Propaganda During Wwi Essay, Research Paper
Propaganda is a term used to describe the deliberate spreading of ideas and rumors in order to gain what one wants. It is most commonly used by governments and big businesses in order to get the public to believe what they desire. There was a great deal of propaganda taking place in the United States during its involvement in the first World War. (Miller, 47)
In 1917 Woodrow Wilson set up the Commitee on Public Information in the U.S. The goal of this committee was to get the rest of the world to believe in America’s capabilities at the time. Part of the propoganda being spread at this time was anti-German. This led to the removal of all things German from American culture. Art created by German Artists was taken down from museums, and music from germany by composers such as Bach, and Beethoven was seldom heard. This committee was responsible for creating movies and literature that influenced many against Germans during the first world war. Movies like “The Beast of Berlin” and “To Hell with the Kaiser” were specifically fabricated by the government and were received with widespread popularity among the American citizens. This made life difficult for many people of german heritage living in the U.S. at this time. They faced a great deal of negativity from the people who were being conditioned to dislike all of Germany, even its food.. Propaganda was put into action by the government to help justify its attack on Germany which brought the United States into the war. The country could not successfully fight unless it got its people and other countries to support its cause.
The way the government was dealing with opposers to its beliefs during this time was harsh. Those suspected of treason were dealt with immediately to prevent an possible spread of radical ideas that could lead to an uprising. The country was strong during this period but not as strong as it wanted to be in order to secure itself. The Americans also educated many people in Mexico with the intention of publicising its war efforts. Teachers from the United States taught many Mexicans english so that had propaganda spread its ideas easily.
Probably the most dramamtic effort by the goverment was the Sedition Act passed in 1917. This law stated that whoever went against the goverment and was suspected of attempting to help the enemy could be fined up to $10,000 and/or serve up to 20 years in prison. During this tense time in American History, many new immigrants were suspected of these crimes and put to jail because they could not afford such fines. They often had trouble speaking the language and defending themselves.prison.The law also made it a crime for Americans to decline when asked to serve in the Armed Forces. The U.S. army was relatively weak and desperately needed as many soldiers as they could get. This law raised a great deal of controversy in its day and was later repealed in 1921. (American Tradition)
Propaganda is not something that can be looked at as a high point of the United States policies. It is a deceitful way of getting people to do what you want to without them knowing the whole truth. It’s ironic that such a democratic country would choose to be so secretive. In a time of war however such drastic measures are often needed to protect a country’s best interest.
Miller, Clyde. The Process of Persuasion. New York: Crown Publishers, 1946.
“Sedition Act of 1917″,http://www.Encarta.Com
“Propaganda” The American Tradition. Ohio: Bell & How, 1984.