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Buy Liberty Bonds, World War I, c. 1917

Buy Liberty Bonds

New York State Archives, NYSA_A3167-78A_B7_WW1_Material_04
Document Description
Plea from the National Savings Bank of Albany for residents to purchase Liberty Bonds to support World War I efforts, c. 1917.
What type of document is this?
What is The National Savings Bank of the City of Albany asking citizens to do?
How do you think the citizens of Albany would have reacted to this document?
Why would someone be interested in buying a Liberty Bond?
Why would purchasing Liberty Bonds be important to the war effort?
Historical Challenges
Aside from the Liberty Bonds campaign, the United States used other methods to finance WWI. Research these methods and list the pros and cons of each.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Create a propaganda poster to encourage other Americans to support the Liberty Bond campaign.
English Language Arts: Write a speech in support of Liberty Bonds for one of McAdoo’s speaking tours.
Math: If a citizen buys a $50 war bond with an annual interest rate of 4%, how much money will the bond be worth in a year, in 5 years, in 10?
Gilbert, C., American Financing of World War I. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1970.
Kennedy, D.M., Over Here: The First World War and American Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.


Historical Context
When the United States entered World War 1 in 1917, the country found itself unprepared for the huge financial burden of the war.  To solve this problem, Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo launched an enormous campaign with the aim of getting the average American to loan the Federal Government money to support the war effort.   The campaign encouraged all American citizens to support the Allied cause by purchasing war bonds called Liberty Bonds.  McAdoo used speaking tours, propaganda posters with slogans such as: “Beat Back the Hun with Liberty Bonds” and celebrity endorsements to encourage average Americans to demonstrate their patriotism by purchasing these war bonds.  By buying the bonds, Americans were lending their money to the Federal Government to pay for the war.  In return, the bond earned a set interest rate from 3.5 to 4.5 percent and the purchaser could redeem the bond for face value at a later date.  By the end of the war Liberty Bonds raised about $21 billion to finance WWI.
Essential Question
How do nation's fund a war?
Check for Understanding
Identify the techniques used to persuade the reader and summarize the main idea.