WILSON, Woodrow (1856-1924). Typed letter signed ("Woodrow Wilson"), as President, to J. Swagar Sherley of the House Appropriations Committee, Washington, D. C., 11 May 1918. 6 pages, 4to, White House stationery.
WILSON REQUESTS A SPECIAL $50 MILLION FUND FOR ESPIONAGE AND PROPAGANDA
An unusually long and provocative letter revealing the growing intelligence and propaganda efforts of the Federal government. "I think that it is of the utmost importance," Wilson tells the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, that $50 million "should be put at my disposal for the next fiscal year." In this pre-CIA era, Wilson envisions significant spending for "indispensable secret service and to confidential uses abroad." Interestingly he targets most of that spying on Allied governments, specifically "the governments associated with us in the war." Wilson discusses the costs associated with propagande: "instrumentalities both on this side of the water and the other which are doing admirable work in informing public opinion..." He speaks with special emphasis, and palpable pride, of "the work which the Committee on Public Information is doing. Mr. Creel...is in a very special sense my personal representative. I have kept in close touch with the work that he is doing, and it has at all times been based in large part on my advice. It has been admirably done and I think it very likely that nobody, not even those intimately connected with the Government, are aware of the extent, the variety and the usefulness of that work...I should feel personally crippled if any obstacle of any kind were put in the way of that work..."
George Creel (1876-1953), a former newspaper and advertising man, gathered together a vast collection of academics, writers, and movie stars to help drum up support for the American war effort. In all his Committee issued some 75 million pamphlets, 6,000 press releases, and 14,000 drawings and posters (American National Biography).