How We Advertised America:

The First Telling of the Amazing Story of the

Committee on Public Information

That Carried the Gospel of Americanism to Every Corner of the Globe


By George Creel

Harper & Brothers Publishers

New York and London






The CPI was ‘wiped out of existence on June 30, 1919’.   The work of the committee had been discontinued months before.    It wasn’t until Aug 21st that the records were turned over to the Council of National Defense. 


At the time of the CPIs closing the GPO was trying to slaughter the Committee.  This book is to tell CPIs side of the story.



Xi - Sir William Hamilton said, ‘there is nothing great in the world but man, and nothing great in man but mind.’


Xiii – Historians will find that under all the machinery of the war were ‘mental forces that were at work nerving those arms, producing those guns, and producing . . . unconquerable determination.’


The instant reaction of habit and tradition was to create censorship during the war.  It was Mr. Creel’s idea to have the CPI instead.


Xv – we win not just by fighting but by what we are fighting for.


America had to be seen as a man fully armed, yes, but armed and believing in the cause for which he was fighting.


Xvi – the conquering ideas of justice and freedom as expressed in America’s idealism.


It was a mobilization of true appreciation of the rights of man.







3 - The CPI “was the fight for the minds of men, for the ‘conquest of their convictions,:  German Kultur raised issue that had to be fought out in the heart and minds of people. 


4 – “In no degree was the Committee an agency of censorship, a machinery of concealment or repression.  Its emphasis throughout was on the open and the positive.  At no point did it seek or exercise authorities under those war laws that limited the freedom of speech and press.”


It was “a vast enterprise in salesmanship, the world’s greatest adventure in advertising.”


“We did not call it propaganda for that word, in German hands, had come to be associated with deceit and corruption.”


5 – They instituted the ‘war-will.’


They started with the conviction that the war was not the administration’s war, but a war of 100,000,000 people.


7 – They kept in direct touch with the foreign-language press, supplying articles designed to combat ignorance and disaffection.


9 – internationally, they had to reach neutral, allied and hostile nations.


10 – For the first time in history the speech of a national executive were given universal circulation.


11 – They used paper bullets (pamphlets) at the German line.    And, radio and mail and articles were also used internationally. 


Representatives in foreign capitals got movies played.


12 – They sent speakers among the foreign born. 


13 – They tried to find out what the Germans were doing and then tried NOT to do it.






16 – I was “strongly opposed to the censorship bill.”  Because the desired results could be had without it. 


Hope lay in the ‘aroused patriotism of the newspaper men of America.”


17 – It was not servants we wanted, but associates.


Incompetence and corruption, being what they are, they hoped criticism would be honest and constructive.   But even nasty criticism was preferable to suppression.


19 – “The atmosphere created by common knowledge that news is being suppressed is an ideal ‘culture’ for the propaganda of the bacteria of enemy rumors.”


21 – What the government asks of the press:  the 18 point list that follows mostly asks that military secrets are not divulged.


25 – people said the CPI was going to inflict ‘punishment’ on unhelpful speech. But “This was absurd, for we had no authority, and they knew that we had none.”


27 – Not only did they ‘hold aloof from the workings of the Espionage Act, operated by the Postmaster – General and the Attorney – General, but it was even the case that we incurred angers and enmities by the incessant attempt to soften the rigors of the measure.”






29 – On the 3rd of July there were two submarine attacks and Creel tried to get info from Admiral Gleaves. 


30 – Gleaves gave little info as he worried it would reak the cipher.


Secretary Daniels made a statement about the German attacks.


32 – He said the subs were held off and one was likely sunk.   Daniel’s full address were run by papers who  put partisanship aside and exulted in patriotism.


33 – Later it was said to be a ‘Fourth of July Hoax” and media found it full of bombast.


34 – He spoke to the press about it and was upset that all looked healthy while other men were fighting.  The Gleaves cable, that they attained was cryptic.


There follows Gleaves’ full statement and details. 


41 – Here at last was the ultimate word, the complete story, the conclusive proof.  The Secretary of the Navy had not lied, the first joy and enthusiasms of the people were not unjustified.  Even though a month of lying had worked grave injury to the American morale.”  The Senate ignored the vindicating report.


Creel had no intention of letting the matter lay.  There was no censorship, the communiqué he did not distribute was private!






The other charges of inaccuracy against CPI were based on the progress of the aircraft program.


48 – Senator James Reid accused them of making it appear that ‘penguin’ planes were battle – planes. “Our investigation instantly proved the utter falsity of the whole rigmarole.”


49 - Reid’s hatred of Creel was eventually sated. 


50 – Creel lists what a vast amount of material they put out during the War, from films to bulletins to speakers to . . . and only four charges of errors were brought.  That is not a bad record.






51 – “From the very day of its creation to the day of its assassination, the Committee was compelled to endure an incessant fire from behind, working at all times under this handicap of a blind malice that had all the effect of treachery.”


52 – The accusers did not care that there was a war and a war machine, they cared that it was under the direction of a Democrat President and so had to be discredited.


53 – Fully 50% of the House and Senate are above average (predictably), but they seldom figure in print. 


There are two kinds of news: One is truth; the other is tattle.


55 – Pamphlets, created by American historians of the highest standing, were attacked, even though none ever actually went to print.


57 – The attacks of Jonson and Reed were not about what the CPI did, they were personal.


59 – Creel considered Senator Lodge ignorant, not dishonest.


60 – Another foolish move was to call going to Congress ‘slumming.’  Creel regretted it as soon as he said it.


61 – The carefully planned remarks were ignored, only slumming was in the papers.


62 – The fair minded members of Congress accepted the apology.   


There was an attack because the CPI funds came directly from the President’s war fund. Creel asked Wilson, therefore, if he could go directly to Congress to ask for appropriations. It worked. 


67 – In Creel’s defense, one orator said Creel, “was an educator running what might be called a war Chautauqua.”  You want a man with the spirit of ‘service’ and Creel was one.


69 – One would have hoped the funding hearing would have aired truth and so stopped media haranguing . It did not. 






Everything CPI did was new and democratic.  Sisson, Bullard and Poole, quit their real work to join.


71 – The Division of News, fit the volunteer censorship as skin fits the hand.


72 – During the war, there was no room for the ‘scoop’ since war news could not be looked upon in any other light than common property calling for common issuance.


There were opposite worried.  Admirals and Generals had been raised in a school of iron silence. 


What was needed was official machinery for the preparation and release of all news bearing upon America’s war effort – not opinion or conjecture – but daily facts.


73 – The CPI had the right to fact check information it was given.  Secretary Daniels allowed this. 


The media worried this was ‘press agenting’ on a large scale.  This had to be met, not with arguments, but daily demonstrations that it was false.    Their job, “therefore, was to present the facts without the slightest trace of color or bias, either in the selection of the news or the manner in which it was presented.”


They were open 24 hours and every story was mimeographed and put on a table in a pressroom where news associations came regularly.  These stories were all ready for printing if the outlet wanted them.


74 – No attempt was made, however, to prevent independent news gathering.


The news they provided was used 6,000 times a week.


75 – This saved newspapers thousands of dollars in time and in men by the daily delivery of equitable official war news.


76 – They successfully got reporters embedded with troops at a higher rate than General Pershing wanted.   Pershing said it was more than what England or France had.  But, England and France were not sending boys 3,000 miles from home.


77 – With the fleet, they pushed the Navy for more info than they wanted to provide.


78 – They one a battle to give specifics of the war dead, so that parents might know it was not someone else with the same name. 


79 – This divulged no secrets, as the military argued.


81 – The Navy was easier to deal with than the War Department. 


83 – Creel is very proud of the 18 months of CPI and its over 6,000 news releases.  And, that only 3 were directly attacked for inaccuracy.






Donald Ryerson came into Creel’s office and was hired on the spot to run 4 minute men.


85 – They had official introductions to theaters.   There were 75,000 speakers who gave 7,555,190 speeches.

They did not want stereotyped oratory. And, yet they wanted some restraint.   


They gave weekly topics and let the speaker write the speech.


4 minutes was firm as it is the time needed to change to the main film reel.


88 – In June, as other young men, Ryerson left to join the Navy.    McCormick took over.


89 – In every case the speakers were appointed from chairmen of local branches of the State Council of Defense.  The local branch was formed when 3 prominent men wrote their names on stationary. 

The ax fell heavily when a speaker could not keep his audiences’ attention. 


90 – The demand quickly overgrew the supply.  4MM were at lodges, fraternal organizations, labor union, etc. 

Lumber camps too, and Indian reservations. 

There was a church, synagogue and Sunday school branch. Women’s division for matinees.  Colleges too.

There was a bulletin that was distributed to keep people informed.


91 - People were asked to speak in front of a mirror.


The Junior 4 MM was another democratic accidental extension.


92 – They held contests which teachers nearly ran these unsupervised.  Eventually, the Bureau of Education made a bulletin on it.


93 – There was a list of songs to sing also. 


So all totaled, millions of people heard these speeches.  It was nearly free and very cost effective.


94 – And recall that these were carefully practices speeches by the best men in the community aimed at a specific topic. 


96 – We cannot put an estimation on the morale boost this provided.


Wilson praised the effort highly.









People thought the war itself would make people patriotic.  No, Creel says, the war makes it more important than ever that we express our ideals.  Initial war enthusiasm is only mobbish. 


100 – We must remember that prior to the war there was two years of public debate that left it divided. 

101 – Rather than big books, they decided to go in for popular pamphleteering. 

He found Guy Stanton Ford at the University of Minnesota to annotate Wilson’s address to the nation. They made 2.5 million copies of this pamphlet. 


They chronicled Germany’s treachery and intrigue in ‘How we Came to War.”


105 – Even so, there are still people interpreting America from a class or sectional or selfish point of view. 


106 – The academic team made many pamphlets about our ideals.  These also showed the aims, methods and ideals of the dynastic and feudal government of Germany. 


107 – “Taken together, these pamphlets make the most sober and terrific indictment ever drawn by one government of the political and military system of another government.”    It will stand in the court of time, it was serious business.

108 – They also made a War Cyclopedia.  But the second edition never happened. 


109 – The pamphlets went out nearly only by request.    The National Defense Council was especially active in bring it to group’s attention and stoking interest. 


110 - The National Board for Historical Service was helpful.


111 – The National School Service was a 16 page semi-monthly periodical given, free, to public school teachers. 


113 – Another of pamphlets were also put into foreign languages.


114 – We knew that, no matter what their own transplanted prejudices, a great majority of the foreigners were loyal to the land of their children.   Still, they had to be sensitive when making these foreign language pamphlets, as to not aggrieve.

Millions went into foreign homes.


115 – People sent in ideas for sermons, poems and pamphlets.


116 – The draft uncovered illiteracy.  But we do not want to appeal to ignorance or prejudice.  We used a network of academics to provide good information. 





PAGE 117


“Pershing’s Crusaders” and “America’s Answer,” And, “Under Four Flags.” Were feature films they made. 


At first they thought they could just rely on commercial producers.  But, they abandoned this idea.


They got photographers and filmers on the front line. Then they selected what was appropriate for public exhibition.


This created authorized images. 


119 – They wanted to avoid the impression of competition with commercial producers so much was distributed at a nominal price in film news weeklies.


120 – Here is a list of many topics the weeklies covered.


120 – This grew into a desire to make seven reel films. 


121 – They used George Bowles who made a lot of money distributing ‘The Birth of a Nation.”


122 – They used a lot of publicity to make interest in their films. Hundreds of posters and a press campaign of 2 weeks preceded each. 


123 – No other governments made free films.  These were also sold, not given away.   They did sell the extra footage at a dollar a foot to weeklies. 


125 – The films brought in over 850 thousand dollars.


126 – There was also a division that provided film scenarios to studios. 


127 – As a result, many one reel films were made by commercial producers.   They also made some 2 – reel films.   More were on the way when armistice happened.


130 – They also provided photos to newspapers, that were precleared. 


131 – There were also a lot of slide shows made and distributed. They had from 50 – 100 slides.


132 – All totaled, they distributed over 200,000 slides.




PAGE 117


This was the battle to make posters. They used many painters, sculptors, designers, etc. 


134 – Dana Gibson, of Gibson Girl fame, headed this effort.


135 – So odd is Washington that Gibson had to spend days begging to submit sketches from ‘men and women whose names stood for all that was finest in American art.”


136 – The artists felt a great sense of responsibility that bound them into a harmonious unit. They sank personal considerations and received advice.


They were all in the Division of Pictorial Publicity.


138 – NC Wyeth and others also made huger paintings.  Some were sent to the front lines, Pershing thought they were so great.   Almost 300 drawings came from the front lines. 


140 – There wasn’t an artist in the country, man or woman, who didn’t offer the best that was in him.”


A poem to the wartime artist is included. 




PAGE 142


This came about as state fairs wanted exhibits. 


They scraped together guns, hand-grenades, and hundreds of other things designed to show people how their tax dollars were being spent.


They reached 35 state fairs. 


143 – In justifying their own expositions, they said, We know every unhappy letter sent to the front undermines soldiers and makes them poor soldiers. 


144 – Mothers and fathers are buoyed by seeing soldiers march in full stride and regalia, looking good.


145 – Making the exhibitions was a big risk.  They had poor attendance the first day in Chicago due to rain.  The exhibit had trophies captured from the enemy.  35,000 guns and battered remnants of u-boats.


146 – A sham battle was staged and popular. 


147 – Tickets were cheap and half the price went to a War Saving Stamp to jump start that investment habit.  The effort turned a profit for the government.




PAGE 148


148 – “The United States, in the fist months of the war, was an oratorical bedlam.”  More than a dozen speaking bureaus were maintained by the government.


CPI was given control of all this.


149 – Arthur E. Bestor, president of the Chautauqua Institution was put in charge.


It did not so much replace existing bureaus as coordinate them.  It was a “clearinghouse.”


150 – They also used the Chamber of Commerce. 


45 war conferences were held in 37 states. These official gatherings brought together war workers over 2 days. 

They had a card catalogue of over 10,000 speakers, and a select list of 300 really great speakers. 


They created tours.  All were great except Sir Frederick Smith, “who proved only irritating and offensive.”


Of all who spoke in the US, Captain Perigord, the warrior-priest, must be given first rank.


153 – Ida Tarbell, of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense and other government folk also had their tours managed by CPI. 


A speaker for the ‘Friends of German Democracy’ did a tour too.


155 - Bestor also coordinated with the 4mm. 




PAGE 156

They reached out to ad men, but everything was voluntary, so that hurt. 


157 – Still there was a glamour to donation that blinded every one to economic waste. 


Those involved used the “Chicago Plan” that proved effective.  This plan got individuals and groups to donate space to the government. 


Some places volunteered discounts to the government.   Liberty Loans benefited from this big time.


158 – Creating a Division of Advertising, by Wilson, made recruiting very easy.


160 – The International Association of Display men donated billboards and painted signs.


They advertised the need to register 13 million men by September 12th.


161 - They wrote copy for the Division of Pictorial Publicity to illustrate. And there was a Division of Distribution too.


162 – They made contact with 600 foreign papers and got 37,000 posters put in store windows. 


163 – Ticket books known as ‘Smilage’ were bought by the public and donated to soldiers.  Businesses advertised in them.  


Street car space was donated too and they coordinated with the Employment Service Bulletin to get word out via the Labor Department.




PAGE 166

166 – “Americanizer” was a hated word. 


167 – Laws targeted the speaking of foreign tongues.  Despite bitterness, for the most part, foreign birth folk kept loyal. 

Disloyalty wasn’t even a speck’ amongst ‘adopted’ Americans.


168 – The American Protective League under the Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney – General organized 250,000 people to harass immigrants.  We were very counter espionaged. 


500,000 alien immigrants had to register.  Only 6,000 were found to be so disaffected to be detained under presidential warrants.   Only 1,532 arrested under the Espionage Act. 


169 – In all of us is a savage that thrills in the monster chase, man – hunt.  It is attractive to a certain type of mind.  And so many fake arests were made. 


170 – This even though every fire at a munitions plant was blamed on a spy ring.


171 – Among the 6,000 interned many were disloyal.  But, between 10 and 15 percent of our soldiers were of German extraction.


173 – Throughout the effort the CPI maintained contact with over 20 foreign – language groups.  It was inspiring to see their dedication to freedom and their determination to be ‘real’ Americans despite persecution, neglect and misunderstanding. It was depressing to see how little America had done for them.


We do not live by bread alone.


These people were cheated by employers, etc ( a list much like one Kellor would compile).


174 – Iowa had the strictest laws against using foreign tongues in all instruction and churches and public addresses and in public places like trains. 


Ally and enemy languages were not distinguished. 


This just shut people off from contact with American life.


175 – The Czechs were the first to complain.  Over 60,000 fought in the US army.  They adopted a rule that their groups’ members must buy liberty bonds.


In Iowa and Nebraska their meetings were broken up. 

176 – The Danish couldn’t have a loyalty convention because it required Danish.  With many in the army, they resented the idea that using Danish diminished their loyalty.


177 - Polish women banded together to do housework so others could help with munitions.


178 – It was hard to get noted Americans to speak to foreign language groups. 


179 – Of course, many Germans were pro-German at the outset. The CPI attacked this with info and personal contact in meetings to burn away misunderstanding.  

The non-partisan league needed a lot of convincing that this wasn’t a ‘rich-man’s war.’


But the State Public Safety Commission barred CPI speakers and started state terrorism.


180 – Parades were stopped, people were made to hold Liberty Loan rallies in fields, old men and women were dragged from autos. Tar and feather parties were common.  Even deportations happened because sons belonged to non partisan leagues.


As the Nonpartisan league carried legislatures in the North West, this was political. 


The State Councils of Defense did some good work, but they did harm too.


181 – They painted homes yellow.


Patriotic leagues took out ads.  But, their patriotism was jingoism, screams and violence.  They left a trail of anger, irritation and resentment. 


This is a very long chapter.  Interesting. 


183 – But when the smoke has cleared, people will see just how united all of us were to the ‘alter of freedom.’




PAGE 184

Loyalty “among ‘our aliens’ had in it nothing of the spontaneous or the accidental. Results were obtained only by hard, driving work.”


This campaign succeeded because the Committee avoided the professional “Americanizers,” and steered clear of the accepted forms of “Americanization.”  We worked from the inside, not the outside, aiding each group to develop its own loyalty league, and utilizing the natural and existing leaders, institutions, and machinery.”


Again, very Kellor.


185 – Among the helpers is Jacob A. Riis.


Since Norwegians were already doing so much patriotic work, they did not  form a Norwegian group.


187 – The American Friends of German Democracy had to run the auntlet of secret and disloyalty to stupid chauvinism. 


Pro-Kaiser German Americans fought it and murder threats were common. (so much for loyalty!).   The word ‘democracy’ was an offense to the majority of the “better class.”


Pseudo-patriots were worse. 


He did not fully support this group until after investigation of its personnel and purpose. Wow!


189  - About a million pamphlets went out to people of “German blood.”


190 – A weekly bulletin was published in German and English.  Throughout the war the German Bureau kept in closest contact with the German – language press.


They used locals traveling and their letters to propagandize Germans in Germany. 


191 - The author of J’accuse helped them reach German refugees in Switzerland.


In May, 1918  the Division of Work Among the Foreign – Born was formed, with Josephine Roche in charge.  They established contact with 14 racial groups.


192 – These 14 racial groups had 865 foreign language papers.  Only 32 did not use the press services of the CPI.  Often 2 or 3 front page stories came from CPI. 


There were many lectures to fraternal organizations. 


194 – The Russian lectures talked about being saved from utopian Bolshevism.


They planted stories about cooperation with the government on the Red Cross and Liberty Loans. 


195 – They helped people comply with laws by explaining the difference between resident and non-resident aliens and what the distinction meant for taxes withheld from their paychecks.


197 – Some thought an improper declaration would bar them from ever gong back to Europe for a visit. 


Books on American history, civics and the Constitution and getting citizenship were distributed.


198 – Natives and foreign born must mutually educate each other.  “Full information on American life, opportunities, customs, and laws must reach the men and women coming here from foreign lands immediately upon their arrival.  Necessarily it must be in their own language.”


Natives ignorance and prejudice must also be combated.




PAGE 200

Will Irwin had the idea that “The Fourth of July, 1918, should be ‘turned over’ to Americans of foreign birth and their descent for such celebrations as might most fittingly manifest their loyalty to the United States.”


This also served as foreign propaganda, when members of the Central Powers heard Germans, Austrians, and Turks were marching to repudiate autocratic government.


201 - They wrote a letter to Wilson.  They said they wanted to manifest, on July 4th, “special celebrations, our loyalty to this country and to the cause for which we fight.”


Wilson wrote favorably of “your proposed celebration of Independence Day.”


202 – Mr. Irwin and Miss Josephine Roche threw themselves into the arrangements.  “Demonstrations of the thirty – three nationalities took place not only in all the cities and towns, but practically every community where any of these people dwelt.” 


203 – “Reports of parades, pageants, and mass-meetings, resolutions, declarations, and inscriptions on banners.” Were everywhere.


The pilgrimage to Mount Vernon, so beautiful a feature of that inspiring Fourth of July, was my idea.  [italics in original].  I claim the credit and cling to it with a fondness because the occasion stands out in the life of the Committee as one of the few events that swept from start to finish without attack.” 


33 representatives were to go to Vernon, they went on the Mayflower and Wilson greeted them. 


204 – It included Mexicans, Filipinos and Spaniards.


They dressed up as if to meet royalty.  Mr. Wilson is simplicity personified and so as he moved from group to group he suggested they lose their finery. 


207 – The group gave speeches and then the Star – spangled Banner’ was sung and they took the Mayflower back to Washington.  It showed our people that these “Americans by choice,” came here with the same hopes as the Pilgrims had.




PAGE 208


All credit for the official bulletin goes to Wilson.   Creel didn’t want it.  Wilson did.  Wilson was right.


It was denounced as a ‘government organ’ designed to compete with private enterprise.


209 – It did not have opinions or conclusions, or print exclusive stuff.  But, it was a popular news source.


210 – It told the official story of the War daily.  Official pronouncements, laws, etc. All the casualties were listed.  Communiqués from Pershing. 


211 - When government took control of the railroads it spoke to / for these workers.  It also spoke for government agencies with no bulletin.  The Food and Fuel Admin, for example.




PAGE 212


Miss Ida Tarbell was on the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense.   Then it became the Division of Women’s War-work in the Committtee on Public Information.


213 – They answered letters that came from women.  It was a question and answer bureau.  They sent 2,305 stories. 


This was work in national organizations, government departments and decentralized organizations schools and colleges in churches, and by organizations of colored women.


214 - They wrote on the War Department.


215 – and discussed how many were taking newly available men’s work.


216 – They compiled work women could do for the government and mimeographed it. 


217 – The Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs used this information. And, ‘the press of both races used the articles.’ 


The letters they answered ‘were the expressions of the very heart of American womanhood.” 


218 – They answered letters from women who were pissed the government sent my husband to war and / or took my only son. 


Over 50,000 letters were answered. 


219 – Miss Helen Forbes, who worked with the New York Public Library documented and organized an archive about women’s work. Phtots from across the nation. 


220 – This all ended when Congress cut appropriations because this work was already being done by the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense.”


221 – Creel got the blame for the Women’s division.


292 photos werewere furnished to newspapers, showing women actively engaged in war-work. 




PAGE 222

This was the division that took the call that said, “For Heaven’s Sake, please don’t transfer me to someone else.”  And made sure the person got taken care of. 


223 – It was a central office in Washington DC that said where all personnel and agencies were.


It answered over 86,000 inquiries. 


224 – Short-lived was the Division of Syndicate Features, which used the leading novelists, essayists and short story writers in the US.


225 – Their job was to “sell the war” via the story of the war machine in its thousand phases, the story of our boys over there and over here.” 


226 – There was also the Bureau of Cartoons.  They did cartoons and wrote up government announces they wanted to publicize and sent them to 750 cartoonists across the nation. 




PAGE 227

They brought foreign journalists to the US.

They especially brought, to begin, many from Mexico.

228 – They took them across the country. 

229 – “At every point we treated them with absolute frankness, showing everything, concealing nothing, and in the end they were enthusiastic believers not only in our power, but in our idealism.”

The Chamber of commerce helped. 

They also met the President in the White House.


“This speech, more than any other one thing, killed the German lie in Latin America.”


230 – Italian and Scandinavian and Italian journalists followed.


231 – This got countless columns in foreign newspapers.  Everyone carried back the message, “America cannot lose.”


232 – They first countered the idea that American ship building was a bluff.


Each correspondent was under no coercion as to what to write. 


233 – They saw Ford’s company making liberty cylinders.


234 – The journalists were able to discount the ‘calamity howls’ and these ceased to go out on the cables to frighten allies. 






PAGE 237


237 – Word had to get out to allied, neutral and enemy nations.  They had German agents in papers


238 – But much of the news on the continent went via London and Paris at first.


239 –“ It is impossible to estimate the money spend on propaganda by the Germans.” (he uses the P word for them).


Their propaganda was the same in all countries. They said America was a fat, loblolly nation. 


Our war with Mexico was played up as cold-blooded.  Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico were pitied as “America’s Slave Nations.” 


240 – Our strikes were played up in the German press.


We were accused of withholding grain shipments to Switzerland and making French prices higher than they needed to be.


241 – Our liberty bond program a ‘failure.’


242 – “Strangely enough, the Germans gathered much of their most effective material from our own press.”  Including Teddy Roosevelt’s speeches, though they were meant as constructive criticism.


243 – The President soon allowed the start of a news service, which got messages out in 48 hours in every language.


244 – Speaking tours of people living in America of foreign birth were tried. 

245 – We also tried to engage French Universities. We established reading rooms on their campuses. 


We used the 23 principal ‘Loyalty Leagues’ in our nation.


246 – A feature of this phase of the work that had the most far-reaching effect probably was the great Fourth of July celebration.


247 – Will lrwin dropped from heaven.  Then he stayed 6 months, “carrying through the great Fourth of July celebrations that was his idea.”


249 – We had foreign correspondents in every capital of the world.  Usually with a good news editor, a motion – picture expert and a stenographer. Translators were to be gotten locally.




PAGE 250


The international cables were foreign owned and the rates too high.  The navy took over much radio communication.  But, we got into that field, the ‘wireless.’


252 – Our first effort was to serve Russia by wireless, and after much experimentation they did reach Russian stations. But, the Russians grabbed them after the Bolshevik revolution.


Wireless was set up wherever possible.  A navel vessel at Vladivostok relayed wireless programming and from London several hundred words a day.


256 – They worked to get home news to soldiers in the field.  Compub did. 


259 – Compub delivered the President’s speeches world wide. 


260 – When CPI was shut down by the armistice, control of the wireless was not shut down.  They had to put “true reports of the Peace Conference before the people of the world.”




PAGE 261

The foreign mail service were men and women writers who answered queries from foreign news sources with short facts and articles.  They sent out weekly letters as well. 


262 – They also placed articles and translated brochures for foreign papers.


263 – Foreign papers were diminished by the war so they appreciated the copy.


Herein nation by nation is detailed.


265 – A pictorial service also grew in foreign nations.


266 – We often used commercial interests to smuggle in articles and photos.


Reading rooms and brochures were used too.


267 – We also had a Foreign Press Bureau.


268 – The was an educational press which sent out articles. 


269 - We let the world know we were the worlds great reserve of ‘food, fuel, and textiles.’. 


270 – Our religious press countered the lie that Catholics were being prosecuted. 


270 – Jewish life and medical press stories were also carried in different languages.




PAGE 273


To millions unable to read, this was important. Films were either given to distributors or theaters were rented.  Sometimes an automobile with  films and projector went town to town.


274 – There were war films but also films that showed America at home. Our social progress, our cities our factories, our altruism and humanity.  Patriotic celebrations, women voting, parades, baby contests, eashore scenes, athletic games: “and everything else that threw any light on us as a people.”


275 – But foreigners really wanted comedy and dramatic film.  Pickford, Fairbanks and Chaplin. 


But the Germans displayed these for their propaganda too. 


276 – They used CPI power to expedite the shipment of films, which required permits.


1) All shipments, it was agreed, needed to be at least 20 percent educational.

2) If an exhibitor refused to show the committee war pictures, they could receive nothing else either.

3) And that no US films would be sold to anyone who was using German films.


Soon we shut out the Germans.


France, England, Italy and Mexico were controlled thereby.


277 - After the Bolsheviks we used the YMCA to get films in.


278 – We were reduced to partial films and then stopped, we then went after the East Siberian market via Vladivostok.   Again YMCA was used.


279 – Big efforts were made to reach the Chinese and Japanese markets via film too.


280 – In Peru most were peasant and illiterate and some areas were only reachable via burro through mountain trails.   The American red cross helped here. 


Thrillers were kept out.  Jesse James would make us look bad.


281 – Harmful film was barred from export.


Sometimes the film was redeemable if the title and some scenes were changed.  In no case did a producer refuse to make the requested changes.


During the war more than 8,000 films were reviewed, the greater percentage going forward. 




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What happened to the Germans was an utter spiritual collapse.


284 – German censorship was so complete that it ‘crushed every internal attempt to speak or write honestly.’  Soldiers and civilians were drugged with lies about Germany’s defensive wars” and the enemies, ‘cruel purposes.’. 


285 – They wrote German looking copy in German. 


Planes were needed for real bullets.


286 – The French developed a rifle grenade that carried leaflets about 600 feet in a favoring wind. And a shell that carried 4 – 5 miles.


Also paper balloons filled with coal gas could remain in the air for 20 hours. 


Kites over trenches were tried.  They treated the paper so rain wouldn’t ruin it.


287 - And a large balloon with a timed-release mechanism was developed but only used a bit due to armistice.


288 – When we got into Russia, we found the President’s 14 points plastered on walls.


American virtue, German horror and the Presidents’ speeches were always topics.


289 – The Germans made it the death penalty for all seen reading our material. This means they were effective.








PAGE 401


401 – The Peace Treaty was a ‘failure in advertising.’


Creel, however, says this failure was not CPI’s fault.  And had the President kept CPI for this effort he would have been savaged.


Within 24 hours of the armistice, CPI was decommissioned.  Creel firmly believed this was for war time only. 


402 - War is a simple fact and has one objective, peace is far from simply and has many objectives.   CPI would have been mired in controversy.


Creel was to be kept on but vigorously protested.


403 – It was allowed that all media would have access to the peace process.


The Foreign Cections of CPI had not yet been demobilized.  Creel went to Paris to personally oversee the demobilization.  The President offered Creel passage on his boat.


404 – He had to check books and pay bills in Europe.   But Reed and Johnson and others started their ‘full – mouthed baying, and the press , with equal recklessness and enthusiasm, joined in the hue and cry.”


Creel was painted as a censor and news control and interpretation. 


406 – This was not true as Creel had no power.  But, plans for ‘handling’ the press were leaked.


407 – He did, put lots of correspondents on the Wilson’s boat to Europe. 


Papers howled of this publicity and collusion with media.


410 – Rumor was the reports housing was also aided by Creel and the amount of info to leave Europe via cable, limited.


411 – Creel says Hiram Johnson’s charges are false.   He knew reporters would have a hard time so he had his man Sisson find them apartments. 


412 – The typewriters and desks were for all foreign correspondents.


413 – The committee also arranged for correspondents to follow Wilson’s Christmas break.


And, yes, Creel attended the second of the President’s daily briefings and urged they be regular.  But, this is not collusion it is helping.  He aided the press in getting news.


414 – And as the cables to the US were crowded, CPI volunteered to manage the shipping of info over the congested cables.   This meant Wilson’s and official dispatches went first and no duplicates.


Via negotiations CPI got bandwidth on the French cables.


415 – But they did no censorship.  England France and Italy also provided ways for US news to get across.


416 – “The Peace Treaty failed because the press itself failed in its duty of proper information, and the press failed because it interested itself only in the personal and obvious, not in the educational and interpretive.  And, the reason for this misplaced emphasis goes back to the bitter fact that partizans made the Peace Treaty a party question instead of letting it shine out as a nation’s pledge.”




PAGE 417


When CPI was shut, the New York and Paris offices were kept alive.


And the American Peace Commission wanted some of the machinery kept operable.


In the Middle of Europe enemy censorship had prevented a complete approach to selling the war.  They needed once and for all to sell the idealism of America and the blood-guilt of Germany. 


418 – Facts were needed.


They hired a fellow who was very pro the Bohemian National Alliance. 


419 – They journeyed to Prague for 4 days. Sleeping on seats.


420 – One thrill though was when soldiers reached the soil of ancient Bohemia, dismounted and kissed the soil and sang the national hymn of Bohemia.


421 – In Prague they met the President  and tuned up the government wireless station to receive from Paris. 


They distributed and read pamphlets about ‘The German – Bolshevik Conspiracy’ and more.  They showed the monstrous plans of Germany.


424 – It seems much the same was done in Hungary.


425 – They printed their pamphlets in Czech, Polish, Magyar, Croation, German and Ukrainian with arrangements for distribution in the schools, press, and to leaders of thought. They used the wireless in Cracow too.


425 – 6 “As far as humanely possible, we had carried the message of America to Mittel Europa!” 


They also told of the starvation they had seen, once in Paris.  This sped up food relief to Czechoslovakia and Poland.



PAGE 427



When returning to US the complete destruction of the Committee on Public Information was nearly done.


428 – They were not even given an auditing force assurance.  The Paris and New York offices were not to be closed until June 15th. 


They turned over more than 2 million dollars to the Treasury and yet did not have enough money to pay their final bills.  They wanted to use their own earnings for this purpose and Congress refused.

So on June 30th, CPI flatly ceased to be.


429 – They had to use army trucks to move all of their papers to the Fuel Administration building. It was just piled in and dumped on the floor.


Then the books were loaded on trucks and dumped onto the floor of the Council of National Defense.


430 – Then the New York World, on October 30th, accused them of ‘Gross neglect.” 

No paper bothered to ask Creel for comment, as this was picked up across the nation.


431 – This was a fabrication, the Council of National Defense had made no such charge. 


432 – There was the charge that the committee had gone over the $1,000 allowed for travel expenses from Congress.  This was from the President’s fund, so had no limit and was used for people traveling to Europe for long times. 


433 – After two years of thankless drudgery Creel and his associates were shamed a incompetents, deserters and thieves.   And, he was not to worry about it.


The domestic books were very good. The Foreign section books were harder to verify.


Once the papers were organized, last words of the book, “Every dollar was found to have its proper voucher, and in addition, care and competence stood proved in the expenditure of every single cent.”