Sample Essay on The Creel Committee and the World War I

The Creel Committee and the World War I

As the first wartime propaganda agency in the US, the Creel Committee, which was also known as the Committee on Public Information (CPI), exercised all popular media groups, as well as sophisticated target audience approach to explain about the incoming war to a split and doubtful nation. Led by George Creel, a former journalist and President Woodrow Wilson’s friend, the widespread CPI wartime propaganda efforts towards the Americans, as well as foreign spectators, managed to endure historical controversy. WWI historians credited the Creel Committee for convincing Americans to support the idea of entering the war. This study will explain how the Creel Committee managed to unify the US as a nation during the WWI.

Many American citizens perceived European nations as suspects, as they were continuously engaged in armed conflicts, which were seen as lack of morals. The Creel Committee was established as a self-regulating agency of the US government change the American people’s opinion concerning involvement in WWI. The Congress has already approved the war declaration, which permitted the US to engage in WWI. The signing of Executive Order 2594 enabled President Woodrow Wilson to establish the CPI to drum up public opinion on the war effort (Howard 5). The committee, led by George Creel, worked for more than two years through exercising every existing medium to create passion among American citizens that going to war was the best option. The committee preferred to use the propaganda method to attain its goals.

Many people continued to ask why the federal government opted to establish the CPI, despite the nation’s stand on neutrality and noninvolvement. For Creel, the CPI had an aim of uniting the pluralist society to support war effort, in addition to appealing to many men to join the armed forces so that civilians can support their efforts (Wells). A few members in the Senate and House did not support the declaration of war since they represented areas occupied by Germans and Austrians. In addition, isolationists supposedly believed that the US should maintain its earlier stand of noninvolvement, as the nation might divert its attention to war, rather than economic, political and social restructuring.

The CPI went with its directives by influencing civilians to encourage other civilians to desist from antiwar remarks, antidraft activities, and ignorant spreading of information to spies. The Creel Committee attempted to achieve this through propaganda of portraying Americans in the appropriate manner while the enemies of war were depicted in the worst possible manner.  The propaganda purported that to engage in the war would benefit the country in numerous ways.

During the time that the US spent in the war, the CPI utilized newspapers, magazines, songs, movie theaters and posters, to ensure that every citizen would receive the message concern the country’s intention to engage in war. The committee utilized music to discourage civilians from performing unpatriotic popular songs. The committee had also placed advertisements in newspapers and magazines to reach civilians who are ardent readers. One branch of CPI that took the role of checking how the media reported the war had sponsored two cartoons and an editorial cartoon, in an attempt to woo the media to avoid releasing stories that could be useful to the enemies of the US (McFadden 3). Those who were not avid readers had to be appealed through posters. Posters also attracted civilians who could not read fluently.

One of the most fascinating novelties in the mass propaganda was the use of Four Minute Men. In order to spread propaganda in movie theaters, the CPI recruited thousands of Four Minute Men to talk for four minutes to the audience before the commence of the movies, or when the movie went for a break. This group managed to recruit 75,000 members, and succeeded to offer 755,190 speeches in various movie theaters in 5,200 communities all over US (Jackall 16). The four-minute rule had to be strictly observed to avoid annoying theater managers. A few members of Four Minute Men were women, and they managed to attend women’s organizations to deliver their speech.

Although President Wilson doubted the outcomes of the CPI, the propaganda was quite effective. Many Americans believed that the war would assist them attain civil and political rights that they had been denied for long. However, the propaganda went hysterical, as German Americans became a target for vigilante groups. Several states banned the teaching of German language in their schools while common German words were totally discarded from the American language. The federal government was unable to minimize some sorts of vigilantism, thus, becoming the victim of CPI’s propaganda. The war on immigration was made worse by hysteria, as attempt for homogenization resulted to harsh restrictions to immigrants.

In conclusion, the Creel Committee represented the source of contemporary American wartime propaganda (Cull, Culbert and Welch 99). The main intent of the committee was to mobilize American citizens to support the war. The committee managed to design its propaganda, in addition to discouraging reports that could express conflicting opinions. Through George Cree, the CPI utilized numerous media, which included newspapers, magazines, posters, movie theaters, and social groupings, to reach almost every corner of the country to drum up support of American citizens to war. Very few citizens dared to criticize the government policy of propaganda. However, the propaganda elicited contempt to some people, particularly those who originated from the American enemies in the war.

Works Cited

Cull, Nicholas J, David H. Culbert, and David Welch. Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2003. Print.

Howard, Christopher Eric. Propaganda against Propaganda: Deconstructing the Dominant Narrative of the Committee on Public Information. Diss. Appalachian State University, 2014.

Jackall, Robert. Image Makers: Advertising, Public Relations and the Ethos of Advocacy. Chicago: Univ Of Chicago Press, 2003. Print.

McFadden, Paul. “American Propaganda and the First World War: Megaphone or Gagging Order?” eSharp, Issue 19: Reality/ Illusion (2012): 1-32.

Wells, Robert A. “Propaganda at Home (USA).” 1914-1918 Online, International Encyclopedia of the First World War, October 8, 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2015 http://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/propaganda_at_home_usa