George Creel

George Creel

George Creel was born in Layfayette County, Missouri, on 1st December, 1876. He worked as a reporter for the Kansas City World (1894-99) before starting his own newspaper, the Kansas City Independent in 1899.

Creel also worked for the Denver Post before being appointed as Police Commissioner of Denver by mayor, Henry J. Arnold. in 1912 Creel brought in several reforms, including banning police officers from using clubs and nightsticks. He also brought in measures to bring an end to prostitution in the city. Arnold became concerned by the speed of reforms and when Creel accused city policemen of public drunkenness, he was dismissed from office.

Creel now went to work for the Rocky Mountain News but in 1917 President Woodrow Wilson appointed him head of the United States Committee on Public Information. He also organized a team of 18,000 public speakers in favour of the First World War. Employing techniques used by the British War Propaganda Bureau, he encouraged artists to create thousands of paintings, posters, cartoons, and sculptures promoting the war. It has been claimed that Creel's organisation distributed 60 million pamphlets, booklets and leaflets.

Creel described his propaganda campaign in his book, How We Advertised America (1920). "Our effort was educational and informative throughout, for we had such confidence in our case as to feel that no other argument was needed than the simple, straightforward presentation of facts."

An active member of the Democratic Party, he served on the San Francisco Regional Labor Board. In 1934 he took on Frank Merriam, of the Republican Party and Upton Sinclair of the Socialist Party in the battle to be Governor of California. Merriam won the election and in 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him as chairman of the National Advisory Board of the Works Progress Administration.

After the Second World War Creel became a committed right-winger and worked with Joseph McCarthy in his campaign to remove liberals and socialists from positions of influence.

George Creel, who was the author of fifteen books, died in San Francisco on 2nd October, 1953.