Studies in American Political Development

The Military in American Political Development

War, Tropical Disease, and the Emergence of National Public Health Capacity in the United States

Daniel Sledge 

The University of Texas at Arlington


This article analyzes the emergence of national public health capacity in the United States. Tracing the transformation of the federal government's role in public health from the 1910s through the emergence of the CDC during World War II, I argue that national public health capacity emerged, to a great extent, out of the attempts of government officials to deal with the problem of tropical disease within the southern United States during periods of mobilization for war.



  I thank Richard Bensel, Theodore Lowi, Elizabeth Sanders, two anonymous reviewers, and the editors of Studies in American Political Development for their input and feedback. Thanks to Jenna Green for her ongoing help and also to George, David, and Carolyn Sledge for reading various drafts.