Four Minute Men

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4 Minute men--A message from Washington

The Four Minute Men was a World War I era program created to help mobilize public opinion. It was a division of the Federal Committee on Public Information.

1917 Thrift Stamp

The Four Minute Men were also sometimes referred to as Flying Squadrons.[1]


The role of the Four Minute Men was to get out a unified message that the government wanted people to hear, in an effort to manufacture support for the war.[2]

The Four Minute Men were local volunteers who spoke at public gatherings, fairs, vaudevilles and motion picture houses for four minutes. Speakers received material from which to prepare speeches. Speeches combated adverse publicity and German propaganda, supported fund drives, called for support of the Red Cross and the YMCA, and promoted Liberty Loans, food conservation, and victory gardens. They also urged citizens to purchase Liberty Bonds and Thrift Stamps.[3][4]

A Message From the Government at Washington

The program ended a few weeks after the war ended in 1918, having enrolled 75 thousand men in its program. In 18 months they had given 1,555,000 speeches to 134,000,000 people at a cost to the government of only $140,000.


The Four Minute Men were entrusted with a function of trying to create a boost of morale in support of the war.[5][6][7]

However, that morale boost may have come with a cost. George Creel, CPI chairman, cynically believed that "catch-phrases constitute a staple article of diet, especially in a democracy",[8] leading to the creation of both the Four Minute Men and what would develop into the universally condemned Sound bite.[9][10]

Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks at a Liberty Bond rally, 1918

Notable Members

Further reading

  • Jeanne Graham, "The Four Minute Men: Volunteers for Propaganda." Southern Speech Journal 1966 32(1): 49-57
  • Carol Oukrop, "The Four Minute Men Became National Network during World War I" Journalism Quarterly 1975 52(4): 632-637


External links