Archives On The Air 170: The Montgomery Ward Seizure—Montgomery Ward Records

Nov 21, 2019

President Roosevelt was faced with labor strikes at home during World War II. The strikes delayed production for the war.

In 1942 FDR created the War Labor Board. They negotiated labor issues to avoid strikes.

Sewell Avery was the head of Montgomery Ward. In 1944 he would not work with the unions or the Labor Board. Workers were on strike for months. FDR sent the National Guard to Chicago and seized control of Montgomery Ward.

Avery tried to fight the seizure in federal court. He yelled at the Attorney General "To hell with the government, you... New Dealer!" President Truman ended the company's seizure and the court case in 1945.

Explore more retail history in the Montgomery Ward Records at UW's American Heritage Center.