Who's Who - George Creel
George Creel (1876-1953) headed the U.S. propaganda effort during World War One.
Born on 1 December 1876 in Lafayette County, Creel's career began as a newspaper reporter in 1894 for the Kansas City World. Within five years he was publishing his own newspaper, the Kansas City Independent.
By the time the U.S. entered World War One in April 1917 Creel had begun to establish something of a reputation as an investigative journalist (or 'muckraker' to some), having in the interim acted as editor for the Rocky Mountain News (1911).
A firm and outspoken supporter of Woodrow Wilson during the presidential election campaigns of 1912 and 1916 it was therefore unsurprising that Creel should be chosen to head Wilson's Committee on Public Information (CPI) in 1917, although given his outspokenness his selection was controversial among Wilson's Republican opponent (notably Henry Cabot Lodge, Wilson's ongoing political nemesis).
While Creel acted to reduce the level of anti-German feeling in the country over the course of the following two years with unbiased news reporting, he nevertheless devoted his not inconsiderable energies to ensuring full public backing for the U.S. war effort.
To this end he extended the scope of his remit from Wilson to include all aspects of the U.S. media, including film, posters, music, paintings and cartoons (in some ways reminiscent of Charles Masterman's earlier efforts in Britain). Creel also arranged for the recruitment of 75,000 so-called 'Four Minute Men' - people who volunteered to speak for four minutes in public locations around the country in favour of the war effort).
Both of President Wilson's post-Armistice visits to Europe were overseen by Creel's department, with the result that Wilson was greeted with open adulation wherever he went. Creel's efforts also ensured a high degree of popularity in Europe for Wilson's Fourteen Points.
Domestically however Creel's irascible outspokenness ensured he found enemies among Wilson's conservative opponents, including Lodge. If anything, Creel's aggressive campaigning on behalf of Wilson for the latter's Fourteen Points galvanised U.S. home opposition, and certainly contributed to the ultimate rejection in Congress of the Treaty of Versailles.
Following the war he published his memoirs, accurately entitled How We Advertised America in 1920, and went on to publish over a dozen more works.
He served with the San Francisco Regional Labor Board in 1933 and as chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Works Progress Administration two years later.
In 1934 Creel stood - unsuccessfully - for the Democratic Party's nomination for governor of California (the author Upton Sinclair instead received the nod), thereafter devoting much of his time to writing.
He died on 2 October 1953 in San Francisco at the age of 76.
Click here to read one of Creel's June 1917 press releases detailing the protective role of U.S. naval destroyers in protecting Atlantic troop transport vessels.
The Russian war ace Alexander Kozakov claimed 20 victories during the war; his nearest compatriot, Vasili Yanchenko, claimed 16.
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