34. Letter From President Wilson to Acting Secretary of War Crowell1
Washington, September 5, 1918
My dear Mr. Secretary:
Recurring to what I spoke of for a moment yesterday in our little war conference,2 may I not ask for information about [illegible—activities?] I am very jealous about?
I am told that the War Department is, through its intelligence officers, in some way interesting itself in the matter of propaganda abroad, and I would be very much obliged if you would make inquiry and find how far this is true and what is being attempted, because it is my wish to keep the matter of propaganda entirely in my own hands and I had not known that any other agencies than those I had set up were attempting to interest themselves in it. I regard nothing as more delicate or more intimately associated with the policy of the administration than propaganda, and if any agency of the Army is attempting to organize propaganda of any sort or to take a hand in controlling it, I would be very much obliged if you would “call them off”. You will know how to do so kindly and without intimating any criticism on my part, but only my sense of the absolute necessity of my directing that whole matter.
1Source: Library of Congress, Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Series 2: Family and General Correspondence, 1786–1924, Reel 99, 1918 Aug. 20–Sept. 16. No classification marking. Also printed in Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 49, p. 449.
2Although no other record of Crowell and Wilson’s “little war conference” was found, on September 4 Lansing informed Wilson that Lippmann and Blankenhorn were working on propaganda issues. (Ibid., pp. 433–434)
A Princeton PhD, was a U.S. diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Central/Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. After leaving the State Department in order to express opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, he taught courses at Georgetown University pertaining to the tension between propaganda and public diplomacy. For many years he shared ideas on the theme "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" with Eurasian/European delegates participating in the "Open World" program.
Brown’s articles have appeared in numerous publications. A recent piece is “Janus-Faced Public Diplomacy: Creel and Lippmann During the Great War” (published in Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future; now online).
He is the author (with S. Grant) of The Russian Empire and the USSR: A Guide to Manuscripts and Archival Materials in the United States (also online). In the past century, he served as an editor/translator of a joint U.S.-Soviet publication, The Establishment of Russian-American Relations, 1765-1815.