The war was over but the debt remained: the Treasury Department reminds New Orleanians of their patriotic duty to invest in war bonds.
The war made 1918 a challenging year and forced the U.S. government to seek more effective ways to finance the troops overseas to bring home a victory. Battles were being fought, lives were being lost, and money was being forfeited all at an alarming rate at the expense of the federal government, and these expenses did not go away with the Armistice. In late November 1918, the government brought it’s bond drive to New Orleans in which War Savings officials urged its residents to show patriotism to the U.S. by “taking up the pledges” and investing in war bonds, a valuable necessity in World War I.
Beginning in 1917 when the U.S. joined its Allies in fighting WWI, the Treasury Department issued War Savings Stamps and Liberty Loan Bonds to help raise funds during the wartime era. World War I had cost the U.S. federal government over 30 billion dollars, and the launch of war bonds acted as a saving grace when citizens helped finance the war. For New Orleans, War Stamp “banner days” were instituted in the last week of November 1918 by Dr. Paul H. Sanders, president of the Commercial Trust Savings Company of Louisiana, to urge the city to commit to their pledge of investing in War Savings stamps and thrift stamps. According to the Times-Picayune article addressing war bonds and patriotic duty, Friday and Saturday were named the banner days of “Honor Week”, a week in which citizens pay tribute to the U.S. by expending their money in War Savings stamps. It was made imperative by the War Savings officials and Dr. Saunders that these two days be spent investing in additional bonds to serve the country during a destitute time.
War Savings stamps were essentially interest-earning bonds that would be worth $5 at their maturity in 1923, with the price of the stamp increasing by one cent each month as dictated by the Treasury Department. Thrift stamps, however, accrued no interest and were 25 cents a piece. They acted as an alternative for citizens with no means or money to invest in a War Savings stamp.
Additionally, the Treasury Department stated that Louisiana was lacking in its war savings stamp sales in October according to the $1,271,267 profited, meaning 69 cents per capita. This outcome was diminutive in comparison to expected showings, but Dr. Saunders assured that the pledges made for November and December would demonstrate 100 percent of its war savings efforts like it always has. Thus, trust and dependency was placed in New Orleans and all of Louisiana in hopes that their additional investments would help relieve the costliness of the World War.
“Friday and Saturday Made War Stamp Banner Days.” Times-Picayune, November 29, 1918.
“War Bonds | International Encyclopedia of the First World War (WW1).” Accessed November 26, 2018. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/war_bonds.
“You / Buy a Liberty Bond / Lest I perish!” America At War Collection, Louisiana Digital Library. Accessed November 22, 2018. http://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/tahil-aaw%3A1034.