost Americans?

Why was this advertisement not more slickly produced?

What would have motivated the Kroger Grocery & Baking Company to issue this ad?

Are the five starred suggestions valid today and if so for which reasons?

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