Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

By James R. Mock; Cedric Larson | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
"THE FIGHT FOR THE MIND OF MANKIND"

GORGE CREEL'S first job was to win the battle of the inner lines. Incidents in that triumphant campaign have been described in preceding chapters, and it is that work for which the CPI is best known--with reason. If the Wilsonian doctrine had not won at home, Marshal Foch might conceivably have lost in France--or at least would have confronted a situation vastly different from that which he saw when the German envoys, under a flag of truce, pushed through the forest of Compiègne to learn the Armistice terms of the Allies.

The battle at home was the crucial battle for the CPI to win.

But mobilization of public opinion in this country was but part of the great undertaking. When George Creel said he was engaged upon a "fight for the mind of mankind," he was not merely boasting. The CPI extended its work of education, its propaganda for the Wilsonian world program, straight around the globe. In little more than a year Creel and his associates-- notably Arthur Woods, Will Irwin, Edgar Sisson, and H. N. Rickey, successive directors of the CPI Foreign Section--built up a worldwide system of foreign agents and kept them supplied with a steady stream of American news and other American propaganda. By the time of the Armistice, the name of Woodrow Wilson, and a general idea that he was a friend of peace, liberty, and democracy, were nearly as familiar in some of the remote places of the earth as they were in New York, St. Louis, or San Francisco.

The adulation that the President received en route to the Peace Conference was at least in part a tribute to the thor-

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