When World War I ended in disillusionment, with much of Europe in chaos and ruin, many Progressives blamed Woodrow Wilson. It was he, in the end, who betrayed the cause of democracy. Only after the war did John Dewey and other Progressives admit that the Allies had never championed democratic values at all, but had gone to war from selfish motives of national aggrandizement.


By the time Woodrow Wilson sent American troops into combat, he believed that the war in Europe was nearing an end. He was certain that the Americans would hasten, not delay, the finale, and that their presence would enable him to exert considerable influence over peace negotiations.[1] Since four years of the most destructive war in history had shown that Europeans could no longer govern themselves without assistance, Wilson took on the responsibility to establish a lasting peace. It was imperative that he do so. For Americans, a war that had begun in the vagaries of Central European politics had become a revolution “to make the world safe for democracy.” Only that accomplishment could now redeem the hardship, bloodshed, and misery that the war had caused.

To be sure, Americans did not suffer as had the European belligerents. No one in the United States starved to death as the result of food shortages or died of treatable diseases because of the want of medicine. The war effort nonetheless obliged Americans to make far greater sacrifices than any previous crisis they had faced. At the outset of American involvement, Wilson and other members of the administration tried hard to sustain devotion to the war with a minimum of legal coercion, relying instead on patriotic appeals to invite voluntary compliance. Yet, Wilson also understood that prosecuting the war demanded a national consensus and that he, as president, would have to create it if he were to win and hold the support of the American people.

The determination to win the war concealed a fear that it might be lost not on the battlefields of France but on the home front. Victory depended on unanimity of opinion and conformity of belief. To discredit, punish, and ultimately eliminate antiwar sentiment became the first order of business. “Woe be to the man or group of men who stands in our way,” Wilson enjoined Congress in June of 1917.[2] Congress reinforced the president’s warning with a series of laws enacted to quell opposition to the war effort and to silence criticism of the government. The Alien Act, the Alien Enemies Act, the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act, and the Trading with the Enemies Act granted the federal government extraordinary power to indict, fine, or imprison anyone who disparaged or impeded the conduct of the war. Not surprisingly, the government used its authority to harass radical critics and organizations. In one of the more notorious cases, the courts sentenced the socialist editor and former congressman, Victor L. Berger, who had been born in Austria-Hungary, to twenty years in federal prison for violating the Espionage Act. When Berger’s newspaper, the Milwaukee Leader, printed a number of essays opposed to the war, the Post Master General, Albert Burleson, rescinded its second-class mailing privileges, thereby putting on notice any publication that dared to “impugn the motives of the government and thus encourage insubordination.”[3]

Eugene V. Debs’s relentless condemnation of the war garnered Wilson’s undying enmity. In an address delivered at Canton, Ohio on June 16, 1918, Debs urged resistance to the draft. The speech prompted his arrest on ten counts of sedition, for which crime he was sentenced to ten years in prison and disenfranchised for life. The severity of the judgment was a direct consequence of Debs’s anti-war activities. Acknowledging Debs’s courage and eloquence at trial, Judge David C. Westenhaver still condemned him as one “within our borders who would strike the sword from the hand of this nation while she is engaged in defending herself against a foreign and brutal power.”[4] Despite appeals to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer that came from former socialists Allan Benson, Charles E. Russell, and Frank Walsh, all of whom now endorsed the war, Wilson refused to void Debs’s conviction even after the war had ended. He worried lest releasing Debs from prison would embolden his opponents in the coming debate over the peace treaty.

From Paris, Wilson had cabled Joseph Tumulty, his private secretary, that he would be “willing to grant a respite in the case of Eugene V. Debs,” although he doubted “the wisdom and public effect of such an action.”[5] Palmer, meanwhile, advised the president strongly against permitting Debs to go free. Debs had defied the administration and thwarted the law, Palmer reminded Wilson. He belonged in prison, at least for the time being. Already inclined to agree, Wilson needed little convincing. His own animosity toward Debs had not subsided. He wrote that “while the flower of American youth was pouring out its blood to vindicate the cause of civilization, this man, Debs, stood behind the lines sniping, attacking, and denouncing them…. This man was a traitor to his country and he will never be pardoned during my administration.”

If Wilson remained adamant about keeping Debs in prison, Palmer was unnecessarily vindictive. Notwithstanding Debs’s poor health, Palmer revoked his visiting and mailing privileges just before the Wilson administration left office. Only on December 23, 1921 did President Warren G. Harding at last commute Debs’s sentence to time served. Debs was released from the federal penitentiary in Atlanta on Christmas Day.[6]

Of even more vital significance than the individuals the government prosecuted, the information it withheld, and the ideas it censored were the views that the Wilson administration sanctioned and disseminated. Eight days after he had requested a declaration of war, on April 14, 1917, Wilson issued an executive order setting up the Committee on Public Information. The ostensible purpose of the CPI was to explain the rationale for, and the progress of, the war.

Wilson intended the CPI to counteract European propaganda, which he rightly surmised had distorted both truth and reality. But under the leadership of journalist George Creel, the CPI itself quickly became the unofficial organ of American propaganda, assuming the task not only to enlighten but also to manipulate and control public opinion.

Creel implored advertising executives, newspapermen, and academics to commend the war to the American people at any and every opportunity. He supplied public schools with tracts written to illustrate for students the importance of loyalty and the perils of disobedience. State legislatures and local school boards complied by removing German language courses from the curriculum, discarding, and even burning, books by German writers or about German history and culture, and forbidding the study of German literature and the performance of German music.

Fifty years after the war, Richard M. Weaver clarified the intent of these and similar actions, which had seemed so necessary and so patriotic at the time. According to Weaver, the war had gone a long way toward limiting the independence of mind, enabling representatives of the Wilson administration to promote and excuse conduct that decent and honorable Americans might, under ordinary conditions, have regarded as atrocities:

The advance toward totalism in this war certainly appears… in the way in which every phase of life—economic, financial, social, and cultural—was drawn into the struggle and made ancillary to the war. To an unprecedented degree the idea was promoted that the nation should become one, with no thought but to kill and destroy. Those of mature age may recall the hysteria whipped up in this country by President Woodrow Wilson, which went even to the point of banning the playing of German music.[7]

Creel in the meantime exhorted volunteers, whose number eventually swelled to 75,000, to speak in favor of the war, often lecturing audiences in theaters during intermission. These “Four-Minute Men,” so called in part because they vowed to speak for only four minutes and in part to evoke the dedicated “Minute Men” of the War for Independence, told Americans of the myriad ways in which they could serve their country and defy attempts to undermine its fighting spirit. Beyond joining the armed forces, the possibilities were abundant. Americans could roll bandages for the Red Cross. They could work in the canteens that operated near military bases. They could knit sweaters, scarves, or socks for enlisted men. They could, of course, purchase bonds to help the government finance the war.

It was virtually inevitable that the CPI came to focus on, and to excite animus toward, those who questioned the legitimacy of the American crusade against Germany and the Central Powers. Creel portrayed the men and women who voiced opposition to the war as un-, and even anti-, American. They constituted a dangerous presence that, if it could not be purged, could at least be contained and frustrated. Previous debates about the freedom of the seas, the rights of neutral countries in a time of war, and the prerogatives of American citizens to travel in safety, faded into insignificance once the United States entered the conflict. A hatred of all things German, and an insistence on expunging all trace of German culture from American life, replaced such concerns. Offering an invocation before the House of Representatives, the evangelist Billy Sunday expressed the popular attitude toward Germany when he prayed: “Thou knowest, O Lord, that no nation so infamous, vile, greedy, sensuous, bloodthirsty ever disgraced the pages of history…. If you turn hell upside down, you will find ‘Made in Germany’ stamped on the bottom.”[8] Sunday did not comment on the quality of German workmanship, but made it clear that to him, and to many of his fellow countrymen, Germany was a debased nation, a pariah, a blight on the civilized world.

Efforts to forge a trustworthy and dutiful populace increasingly came to rely on intimidation and force. At the very least, Creel supposed, these methods would produce outward conformity; at best, they guaranteed absolute submission. In addition to fighting the Germans, Creel declared, the United States was in “a fight for the minds of men, for the ‘conquest of their convictions,’ and the battle-line ran thorough every home in every country.” Creel knew exactly what he had to do. He applied the Progressive tactic of remaking the individual. “What we had to have,” he insisted, “was no mere surface unity, but a passionate belief in the justice of America’s cause that should weld the people of the United States into one white-hot mass instinct with fraternity, devotion, courage, and deathless determination.”[9] No wonder then that those who considered themselves good and faithful Americans came to look with suspicion on all who protested the war, or who merely displayed insufficient enthusiasm for it.

Creel and his associates at the CPI set out to fashion the efficient and homogeneous society that the Progressives had long envisioned. They sought, above all else, to eradicate individualism. “Patriotism” was not “an instinct,” Creel argued. “It cannot live side by side with a stark individualism that preaches the doctrine of every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.”[10] Creel embodied the many complexities of Progressive thought. Without hesitation, he exploited the power of the central government to restore a provincial America of small towns—an America that was easygoing, hospitable, unchanging, and democratic, an America shorn of class antagonisms and sectional rivalries. There must be “no dividing line between the rich and poor,” he announced, “and no class distinctions to breed mean envies.” As Creel made clear, war had bestowed the perfect opportunity to abolish all of the inequities that threatened to disrupt the American way of life:

When I think of the many voices that were heard before the war… interpreting America from a class or sectional or selfish standpoint, I am not sure that, if the war had to come, it did not come at the right time for the preservation and reinterpretation of American ideals. A decade or two later it might have found us unconsciously stratified in our own social organization and thinking, the prison-walks [sic: walls?] of class consciousness shutting out visions of our nation’s youth.[11]

The entry of the United States into the European war, Creel implied, may have averted a national disaster.

Recent immigrants and ethic Americans kindled a special mistrust, but they also presented a unique challenge. “There is a wonderful chance in this country to weld the twenty-five or thirty races which compose our population into a strong, virile and intelligent people,” intoned Alexander Whiteside, who had helped to organize the Liberty Loan campaign throughout New England. These diverse peoples would form a “splendid race of new Americans.”[12] Under the direction of Frances Kellor, a New York social worker, the Committee for Immigrants in America coordinated with the Federal Bureau of Education to launch the War Americanization Plan, while the CPI instituted the Division of Work with the Foreign-Born both to excite a love of country and to monitor foreign-language publications for the slightest hint of subversion.

Creel always denied that he resorted to lies to invigorate a people about to embark on a heroic national mission. “A free people cannot be told what to think,” he conceded. “They must be given the facts and permitted to do their own thinking.”[13] At the same time, Creel extolled the benefits of censorship, especially when it was voluntary. The “desired results,” he affirmed, “could be obtained without paying the price that a formal law would have demanded…. Better far to have the desired compulsions proceed from within than to apply them from without.”[14] This approach engendered a political climate that grew more oppressive by the day.

In May, 1917, Creel even reproved Americans for giving too much credence to talk of peace, which, he suggested, German agents may have initiated to diminish the will to fight. “Speculation about possible peace,” he said, was a “topic which may possess elements of danger, as peace reports may be of enemy origin put out to weaken the combination against Germany.”[15] Apparently, even to hope for peace had become an act of treason.


Many Progressive thinkers in time dismissed their anxiety that the war might endanger freedom of thought and expression in the United States. John Dewey, for instance, reassured the American people that the “liberty of thought and speech” would not “seriously suffer… in any lasting way.”[16] Progressives, after all, had to justify their approval of a war that, by its nature, sullied their faith that reason was the unfailing source of improvement in all aspects of human endeavor. Having been forced into war against its will, Progressives maintained, the United States could not now afford to vacillate. America had to fight. As early as 1914, an editorial in The New Republic proclaimed that the national sin of the United States was not joining the conflict but refusing to defend a “good cause.”[17] Recanting his initial opposition to the war, the novelist Robert Herrick reached similar conclusions, identifying the war as the remedy for the “sickliness of our national spirit,” the solution to the ennui and indolence that had beset the modern world. After spending four months in France, Herrick ascertained that there could be:

no question of the great benefit of this war…. There is not a Frenchman who will not tell you of the immense good that has already come to his people, that will come increasingly from bloody sacrifice. It has united all classes, swept aside the trivial and the base, revealed the nation to itself…. A new, larger, a more vital life has already begun for invaded and unconquered France.[18]

Herrick’s glorification of war misjudged, or ignored, the emerging logic of total war. The longer the “bloody sacrifice” continued, the more fervently did leaders of the belligerent nations accede that their people could tolerate the slaughter only if their armies destroyed the enemy. The will to victory at any cost gave rise to ever more extravagant and unattainable military ambitions, until the war escalated beyond control.

The zeal with which many Progressives embraced the war once American involvement became certain rested at bottom on the question of influence. To contest policies that a majority of Americans espoused risked not only unpopularity but also irrelevance. Like Herrick, other Progressives tended to neglect, or at least to minimize, the horrors of the war. They consider it instead an occasion for them to enter upon the corridors of power where they might assert their wise and prudent judgment. Progressive thinkers thus had to invent their reasons for going to war, which they did by gradually reinterpreting the nature of the conflict.

The decision of January 1917 to resume unrestricted submarine warfare, Progressives alleged in the pages of The New Republic and other liberal journals of opinion, as well as in the columns of daily newspapers, represented the subjugation of the civil government in Germany to the German military. This realignment of German politics required the United States to come into the war, not to vanquish Germany itself but to aid the forces of progress and democracy against those of reaction and despotism. Germany had become a “rebel nation.” War must lure Germany “back to the civilization in which she belongs.”[19] An inconclusive peace, a “peace without victory,” which Wilson advocated, came to many Progressives to mean something other than a settlement among the warring nations of Europe. It now meant, as Wilson himself intimated, a negotiated settlement between the Allied powers and the German people. A peace agreement between governments would necessarily have acquiesced in some version of the balance of power that had defined international relations in Europe since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. A peace agreement between the Allies and the German people, by contrast, had as its ultimate aim regime change in Germany and the institution of democratic government.

For the Progressives, the war, suffused as it was with revolutionary potential, anticipated a brilliant future not only for Germany but for Russia as well, to say nothing of the United States. It had long been an embarrassment for American liberals that Great Britain and France had allied with Tsarist Russia. But when Nicholas II abdicated in March 1917, less than a month before the United States opted for war, the formation of a liberal, democratic government in Russia seemed assured. “It is now as certain as anything human can be,” boasted an editorial in The New Republic, “that the war which started as a clash of empires in the Balkans will dissolve into democratic revolution the world over.”[20] Nor was the United States immune from this revolutionary ferment. Ironically, the question was whether a revolution intended to spread democracy around the world would inhibit its development at home.

By 1917, fewer Progressives harbored any such misgivings, although there were those, such as Jane Addams, who expected that war would end the movement for democratic reform and, worse, stimulate pervasive intolerance and oppression. Of all the figures who appreciated the tragic possibilities of the war, none was more improbable that Wilson himself. On the eve of American entry, Wilson prophesied to Frank Cobb, a reporter for the New York World, that going to war “would mean that we should lose our heads along with the rest and stop weighing right and wrong,” for “to fight you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the streets.”[21] Wilson saw American intervention as a regrettable necessity, the lesser of two evils. Soon abandoning these judicious reservations, Wilson in the beginning did not even contemplate the war as having been undertaken to make the world safe for democracy.

It was Secretary of State Robert Lansing who swayed Wilson to accept “the duty of this and every other democratic nation to suppress an autocratic government like the German because of its atrocious character and because it was a menace to the national safety of this country.” Such an indictment, Lansing envisaged, “would appeal to every liberty-loving man the world over.”[22] Wilson did not immediately subscribe to Lansing’s analysis, not because he favored a clear alternative but because his own thinking was uncertain and confused. The United States was going to war to safeguard neutral rights. Such a vindication of principle, however important that principle might be, was hardly sufficient to absolve the warring powers of the butchery they had carried out since 1914, and in which the United States, neutral no longer, was about to engage. Wilson’s struggle finally to consent to war reflected his awareness that the costs of war had already far exceeded any benefits the war might produce. He thus felt that he had little choice except to adopt a revolutionary foreign policy, which might yet confer some noble purpose on what was otherwise meaningless carnage. The United States was, in fact, fighting for a grand ideal: to expel the autocratic government of Imperial Germany and to install a democratic government in its place. Thus was conceived the “war to make the world safe for democracy.”

Once the die had been cast, liberals such as Dewey shed whatever apprehensions they may have entertained that the war would unleash a bigotry and hatred sure to poison American life. An emergency as immense as a foreign war, Dewey and other Progressives were confident, would inspire just the opposite response. The war would effect a less malignant and more cooperative international order. Writing in The New Republic, Dewey imagined that the war would inaugurate a humane community of reciprocal goodwill that extended across “nationalistic boundaries and interests,” revealing the undeniable truth that all facets of modern society had become interdependent. The war, in short, Dewey reasoned, would nurture a sense of cohesion and benevolence in the United States and around the world as no other event could have done.[23]


Skeptics observed a revolution of a very different sort taking shape. Rather than shortening the war, American entry was certain to prolong it at a dreadful cost. As the exigencies of war accumulated, the military would come to exercise greater authority over the German state. Extending the war “will make Germany desperate,” wrote Amos Pinchot in March 1917, “close the fist of the militarist government upon the people, and hold down the democratic impulses that stand for peace.” The deployment of American troops to France, Pinchot conjectured, would have an especially harmful effect on the Allies. It would satisfy the British and French that a decisive victory remained possible and motivate them “to offer no terms… that will not impel Germany to fight on to the bitter end.”[24] Confronted with such predictions of impending disaster, Randolph Bourne questioned what seemed to him the unfounded optimism of his fellow Progressives. Their philosophy might operate well enough in peacetime, but was wholly inadequate to the present emergency. Progressivism, Bourne confessed, had always relied on the efficacy of reason and the confidence in orderly progress. But no amount of intellectual finesse could make of war anything save an absurd and destructive enterprise over which reason was powerless.

The implications of Bourne’s critique were profound, for they conjured the specter of impotence among those who desperately sought to manage ideas and events. The war had acquired a life of its own and went inexorably on. Service, according to Bourne, had not originated either in the love of country or in a hatred of the enemy. Rather, it was the product of “coercion from above,” not “patriotism from below.”[25] Citizens, if they were not more accurately described as subjects or vassals, submitted to the state because they had no choice and no means to resist. Progressive thinkers such as Dewey had expected that war would induce Americans and peoples around the world to adopt a more democratic ideal of community. But if Bourne’s insights were correct, then war instead would develop a social and political order that was at once more authoritarian and more inane. “War determines its own end—victory,” Bourne expounded, “and government crushes out automatically all forces that deflect, or threaten to deflect, energy from the path of organization to that end.”[26] A war for democracy was nothing less than wishful thinking, a collective illusion.

Perhaps inadvertently, Bourne also exposed the insidious passivity and fatalism that buttressed the Progressive arguments in favor of war. The Progressives emphasized the necessity and inevitability of war, dismissing as naïve and unrealistic all opinions to the contrary. They characterized the United States as innocent and helpless. Germany was the omnipotent but sinister master of events. America was apparently incapable of securing German cooperation or of bringing Germany to heel without going to war. “It was a poor judge of events,” Dewey presumed, “who did not know from the very day of the Lusitania message—or at all events from that of the Sussex message—that the entrance of the United States into the war depended upon the actions of Germany.”[27] Dewey was not entirely wrong, for Wilson had relinquished much of the political initiative that the United States might have exercised. With the Sussex pledge, issued in May 1916, Wilson had vowed to retaliate against the sinking of additional merchant or passenger vessels. At the time, Wilson’s bold proclamation seemed a diplomatic coup, which had constrained the German high command to suspend the policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. But Wilson had unintentionally narrowed his own options. He had to strike were Germany ever to resume its attacks, leaving the decision for war or peace to the Kaiser and his generals.

When the war ended in disillusionment, with much of Europe in chaos and ruin, many Progressives blamed Wilson. His irresolute bearing had allowed Great Britain and France to impose an unjust peace. It was he, in the end, who betrayed the cause of democracy. Only after the war did Dewey and other Progressives admit that the Allies had never championed democratic values at all, but had gone to war from selfish motives of national aggrandizement.

Wilson’s failure to dominate the peace conference had squandered the last chance that the United States had to redirect the future of Europe. Try as he might, Wilson could do nothing to occasion the Allies to temper their demand for spoils or to restrain their appetite for vengeance. Wilson’s idealism proved no match for the stark realities of European politics, inadequate as it was to lead the Allies toward a more generous resolution.

But the Progressives might just well have chastised themselves for never imagining democracy to be other than a temporary expedient designed to estrange the German people from their government. If the Americans could have curtailed the Allied lust for retribution, the Progressives comforted themselves with the belief that the German people would have overthrown their government and sued for peace. This dubious prospect was, in their minds, enough to find Wilson alone at fault for his inability to prevent the Allies from inflicting on the liberal government of the Weimar Republic the same ruthless treatment that they had reserved for the autocratic government of Wilhelm II.

Having deserted Wilson and given up on his dream of a liberal international order, many of the same Progressives who had so tirelessly implored the United States to go to war now recommended a withdrawal from Europe at the moment when Europe was most in need of American cooperation and guidance. Dewey went so far as to caution American officials that they not “engage too much or too readily” with their former allies “until there is assurance that,” as a result of the association, “we shall not make themselves and ourselves worse, rather than better.”[28] Americans, after all, might do best for themselves by retreating from involvement in global affairs, even if it meant that, in so doing, they had to forsake the rest of the world.

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1 Robert H. Ferrell, Woodrow Wilson & World War I, 1917-1921 (New York, 1985), 2; Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson: Revolution, War, and Peace (Arlington, IL, 1979), xv.

2 Arthur S. Link, et al., eds., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson (Princeton, NJ, 1983), Vol. 42, 504. See also Wilson’s “Flag Day Speech,” reprinted in the New York Times, June 15, 1917, 4.

3 See Ferrell, 204-10, especially, 208-209, and David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (New York, 1980), 25-27, 66-86. Berger was not in office at the time of his arrest, conviction, and imprisonment. He had served as the representative of the Fifth Congressional District in Wisconsin between 1911 and 1913. Berger returned to Congress between March and November, 1919 and was subsequently elected to three terms, serving from 1923 until months before his death in 1929. Berger appealed his conviction, which the Supreme Court overturned on January 31, 1921, finding that Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who became the first commissioner of Major League Baseball, had improperly presided over the trial after filing an affidavit of prejudice.

4 Although the Department of Justice recommended against an indictment, E.S. Wentz, the U.S. Attorney for northern Ohio, proceeded to convene a federal grand jury and, on June 29, 1918, obtained an indictment of Debs for violating the Espionage Act. Like Berger, Debs appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court. But in Debs v United States (March, 10, 1919), the court upheld the verdict, ruling that Debs had intended to violate the law and to encourage others to do so by interfering with military recruitment, thus defying the Selective Service Act. The decision of the Supreme Court is reprinted in David F. Karsner, Debs: His Authorized Life and Letters (New York, 1919), 237-42. Judge Westenhaver’s remarks at Debs’s trial are quoted in Karsner, 54-55. See also Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist (Urbana, IL, 1982), 294- 96, 299-300.

5 See Stanley Coben, A. Mitchell Palmer: Politician (New York, 1963), 200-203 and Ray Ginger, The Bending Cross: A Biography of Eugene Victor Debs (New Brunswick, NJ, 1966), 405. Wilson is quoted in Salvatore, 300.

6 Wilson is quoted in Burl Noogle, Into the Twenties: The United States from Armistice to Normalcy (Urbana, IL, 1974), 113.On Debs’s release from federal prison, see Salvatore, 326-28.

7 Richard M. Weaver, “A Dialectic on Total War,” in Visions of Order: The Cultural Crisis of Our Time (Wilmington, DE, 1995; originally published in 1964), 98.

8 Quoted in Ferrell, 205.

9 George Creel, How We Advertised America (New York, 1920), 3, 5. Italics in the original. On the activities of the CPI, see Stephen Vaughn, Holding Fast the Inner Lines: Democracy, Nationalism, and the Committee on Public Information (Chapel Hill, NC, 1980).

10 Quoted in Donald Wilhelm, “Our Uncensorious Censor,” Independent 93 (January 15, 1918), 43. See also J.A. Thompson, “American Progressive Publicists and the First World War, 1914-1917,” Journal of American History 58 (September 1971), 377.

11 Creel, How We Advertised America, 105.

12 Alexander Whiteside, “Our New Americans and War Activities,” Survey 40 (June 15, 1918), 309-13; Kennedy, 63-66.

13 George Creel, “Propaganda and Morale,” American Journal of Sociology 47 (November 1941), 350 and Rebel at Large: Recollections of Fifty Crowded Years (New York, 1947), 24.

14 Creel, How We Advertised America, 5, 16-17.

15 Quoted in the New York Evening Post, May 28, 1917.

16 John Dewey, “Conscription of Thought,” The New Republic XII (September 1, 1917), 129. Reprinted in Joseph Ratner, ed., Characters and Events: Popular Essays in Social and Political Philosophy by John Dewey (New York, 1929), Vol. II, 568-69.

17 “Are We Militarists?,” The New Republic II (March 20, 1915), 167.

18 Robert Herrick, “Recantation of a Pacifist,” The New Republic IV (October 30, 1915), 328-29.

19 See, for example, William C. Bullitt in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 30, October 31, and November 1, 1916, and “Worse or Better for Germany?,” The New Republic VIII (October 28, 1916), 321-23. See also editorials in The New Republic IX (December 9, 1916), 136; IX (December 23, 1916), 202-202; X (February 10, 1917), 34-35. The quoted passage is from The New Republic X (February 17, 1917), 60.

20 The New Republic X (April 7, 1917), 280.

21 Quoted in Frank Cobb, Cobb of “The World” (New York, 1924), 269-70.

22 Quoted in Klaus Schwabe, “President Wilson and the War Aims of the United States,” in Holger Afflerbach, ed., The Purpose of the First World War: War Aims and Military Strategies (Berlin, 2015), 212, fn. 14.

23 John Dewey, “What America Will Fight For,” The New Republic XII (August 18, 1917), 69. Reprinted in Ratner, ed., Characters and Events, Vol. II (New York, 1929), 565. See also Dewey, “What Are We Fighting For?,” Independent 94 (June 22, 1918), especially 474, 481 and Ratner, ed., Characters and Events, Vol. II, 552, 556.

24 Quoted in the New York Evening Post, March 27, 1917.

25 Randolph Bourne, “A War Diary,” in Untimely Papers (New York, 1919), 93-94.

26 Ibid., 101.

27 John Dewey, “The Future of Pacifism,” The New Republic XI (July 28, 1917), 358. Reprinted in Ratner, ed., Characters and Events, Vol. II, 581.

28 John Dewey, “Our National Dilemma,” The New Republic XXII (March 24, 1920), 118. Reprinted in Ratner, ed., Characters and Events, Vol. II, 619.

The featured image is a painted portrait of Woodrow Wilson by William Orpen (1878-1931), and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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