The Power of Persuasion

Wilson’s administration needed to whip up patriotic fervor in order to arouse Americans to enlist, contribute money, and make other sacrifices. The government's Committee on Public Information used all the era's new tools of mass communication--including posters, magazine advertisements, pamphlets published in multiple languages, and films—to bend public opinion in support of the war.

The government's messages about the war emphasized the ideals for which the United States was fighting – making the world safe for democracy, and helping people around the world determine their own destiny. They also exaggerated the danger posed by the German enemy, in order to inspire Americans to do everything they could to support the war effort.  

James Montgomery Flagg, "Wake Up America" (1917)

James Montgomery Flagg, "Wake Up America" (1917), Library of Congress.

Harry R. Hops, "Destroy This Mad Brute - Enlist" (1918)

Harry R. Hops, "Destroy This Mad Brute - Enlist" (1918), Library of Congress.

Governor Marcus Holcomb message

Governor Marcus Holcomb: "I fully support President Wilson's decision to break off diplomatic relations with Germany. Connecticut is the arsenal of the nation, and we must mobilize all of our resources for the coming conflict." -April 1917

“K-K-K-Katy” and “If He Can Fight” sheet music

“K-K-K-Katy” and “If He Can Fight” sheet music 

America's entry into the war came at a time when popular songwriting and the music publishing industry was at its height.  Sheet music like this was sold for people to play at home around their pianos; the colorful covers were designed to attract attention. Many wartime songs focused on the bravery of American soldiers “over there” and on their romances, like the popular “K-K-K-Katy,” which became the number one song in the summer of 1918.