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Created in 1917, the first State Council of Defense served as South Carolina’s public relations and propaganda arm during World War I. Appointed by South Carolina governor Richard I. Manning III, David R. Coker served as Chairman on the state level. Under his leadership, each county established a council of defense to support the war effort. In 1918, after internal reorganization, the State Council of Defense devoted its efforts to curtailing criticism of the war and investigating pro-German sentiments. Once the war was over, the first State Council of Defense came to an end.

The second Council of Defense was created in 1941 (now titled Council for- Defense) to prepare and protect the state and its people against possible enemy invasion. It considered how facilities of various existing state-wide non-governmental groups might be used in the defense program. The initial time frame for the council was two years. However, the time was extended in 1944 to last the extent of the war (World War II).

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