“Every student of national security law knows about Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (the Steel Seizure Case), in which the Supreme Court invalidated President Truman’s seizure of steel mills to forestall a nationwide strike during the Korean War. Less well appreciated is that industrial confiscation was a familiar practice for Americans in 1952. Although the Roosevelt administration disfavored that policy tool, the U.S. government seized companies during labor disputes more than four dozen times during World War II—usually firms producing war materials. No seizure generated as much controversy as those involving Montgomery Ward & Company.

“On this date in 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered his secretary of commerce to seize Montgomery Ward’s Chicago-based corporate headquarters. Two days later, soldiers carried the company’s scowling CEO from the building, sparking political outcry…”

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