Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Public Opinion in War Time

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Public Opinion in War Time

In terms of rallying public opinion for the war effort, I felt that this editorial cartoon (The New York Times, September 29, 1918) perfectly depicted and represented what the United States was trying to achieve during the First World War. With the smoke in the distance representing the allied successes, Uncle Sam is shown loading additional artillery shells that represent the war bonds needed to fund the war. With the caption beneath the cartoon stating “One Good Shot Deserves Another” it is clearly asking the citizens of the United States for their help and to continue funding the war effort. The previous Liberty Loans can be seen as spent shells on the ground and Uncle Sam is holding the Fourth Loan in his hand that’s about to be loaded into the cannon. Just as this cartoon explains that the Liberty Loans are being used for a good cause, in the written assignment “Public Opinion in War Time,” the author goes to great lengths to explain that the Committee on Public Information is not trying to seek public opinion through tugging at American’s emotions or preaching messages of hate for them to act, but rather, trying to rally public opinion for the war by explaining the “fundamental necessities that compelled a peace-loving nation to take up arms to protect and preserve our liberties” (Creel, 186). Just as this cartoon is trying to demonstrate that the fight for liberty is an important one, the article’s author explains why “it was soon seen that we had to devise departments that would prepare matter for the rural press, for the religious press, for the labor press, for the magazines and so on…we had to gather together the essayists and the brilliant novelists of the land—it was a proposition of touching up the high lights—to lay before the people the truth” (188). “We want a public opinion that springs truth from the heart and soul—that has its root in the rich soil of truth. And this fight is going to win because it is a fight for the truth, because we have nothing to be ashamed of” (191). As the saying goes, the truth will set you free (with a little help from Uncle Sam’s artillery shells).



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