Page 3732

3732 UNIVERSAL HISTORY.-- THE MODERN WORLD

asked why more troops were not sent

to aid the Italian armies. In Russia we

were represented as a nation of plutocrats,

wholly out of sympathy with ideals of

liberty.

Partly in order to counteract such

enemy efforts, the United States established, in April, 1917, the Committee on

Public Information, of which a journalist

named George Creel was made executive

head. This committee had two chief

functions, namely, to act as a censorship

board on news inside the United States

and to furnish information regarding

matters, military and otherwise, both to

Americans and to peoples abroad. Its

activities in regard to the censorship

consisted largely in appealing to the

press of the country voluntarily to refrain

from publishing information that might

be of value to the enemy or embarrass

the Government at home. Control of

communications between the United States

and other countries was vested in a separate

censorship board. As an aid to this

board Congress passed, in June, 1917,

the so-called Espionage Act, which was

subsequently amended and strengthened.

As an organization of publicity the

committee's activities on public information were exceedingly varied. It furnished information to thousands of newspapers, published and distributed millions

of pamphlets, employed hundreds of historians and specialists to write articles

setting forth the historical background

of the war, employed thousands of speakers

to address audiences in various parts

of the country, furnished moving picture

films and lantern slides to theaters, mobilized artists to paint posters and other

pictorial means of appealing to the country,

published a daily newspaper except Sundays and holidays, giving information

regarding the military and civil operations

of the Government, and also carried

on vigorous propaganda in various parts

of the world.

Offices of the committee were opened

in the chief neutral countries as well as

in the countries of the Allies. Pamphlets

and information were furnished to set

forth America's war aims and the national

ideas. Emphasis was also laid upon America's war efforts. Extensive use was made

of moving pictures. Immense sums were

spent in such work, but our agents were

instructed to refrain from bribery or from

the use of any methods that were questionable. A great deal of attention was

bestowed upon preserving confidence and

morale in the Allied countries. The French,

the British, the Italians, and other Allies

were urged to hold fast for America was

coming in such force that the issue could

not be doubtful. After the Italian disaster

in the fall of 1917, when it seemed that

Italian resistance might break down, the

committee stirred up the millions of

Italians living in the United States to

write to their former homes words of hope

and cheer. "For weeks the cables were

loaded down with messages, and the

mails were filled with letters, all telling

of the preparation of America, and calling

for courage and redoubled efforts."

Every effort was made to undermine

the enemy's morale. Getting facts into

the minds of the inhabitants of the Central

Powers would convince them of the

uselessness of the struggle, but this was

no easy matter, for "a censorship cunningly

conceived and rigidly enforced not only

guarded the frontiers, but crushed every

internal attempt to speak or write honestly.

Soldiers and civilians were drugged with

lies about 'Germany's defensive war,' the

'cruel purposes' of the enemy, the collapse

of the Allies, the utter inability of America

to train or transport troops, and the near

approach of a tremendous victory that

would mean world mastery. These lies

had all the force of divisions and it was

as necessary to destroy them as though

each had been a machine-gun nest. And

while it was easy enough to write and

print the 'shrapnel,' it was difficult to

determine the most effective way to fire it."

The French and British had, of course,

long been active in such work as well as

in propaganda in neutral countries. They

and the Americans perfected many ingenious devices for getting information beyond

the enemy's lines. Some truths could be