"The first casualty when war comes is truth." This is the original quote that was attributed to Hiram W. Johnson, a Republican politician from California who served in the United States Senate for nearly 30 years. Beginning in the midst of World War I and concluding with his death in 1945 (as it happens, on the same day the U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb on Hiroshima), Johnson was a member of the Senate.

In 1918, U.S. Senator Hiram W. Johnson is purported to have said: "The first casualty when war comes is truth." This phrase did not then receive media attention or become one that was publicly recorded. Ten years later in 1928, Arthur Ponsonby's wrote: "When war is declared, truth is the first casualty."

Twenty-five years after Johnson's quote during World War II, Winston Churchill would say, “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be protected by a bodyguard of lies.” Those two phrases (Johnson's and Churchill's), each seen as true in their own historical contexts, were greatly accepted as universal principles.

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