Thursday, April 7, 2011

7 April 1918: Light the Torch of Liberty

On this day in 1918, the following full-page ad appeared on page 8 of the Athens Banner:

 (click on image to enlarge)

The third "Liberty Loan" offered $3 billion in bonds at 4.5% interest, and was issued on April 5, 1918. Created to fund the First World War, Secretary of the Treasury W. G. McAdoo had a wide-ranging publicity program. He embarked on an extensive speaking tour, and commissioned  artists such as James Montgomery Flagg, H. C. Christy, Charles Dana Gibson for an aggressively patriotic poster campaign. Secretary McAdoo also hired movie stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and America's Sweetheart, Mary Pickford to tour the country encouraging Americans to purchase bonds.

Anyone and everyone, including troops of Boy and Girl Scouts, could and were encouraged to sell Liberty Bonds. Ads encouraging the purchasing of bonds were placed by local financial businesses, but also Athens Railway & Electric Company, Martin Brothers Shoe Store, Palmer & Sons drug stores, and the Davison-Nicholson department store. Athens also had a local "Libery Bond Committee," which would promote Liberty Bonds as a patriotic duty before showings of movies or other performances, and sent letters to pastors to read to their congregations, encouraging them to buy bonds to "do your part to stamp out Prussian autocracy."

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