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Selling World War I: “Buy Liberty Bonds!” 1917–1919

When the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, it needed funds to support the war effort. The Civil War had demonstrated that simply printing more currency would lead to inflation and economic trouble. During World War I, the Secretary of the Treasury and head of the Federal Reserve, William G. McAdoo, did not want to risk devaluing the new US paper currency, which had only been in existence since 1914. Therefore, McAdoo decided to gather one-third of the money needed through taxes and the rest through fundraising.