A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 02, 2011
“The first casualty of war is truth”

"The first casualty of war is truth” is often credited to the classical Greek playwright Aeschylus (525 BC-456 BC), but there’s no evidence that he ever wrote it. The lexicographer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) wrote in 1758: “Among the calamities of war be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.”

“The first casualty of war is truth” was a popular saying during World War I. William Trufant Foster, president of Reed College (Portland, OR), delivered a lecture titled “Truth, the First Casualty of War” in March 1917. Radio news commentator Boake Carter (1900-1944) said in the 1930s: “In time of war the first casualty is truth.”


Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 529 (Modern Proverbs):
“The first casualty of war is truth.”
Sherwood Eddy and Kirby Page, The Abolition of War (1924). “The first casualty when war comes is truth” is often attributed to Hiram Johnson in 1918, but, according to the , “it does not occur in the record of the relevant speech.”
Pg. 400:
Samuel Johnson
English man of letters, 1709-1784
“Among the calamities of war be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages.”
The Idler no. 30 (11 Nov. 1758)

Wikiquote: Aeschylus
Æschylus (525 BC – 456 BC) was a playwright of ancient Greece, the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians, the others being Sophocles and Euripides.
(...)
Misattributed
In war, truth is the first casualty.
. This is often attributed to US Senator Hiram Johnson, but does not appear anywhere in his speeches. First recorded use is from Arthur Ponsonby’s Falsehood in Wartime: Propaganda Lies of the First World War (1928). Samuel Johnson also expressed a similar idea in The Idler (1758).

Find A Grave Memorial
BOAKE CARTER
Birth:  c. 1900
Death:  Nov. 16, 1944
Journalist. One of America’s preeminent news commentators of the 1930s, he helped make political punditry a commercial success on the radio.
(...)
Today Carter is remembered solely for a statement he made but did not write: “In time of war the first casualty is truth”. This observation dates to the Ancient Greek tragedian Aeschylus and was developed over the centuries by Samuel Johnson and others. (bio by: Robert Edwards)

Google Books
JOURNAL OF PROCCEDINGS
OF THE
FIFTY-THIRD ANNUAL MEETING
OF THE
NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES
OAKLAND, CAL., AUGUST 16-27, 1915
Pg. 54:
WOMAN AND WAR
MRS. PHILIP SNOWDEN, LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND
Pg. 55:
Someone has finely said that “truth is the first casualty in war”; and never was a greater untruth spoken than that war is waged for the protection of women and homes.

Google Books
Truth and the War
By Edmund Dene Morel
London: National Labour Press
1916
Pg. IX:
INTRODUCTION
By Philip Snowden, MP
TRUTH,” it has been said, “is the first casualty of war.”

15 March 1917, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 13:
“TRUTH” DR. FOSTER’S SUBJECT.—“Truth, the First Casualty of the War,” will be the subject on which Dr. W. T. Foster, president of Reed College, will discourse at a meeting in Library Hall of the Jackson Club, a Democratic political organization, Friday night. Dr. Foster will be the speaker of the evening.

17 March 1917, Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. 15L
WAR SPIRIT SCORED
President Foster Says Truth
Dies at Call to Arms.

SANE THINKING IS URGED
Head of Reed College Declares if
People Want War They Should
Be Given Chance to Vote on
It by Referendum Means.

Dr. W. T. Foster, president of Reed College, was the principal speaker at a meeting of the Jackson Club, a Democratic political organization in Library Hall last night. His subject was, “Truth, the First Casualty of War.”

One of the greatest immoralities of war, said Dr. Foster, is the general conspiracy concommitant with war for the suppression of the truth, or of that part of the truth that does not favor one’s own side. He referred to the censorships in force in all the warring countries and their suppression of news that is unfavorable.

“But before the outbreak of hostilities, the conspiracy begins to prevent the telling of the truth when that truth happens to be for the moment contrary to the opinion of the majority, or of the self-constituted majority,” said Dr. Foster.

“We have seen the workings of this conspiracy against truth in our own country and the attempts by self-styled patriots to call every person who differs from them unpatriotic and to malign them, bulldoze them and hammer them out of standing for that which they believe to be the truth.

“In periods of public passion, we appear to lose our senses somewhat.”
(...)
Secret Diplomacy Blamed.
The reason therefor, said Dr. Foster, is secret diplomacy.

“Those in charge of this secret diplomacy,” he declared, “know that if the people knew the truth, they wouldn’t stand for it for a moment.

“The salvation of the human race, the destiny of civilization, depends upon our building up relations between nations on a basis of open truth instead of the present basis of hiding the truth.”

Google Books
NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES
Addresses and Proceedings
OF THE
FIFTY-FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING
HELD AT
PORTLAND, OREGON
JULY 7-14
1917
VOLUME LV
Pg. 380:
CONSERVATION OF NATIONAL IDEALS IN WAR TIME
WILLIAM T. FOSTER, PRESIDENT, REED COLLEGE, PORTLAN, ORE.
Pg. 381:
In time of war the university, true to its function as the conservator of all that is best in the nation, must remain a cool and lofty place of ideals. First among its cherisht and protected ideals must be that of truth, for “truth is the first casualty of war.”

14 January 1924, Oregonian, pg. 6, col. 6:
TWO ISSUES HELD FAR APART
Rev. W. G. Eliot Jr. Believes Fun-
damentalist Reasoning Sound.

“The Christianity of the fundamentalist and the Christianity of the modernist are two different things that cannot be reconciled,” declared W. G. Eliot Jr., the minister of the Church of Our Father (Unitarian), in his sermon yesterday on “The Authority of the Bible From the Point of View of the Modernists.” “I believe with an editorial in the Christian Century that there is a profound disparity between them not only as to their respective intellectual processes, but as to their objective goals and even their spiritual experiences,” he said.

The spirit of controversy was deprecated by Mr. Eliot. “While I disapprove the spirit of controversy, I disapprove even more the attempt to smooth things over by evading real issues,” he said. “In controversy as in war the first casualty is truth.”

Google Books
The Abolition of War;
The case against war and questions and answers concerning war
By Sherwood Eddy and Kirby Page
Garden City, NY: Doran & Company, Inc.
1924
Pg. 53:
It has been well said that the first casualty of war is truth, the next is love, then follows liberty, then justice.

Google Books
Modern Speeches on Basic Issues
Edited by Lew Sarett and William Trufant Foster
Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
1939
Pg. 436:
“Truth is the first casualty of war.” Discuss that statement.

Reed Magazine
What’s so funny ‘bout communism. atheism, and free love?
The Radical Legacy of William Trufant Foster

By John P. Sheehy ’82
(...)
This appeal to the ground rules of rational debate in the midst of war hysteria revealed the depth of Foster’s intellectual stubbornness, as well as his political naiveté. He wrote that he saw no reason why, in the search for the truth, tolerance of opposing views should be incongruous with the community’s highest regard for the speaker of those views. A week later, he addressed the Jackson Club, a Democratic political association in Portland, with a talk entitled “Truth is the First Casualty of War,” alleging that a secret diplomacy was behind the effort to pull America into the war.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Sunday, January 02, 2011 • Permalink