Throughout the Twentieth Century, America has faced its ups and downs economically. Although being at war requires major sacrifice and hard work, the resulting factor is an economic boom period of high employment and consumerism. World War I was a prime example. War created a whole new industry in the production of the necessary commodities soldiers needed overseas in combat. Small towns, like Chicopee, flourished into booming cities through war industry factories providing jobs, spawning an influx of immigrants or other folk seeking employment to the city. The industry that was the buttress to the economy of Chicopee in World War I was the Savage Arms Company, which provided firearms to American and British soldiers.
Savage Arms produced the Lee Enfield and Thomson Sub-Machine gun for American soldiers in World War I and World War II. The rifle was the most utilized infantry weapon for American soldiers in combat, so production needed to be with haste and in high surplus. The demand for rifles opened a lucrative window for the Savage Corporation. Savage Arms was a company originally designed only for the production and sales of sporting guns. The company was successful in their time as a casual sporting weapons company, but it was boosted to a higher level when they received the call to produce weapons for the war. (7)
Job opportunities widened for citizens occupying industrial New England towns like Chicopee. During World War I alone, eighty-eight percent of the capital earned from arms production in the United States came from small manufacturers in New England, while sixty seven percent of all the arms workers in the U.S were located in New England. Savage Arms was one of the central New England arms companies that filled these percentages. The percentages are significantly different in the decades preceding the World War I era, displaying the amount of work that went into arms production during the War. Since the product being made was so valuable to its respective epoch, the value of arms in the decade increased twenty percent from the preceding decade. The Savage Arms Corporation, as well as the United States arms industry as a whole was a booming success in this period. The capital made from U.S arms went from thirteen million the decade before WWI to fifty-one million in the WWI era. Joshua Stevens and Arthur Savage became wealthy men off of their venture and helped contribute to the flourishing of Chicopee. (6)
The Savage Company’s production and sales can act as a microcosm for the whole nation during World War I. In the World War I era, the average of all U.S arms manufacturer’s wage increased over five hundred dollars from $653 to $1181. The wealth was allotted to a plethora of people since the number of U.S arms workers increased from 6,003 to 11,287 during World War I. The population of Chicopee faced a major increase during the War, most likely due to the attractive job opportunity offered at Savage Arms. Factory work allowed the employee to live a modest lifestyle. Money was being put into the hands of local citizens at work who would not have had the employment opportunity had there not been a war, allowing them to contribute to the local economy. Chicopee became a more established city from the wartime production in World War I and World War II. (6)