American involvement in the Great War presented the U.S. Treasury with the classic problem of war finance: to what extent should the government rely on taxes, borrowing, or printing money to fund the war? To limit the potential political fallout from substantially increasing taxes or raising inflation, Treasury Secretary William McAdoo suggested that appeals to citizens’ patriotism would drive the public to purchase government bonds, or Liberty Loans, redeemable years later at their original value plus interest.   


Beginning in 1917 the government initiated aggressive poster-driven campaigns that relied on slogans and imagery of classic national symbols to evoke the patriotism of potential subscribers. While the Liberty Loan drives targeted adults, War Savings Stamps were aimed at children indicating that no contribution was too small. Both campaigns were enormously successful, raising over $24 billion, two-thirds of America’s total cost in the Great War.