tv 2018 Roosevelt Reading Festival - Mordecai Lee Promoting the War Effort CSPAN July 8, 2018 1:00am-1:42am EDT
daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television company. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. : : >> and now on book tv, we bring you the 2018 ralph reading philadelphia at the franklin roosevelt presidential lie flare hyde park, new york. the festival features new books bout the life and work of >> first up, authormordecai lee recaps the us governments public relations efforts to promote the american entry into world war ii . >> the libraries consistently
one of the busiest in all of the presidential libraries and this year's group of authors reflect a wide variety of research done here. welcome to the roosevelt reading center and if you a want to support this and other programs i encourage you to become a member. join today at the membership table in the hall and if you haven't already, see our special new museum exhibit the art of war: america 1941 ã1945. let me go over the format. the top of the hour the session begins with a 30 minute author, followed by a question and answer period . q up behind the microphone over there to my right, to your left to ask your questions. and the authors will move to the table in the lobby where you can purchase your book and have the author signed them and then after the next
hour the process repeats itself and now it is my pleasure to introduce mordecai lee. he earned a phd from syracuse university and served as the washington dc as a guest scholar at the brookings institution. he was elected to three terms y in the legislated state assembly and two terms in the state senate. lee began his academic career in 1977 as an assistant professor at the university of milwaukee and promoted to professor in 2006. his research has focused primarily on public administration, american history and public government relations. these written books including promoting the war effort, robert working and propaganda which he's resenting on today, his next book get things moving, fdr, winkle and the office for emergency management will be published by sq and y press and to be
available this october. join me in welcoming professor mordecai lee. [applause] >> it's an honor to beinvited . it's an opportunity for me in a sense to give back to the dr library, to promote reciprocate or all they given me. as you've heard i've written books and my night is coming out this fall. of those nine books, seven were researched here at the library and really could not have been written without the archives available so i'm honored to be able to talk about one of the products of my research here.for the
robert horton book, it was really a bit of a jigsaw puzzle because he never let any papers to the library. that's the usual place where one starts and the place where i found papers on the people research. instead i have to rely on the people he interacted with to be to use a jigsaw puzzle to put it together what he did. i use the lowell miller papers, stephen early papers and for the division of information itself, theagency , that was available at the national archives to site in college parkmaryland so by putting it all together i was able to triangulate what he did . today what i want to talk about is a moment in american history where to of the most sort of controversial political subjects came together and were implemented by robert horton. the two concepts that are
really the bogeyman of american politics, one of them is propaganda and one of them is bureaucracy and what robert horton done was propaganda for bureaucracy so you can imagine he was really the crossfire especially of people on capitol hill who er were the conservative coalition of the isolationists, all this happening before arpearl harbo . and i was really glad i want the program that the library put together today because the keynote speech at the end of the day is going to be about the hundred days to late 1940 and early 1941 where fdr mobilized the country for what was called national defense, that was the magic word. he sometimes nlsaid hemispheric defense but it was never about war, it was only about national defense so she's going to be talking about his major decisions and major
announcements during that period also one of the presentations today related to the exhibit at the museum building our posters. posters of the period. and robert horton who served beginning in june 1940 through june 1942 was one of the producers of posters and so is period of time when he was ahead of what was called the division of information was a unit within the office of emergency management which by the way, the office for emergency management was the first time emergency management became concept in american government. nowadays emergency management of falls off our tongue. not only do we have emergency management at the local level, every city, every state has a director so he
was in the moment of the founding of emergency management in american government so the division of information was a unit within i the office of emergency management which itself was a office in the government of the president so he was part of the president official family and what the office for emergency management did and what the division of information did was on the of the national mobilization. propaganda is a loaded term. i think it's been defined a bit in our times. the meaning of propaganda in our times is taking on a scary concept, it sometimes sounds like persuasive information. a radio station in my y hometown, sometimes they have online competition and they say the winner will get their propaganda. muthey shorten it, they say a proper package. by that they need on magnet
so propaganda has lost the scary feeling it had in the 1930s and 1940s and if you go back to 1930s, nazi germany , the things americans were seeing on the newsreels about nazi germany , the speeches by the minister of propaganda nazi germany, they had an official minister of propaganda , made people think that propaganda was sort of black magic or hoodoo art. because americans could see in the newsreels, they could see people marching in step. they can see thousands of people doing a file or salute. they could see people riding around hitler, there was lots of propaganda but there was some power that could brainwash people. so when robert horton stepped in to become the head of the division of information, what he was doing, while he was
accused of doing five conservative coalition was again a war. and propaganda for bureaucracy. it doesn't get any worse than in terms of politicalrhetoric . what i find especially interesting is that there's some elements of popular memory about world war ii that really come to mind quite easily. we sell the drives for aluminum, pots and pans be recycled for military uses. you think of the newsreels of america's national parliaments. we think the shorter factories coming back to life to produce armaments. we think of civic patents promoting patriotism, families gathered around the radio to listen to programs about what was occurring with the federal government was doingas.
we know about recruiting drives to get volunteers for civil defense.all before pearl harbor. all that was done by robert horton and the division of information so in american consciousness, there are not see and the soviet invasion of poland in september 1939. and then the next day is pearl harbor.what we're forgetting is that from september 30 nine to december 41 is two years of franklin roosevelt worrying about the possibility that fascism would win. the country going through the fall of czechoslovakia of course and the munich agreement, all poland, all friends. the invasion of russia. all these things happened before pearl harbor so robert
ordinance job was to do not propaganda in support of a national mobilization effort. in other words, his goal owas to convey information, he was a former reporter. he knew how to write quickly, you have to write to people to understand what was being presented to them. his job was to tell the american public about the national mobilization for national defense. franklin roosevelt declared a limited state of emergency. i think it was in september 30 nine and so under the cover of a limited state of emergency, and the billings on billions of dollars that roosevelt asked congress to for armaments, it was horton's job to explain to the american people what he was doing and why he was doing. and what's interesting,
looking back at the issue of propaganda from bureaucracy, there seemed to be a kind of an unspoken acceptance of certain things.in other words, if you go back to 19th century america and in 19th century america there were no bureaucracies except the post office. there were units ofgovernment force . state department, culture, treasury. but there was no public relations by those agencies. instead, members of congress that they were the contact, the intermediary between the citizens, voters, this constituents and the federal government. though there was little public relations by agencies, eventually along the dr and fpr says that people have a right to know what government is doing . and they have a right to know if there are programs being
offered thatthey would be eligible for. after all, how does somebody apply for a program if they don't know it exists . it's the bureaucratic equivalent if a tree fell in the forest, then nobody was there, make a sound? under franklin roosevelt you have the growth of the alphabet agencies and along with the growth ofthe agencies, public relations by agencies . tell the american people what they were doing. and the sort of accepted norms or were that agencies could engage in press religions, a reporter asked a question, answer thequestion, a reporter writes a story. they could put out press releases . not propaganda. there were theoretically limited to facts. and agencies issue reports and annual reports, here's what we did, six month
report. usually print, usually to congress these were the acceptable boundaries of what bureaucratic propaganda could do without being controversial. there were a couple other exceptions of course for the federal government . the president say could not be limited to what he would do or someday she would do. in other words the president was not limited by accepted norms on propaganda by bureaucracies and there was another exception, i never quite articulated that an agency had a social purpose that congress had declared, and it was okay for the agency to engage in , about ve information those national goals and d that's where robert horton comes into the picture, 1938, he pointed to the er director for the us maritime commission. maritime commission started under joseph k and by the
time horton came, kennedy had gone but the maritime commission was under a mandate from congress to build ships there would be a merchant marine to support should there be case of war and the statute said that it was a national purpose to have a vigorous and vital merchant marine so there was a situation where robert horton could start by engaging a little bit about persuasive information. in other words you would put up brochures, speaking tours and exhibits that essentially said isn't this a good thing what the us maritime commission is doing? as long as he was doing it then what were considered to be national goals,universally accepted goals, propaganda was okay . all nowadays the bureaucratic propaganda, thatwe get exposed to is for universally
accepted values .in other words, if there's a campaign to click it or ticket, in other words click your seatbelt or else you will get, that persuasive information. that's propaganda but we accept it within the political system because it to promote a universally accepted value. so in 1940, mid-1940, roosevelt start creating an infrastructure for natural defense and he starts out with a national defense advisory commission. whole new body seven commissioners, some of them big business, loss who are told to start managing our national mobilization for defense. and these were billions of dollars we were talking about. and roosevelt always the
careful person created the national defense visor information without any powers of congress, he said he was doing it through his executive powers. and then he appointed the seven commissioners appointed chair. and so the first meeting of the commission was with fdr in the white house. one of these businessmen who understood ceos and the hierarchal business administration structure sent fdr whose my boss. >> which is a question you would expect from a businessperson. >> and roosevelt according to the transcript paul and said well, i guess i am. >> in other words, if you takeresponsibility, he wouldn't .if he was asked about it, less yes he was lost. so it wasn't the very first
thing the national defense advisory commission it was to hire robert horton , this is in june 1940, to hire him from the maritime commission to be pr director. and that was a real lowlands of class between the old view of government which is that if you are a business ceo, you don't go down and fight with the masses. you don't respond to questions, you don't hold press conferences, you don't go out on speaking tours for radio talks. your sort of above the fray and successfully convinced them that if the national defense advisory commission would face an understanding public about what was needed for mounting the national production effort, and they needed to do public relations and so he started a program, this is summer of 1940, roosevelt is just about to
admit he might accept a draft for a third term, but horton believed that there was a need for them to have a vigorous public relations program the public could understand what and the ac was doing so at first he was doing the traditionally accepted things. he was doing pressreleases . then he did reports. and at first is reports wwere print reports like the six-month report on what and dac has done, the one they report on what ndac is done. then he started doing radio reports. after all, radio was a dominant mass medium at the time and he started doing newsreel reports and movies, movie shorts that were reported to the nation about the national mobilization for production and all this he
was doing within this very touchy political framework that he was doing perhaps propaganda or bureaucracy. by now, ndacwas implying there was 5000 people . doi was a couple hundred people but was growing fast. in fact, doi in 1941 was putting out so many press releases, ndac decided on such a contract and on such a policy that the newsroom became a 24 seven operation. to us, 24 seven, okay. that's like going to pdq perhaps. a press office, a news release office that was open the 47 gives you a sense of the press releases he was releasing calling all times of day or night. it mawas a buffer information
that he was doing. and he wasn't just doing press releases. he started doing posters and banners and signs and photos and live radio networks shows . takes that he sent to smaller radio stations to runat their own convenience . layouts for newspapers, newspapers especially rural weeklies, often run them prepackaged information that is not advertising but they can feel part of the issue he started sending out layers for newspapers, a feature series for newspapers. he had themed campaigns like the salvage campaign, he had commemorative events bill of rights day, he did present brochures and created a speakers bureau. he did movie shorts, he distributed transcripts of
briefings, he addressed special audiences. for example, a lot of the workers at the production plant, the military armaments production plants were first-generation or second-generation workers. his english was not necessarily very strong he felt if he was going to increase the row of the production workers and explain to them why they were doing what they were doing, he reached them with foreign language newspapers, yiddish newspapers, german newspapers, newspaper be read, newspapers would be read by the workers explain to them how important what they were doing was. >> he did exhibits and displays. , heated murals and heated rallies. there was i am an american day rally in chicago which
was covered by the chicago tribune. the chicago tribune was one of the most conservative time roosevelt newspapers in the country and they consistently in their news pages covered him very critically. but i am an american day, he was able to find the sweet spot. well, this is a residential. and this isn't about anything other than beingproud to be an american , so they covered it like it was the second coming. they have called major pictures, two articles, it was a pr man's dream. and so those are the kinds of public relations thatoccurred in 1940 . in the fall of 1940, and running out of time, in the fall of 1940, the leader of the conservative coalition roosevelt for failures in the military production effort,
saying only a couple hundred combat plans had been produced and delivered to the federal government so far but that roosevelt had promised 50,000 plans at a time. roosevelt and horton had that as carefully as they could. roosevelt said well, those figures might be accurate but the implication is wrong. the implication that the military production effort was not going well. he said ein an early phase of a military production for what you need are training plan, not combat plans so this is just going to the fall of 1940, he's declared for president, he's nominated for nonresident third term, the could have been lda killer of an attack. butroosevelt and horton and effectively, horton was in the white house old everyday a week . he was violating the rules that you expect that
bureaucracy stay out of politics and bureaucratic pr stays out of politics but he started releasing a gusher of information about airplane production. you couldn't turn around and not open to a press release about the latest news about your production contracts so all these things are things that happen before pearl harbor and i think it's so important that we understand that that period was exceptionally important. after pearl harbor, the ground ruleschanged . after pearl harbor, you would expect that bureaucratic propaganda for the war, for winning, for victory against the enemy, you would expect that would be permitted but what horton did until the declaration of war, he was sifting through the tulips and those were political landmines. and he succeeded in doing it i think as an invitation of what he did and why he did is
still doing it, the are still creating a space for him to do it, it seems to me that was an enormous accomplishment. to bring you to the end of the story, the division of information by knowledge the largest pr agency in washington, it had 500 people, more than the office of government reports, more than any other pr office in the roosevelt administration and horton headed doi for the first half year of the war until june 1942 and in june the president decided to merge all these information agencies together and created the office of war information . that was sort of the end of horton's run. he went back to the maritime commission, did some pr for the department of the interior but eventually left government service in 1948 so it seems to me that his role was a forgotten role, a low-profile role but a role
that was canonized by bruce kasten, some people remember it as an author who wrote civil war histories and in fact got several prizes or civil war histories. bruce worked for horton and wrote a memoir of what it was like to be in arms production a station before and after pearl harbor and the book was really a vote of gratitude to robert horton and he says some in the introduction, he says robert horton was the man he most admired all the people he interacted with. when he was in the federal government and so it seems to me that was the sigil maybe horton was more important than what history said was up till now. okay. this stage what to do, we got five minutes left. i will hand out and darren's got a packet of some of the
pr that horton disseminated before pearl harbor. or if you want to come forward and picked it up, i don't want to waste time . on distributing it. just about everybody's gotten it. i also have about the posters after pearl harbor and if we don't have time, darrell will make them available and i don't think they will need as much. as you're getting it, i'd like you to see the first poster in the packet. the first poster is the one to all defense workers. in other words, it was pr not to the public at large pr to the defense workers so this is january 41.
really i hear before pearl harbor. and what i think is so important here is that he talks about i to you, the defense workers the importance of what you are doing. if you drop to the first headline after the text, i think this is something that's important. he says let's get squarely behind our president appeal. in other words, our president , in other words he's all daring isolationists and during the conservative coalition to say that propaganda pr, that democraticpropaganda . i think he was stepping up to the red line when he said our president, and he was identifying roosevelt not as a politician by the leader of this national effort. if you flip to the second page, the second page is something he distributed in may 1941 again.
half ayear before pearl harbor . so it was a prepackaged kind of material that was sent to newspapers that newspapers could just slap on to their press machines. i think there's a term for it. i don't know the term, i don't know if i'm pronouncing it directly but in other words, here was a way to disseminate to the mass public helping women just words because sometimes teachers and photos and short explanations are much more effective in terms of information than words. >> if you flip the next page, the next page is the inside, excuse me. it's the inside cover of one of the brochures, one of the many brochures the division of information distributed. this is in december of 41 before pearl harbor.
he's trying to explain the national mobilization effort, the impact it was having on consumers , the impact it was having on the public at large . and there's something amazing in this. if you should fourth paragraph, he says there are those who would destroy from within. there's he is to stimulate down this deliberately after the motives of the majority and the majorities democratically elected leaders. they tried to deliberately confuse public thinking by false statements and insidious suggestions and then he really wings for the fences. he said they are doing a job blur. now, this is astonishing that came out before the harbor. >> and amazingly, the conservative coalition did not happen, did not attack the brochure he was in this one was perhaps over the red line because remember the united states might have been
in a state of national but it was not in a state of war, only in a state of war after pearl harbor. the next one is the color poster about the office for civil defense. this was an agency within the officefor emergency information . was headed by fiorello laguardia who wore to, he was the mayor of new york and the head of dbillion defense and so this was an effort to mobilize people that support the civiliandefense effort to be volunteers, to take their place .no that was where eleanor roosevelt was the assistant director of occ under fiorello laguardia and finally i'm going to catalog -- this last poster also came out in the fall of 1941 before pearl harbor and its sort of ambiguous. it says don't let him down. remember, there were no
american military in a combat status at thatmoment . so it's a bit ambiguous is it that he's talking about letting them down, but he's trying to mobilize the defense workers in public at large to support the non-war war effort. and in fact, looking back at how roosevelt made, roosevelt sometimes thought the us might be able to win the war without ever having to declare war. he was hoping land lease and military aid be enough to defeat hitler but of course that wasn't the case so thank you for coming, i appreciate having anlaaudience here . [applause] after we're done, after the questions, what
taro will be leaving on the front of the stage is a packet of posters from afterworld harbor. horton would be so much more explicit and some of them that you will be seeing in the exhibit, nobody has a perfect collection but you will be seeing some of those next door. karen? >> formerly of syracuse university, you're all honor and university of pittsburgh. my wife susan and i were teaching, having to deal with anti-communist in hollywood. i'm wondering if horton got all involved in the communist party and communist propaganda during this trend because there was a lot of communist activity unlike any other agency in congress who were very much against the communist during the period
you are talking about's for those of you that didn't hear the questions about was communism ever issue or being associatedwith them , no. he was so skilled politically and pr wife that he never got in trouble about the communist issue although there were otherpeople that did get in trouble later on . >> i'm wondering if you either discovered or can draw any connections between what george creel did in world war i especially since fdr was in the navy . >> question was asked, the propaganda office for world war i was the committee on information . committee on information. headed by george creel and was an outright propaganda. that was the kind of lace where they talked about theon , like on and they really went over the top in terms of
propaganda. roosevelt although he was on good terms with creel did not want another real agency and in fact ricky is the secretary of interior lobbying to create a creel type agency before pearl harbor and roosevelt kept putting him off. he felt the information horton's packaging and i'm just distributing information was a way to avoid the controversy that creel had created. >> when didn't actually start and did most of it was written? >> i'm nonexpert on when lease but it was approved in the spring of 1941 and i think that was one of the big issues we described by the author in the afternoon session and great britain i can tell justone anecdote , great britain was in such bad shape. that the day congress finished passing land lease,
roosevelt that a messenger pick it up on capitol hill as soon as possible, dry, deliver it to him. he signed 10 minutes after it arrived and then please sign another document so that conveys how powerful when lease was. >> i'm sorry i came late. you made reference a few times to an entity he called the conservative coalition.l i'm not clear, i've not heard of that as a formal entity before. are you talking about an organization or simply about an orifice group of conservatives opposed roosevelt. >> i appreciate the question etbecause i should've explained. i did explain it before you came in. >> you'll get a carpet. >> you you'll get a tardy slip for that.
thank you for the question. the conservative coalition was the group on capitol hill that consisted of republicans who course were anti-fdr and conservative southern democrats for western democrats were becoming increasingly isolationist t and anti-fdr and often they had a numeric majority on capitol hill and dominated the news coming out of capitol hill. they were a propaganda machine is the art, anti-mobilization, antiwar and no it was an ongoing effort to deal with the conservative coalition at the packing roosevelt what he was doing. >> wasn't tied loosely or not loosely with the america first movement. >> and relations with special interest groups on capitol hill. >>.
>> my name is morrissey and thank you so much foryour informative talk . i'm an artist and i'm concerned with a work in progress. you may not know what the finished sculpture will be but it's a work in progress . is this a work in progress between mister horton and the president or were they marketing media geniuses on some level and decided let's start low, we will just have a small one time release and by the time we developed this , have a campaign that covers everything and everybody. what is your opinion? >> i think the accurate answer from a historian would be that present, you're going back to 1940, 1941.
it's chaotic, it's full of contingencies, full of uncertainties. they weren't sure what was going to happen or what they ancould get away with. they weren't sure how effective the isolationist would be and it was kind of an experiment, let's see what we can do. let's see what we can get away with in terms of the apisolationist but they didn't know that pearl harbor was going to happen. they didn't know were sure what was going to so history is full of contingencies and it's only in hindsight that we can give a linear story and perhaps in my relating the story of robert horton, it came across to sequentially. i think he got up in the morning and he every day what can i do? and that developments occurred abroad he was able to do more and more. >> maybe they were created to on some level. >> i think so. [inaudible] thank you very much, thank you for coming.
>> next up for the 2018 roosevelt reading festival, sandra opdycke provides the progress of theworks progress administration which gave employment to 8 million americans through the and 40s . >> i'm patrick leahy, a member of the archive staff here and all the half of the fdr presidential library, i like to welcome you to the 15th annual roosevelt reading festival. president roosevelt envisioned and planned for this library to become the premier institution that