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Liberty Bonds Poster, World War I, Cayuga County, NY, c. 1917

All About Liberty Bonds
New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B03_F03_LibertyBonds
 
Document Description
Poster describing the benefits of buying liberty bonds to support the World War I efforts. The poster explains: what they are; why buy the; how to buy them; where to buy them; and by what date they should be purchased, Cayuga County, NY, c. 1917.
 
Questions
What are liberty bonds?
Why are they important?
What might be the purpose of this advertisement?
Would this be effective to get people to buy bonds? Why or why not?
 
Historical Challenges
Compare funding sources in other American wars such as the War on Terror with the way WWI was funded?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Create a spreadsheet or chart depicting the calculations of a fictitious bond purchase that demonstrates how the process works.
 
Resources
Paxson, Frederic. American Democracy and the World War. NY, Cooper Square, 1966.
Schaffer, Ronald. America in the Great War. NY, Oxford University Press, 1991.
 

Historical Context
Liberty or war bonds were the primary manner in which World War I was funded in the United States. Relying on the spirit of patriotic volunteerism, President Wilson hoped his optional loan program would suffice for raising the financial resources needed to fund the war. 

By war’s end, and even into 1919, the different iterations of Treasury Department bond issues raised roughly 2/3 of the total financial burden for the war. The remainder was raised by increased taxes. The war bond frenzy was closely tied to the propaganda coming from Washington as some of the more memorable posters from history urged Americans to buy war bonds. The display of one’s Liberty Bond button became associated with an individual’s patriotism. Salesmen, athletes, movie stars, and entire towns advertised the need to support the war through bonds and American responded in a manner consistent with their responses to the mobilization of the nation at large.

 
Essential Question
How do nations finance war?
 
Check for Understanding
Explain the purpose and process of the liberty bonds using evidence from the poster.