The Treasury Department quickly launched the Liberty Loan campaign to sell war bonds, which were used to help fund the war. (No one had anticipated that the war would eventually cost the nation $33 billion, more than the federal gov't's total expenses from 1789-1917!) The first issue of the bonds did not sell well, so Treasury Secretary William McAdoo launched an aggressive publicity campaign. Artists designed posters, movie stars hosted rallies, and organizations like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts sold bonds directly in local communities. Many large companies - including the Union Metallic Cartridge Company in Bridgeport - urged their workers to purchase bonds to support the war effort.
Charlie Chaplin: "I never made a speech before in my life, but I believe I can make one now. You people out there – I want you to forget all about percentages in this Third Liberty Loan. Human life is at stake and no one ought to worry about what rate of interest the bonds are going to bring or what he can make by purchasing them. Money is needed – money to support the great army and navy of Uncle Sam. This very minute the Germans occupy a position of advantage, and we have got to get the dollars. It ought to go over so that we can drive that old devil, the Kaiser, out of France. How many of you men – how many of you boys, out there, have bought or are willing to buy Liberty Bonds?”
Certificate of Laura Barron to serve as a "Minute Man"
"Four-Minute Men" gave speeches about the war to audiences in movie halls, markets, fairs, and churches around the country. The Germans were watching to see if Americans supported the war by donating money to the Liberty Loan campaign. Money meant quicker victory and therefore less bloodshed.
Broadsides for Liberty Loan rallies in Greenfield Hill
In Fairfield, people were inspired by four major Liberty Bond rallies. They exceeded the goal by purchasing about $800,000 worth of bonds. Connecticut held over a thousand wartime rallies in 1917 and 1918, including these ones in Greenfield Hill. These rallies, which became a model for other states to follow, were carefully designed to evoke pride and patriotism, as well as raising money for the war effort. They featured processions of school children, Red Cross workers, and the families of soldiers in service as well as invited speakers. Singing along with the "Liberty Chorus" gave all who attended the feeling of participating in a patriotic ritual.
Liberty Loan flag
This flag was presented to the town of Fairfield for raising its quota of funds in the 1919 Fifth Liberty Loan campaign. This campaign was also called the Victory Liberty Loan since it took place after the war concluded.
Liberty Loan Bond receipt, 1918
Fourth Liberty Loan Bond, 1918
Liberty Loan bonds such as this were sold in relatively small denominations of $50 and $100 to enable widespread participation, as well as in much higher amounts for wealthy individuals, banks, and corporations. This bond is numbered “1” as it was the first issued in that campaign.
“Ring Me Again” doorknob placard for Third Liberty Loan
War Savings Stamps For Sale Here [Joan of Arc]
War Savings Stamps were sold in amounts as small as twenty-five cents, enabling children and lower-income families to save up enough to contribute to the Liberty Loan effort. Americans purchased $1 billion of these stamps in order to help fund the war.
Liberty Loan - Wear Your Button, 1917