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Every Liberty Bond is a Shot at a U Boat, . . . Buy a Liberty Bond, poster, ca. 1917

The U.S. government funded a sophisticated advertising campaign to convince Americans to buy Liberty Bonds during World War I. To promote bond purchases, advertisements like this one appeared nationwide on thousands of billboards and in streetcars. These posters indicated that the war against Germany depended upon funds generated by the war bonds.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Every Liberty Bond is a Shot at a U Boat

Liberty Bonds

The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war, but how does the nation pay for it? Eighteen days after Congress declared war against Germany in 1917, it passed the Liberty Loan Act, authorizing the treasury secretary to issue $5 billion worth of bonds to raise war funds. By the war’s end, 20 million Americans had purchased more than $21 billion of Liberty Bonds, funding two-thirds of the cost of the war. New taxes covered the remaining costs.

We act with the belief that the debt we are about to incur, stupendous though it is, is no greater than this, the greatest Republic of all time, owes to human civilization.

Representative Nicholas Longworth of Ohio, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, April 13, 1917