1916-1925: America– War and Peace

Author: Guy Emerson  | Date: 1918

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The Liberty Loan Army

OUR army was our first line in the war against Germany. Our second line of offense and defense was the navy, and behind both stood another line without which neither the army nor the navy could have "carried on." This third force was the greatest unit ever marshalled in the history of this or any other country—the Liberty Loan Army. Before a man in the United States uniform entered a trench, before the first depth bomb had been dropped on a U-boat, this army, which finally carried a roster of 22,777,680 names, had entered the war.

Think of it! One person in every five in the immense population was in the war!

True, their contribution to the eventual triumph of our arms was measured in dollars while that of the men at the front or on the seas was in lives or limbs. Yet it is a fact that dollars were as powerful relatively as men in bringing the Boche to bay.

Various causes have been given to account for the startlingly sudden collapse of the Kaiser’s army. Some say that the Allies’ superior military strategy brought it to its knees. Others contend that success against the U-boats broke it down. Both are partly right, for each helped to undermine the German morale. But however great the contribution of both was, it is safe to say that the front presented by the Liberty Loan Army was a vital factor. The belated German consciousness that the United States as a whole was in the war, as tangibly represented in the strength of the Liberty Loan Army, helped to shatter the Germans’ will to victory. As much as the men in khaki or in blue, this gigantic unit bore in upon his mind as an unyielding opponent. He understood the futility of trying to defeat a people that enlisted against him to the number of 22,777,680 at home, 4,000,000 in the field and 300,000 on the water.

There is another angle to this important element of morale. In inverse ratio to the weakening of the spirit of the Germans against this resistless body there came a daily strengthening of the morale of our own men and those of the Allies through this manifestation at home. Where there are two opposing wills to victory in the field, the one that has the greater backing at home is certain to overwhelm the other.

It was not the dollar that won the war, it was the spirit behind the dollar. Before Prince Max asked for the armistice he had learned that $9,978,835,800 had been subscribed in this country toward his defeat. It is natural to assume that this fact did not impress him so much as the related fact that millions of persons had participated in the subscription.

Up to the end of the Fourth Loan, which coincided with the negotiations for the Armistice, $ 16,971,909,050 had been paid in and this helped to save life to an extent that we can only imagine. It was the confident expectation when the Americans halted the German onslaught at Chateau-Thierry that the end of the war would come in the following spring. None dared to hope that it would come before Christmas. When the crash came in November, even the Allied commanders were bewildered by its suddenness. Had the war been prolonged to the spring of 1919, it is certain that we would have paid a large toll in lives. Some have estimated that 100,000 more of our young men would have been sacrificed. That the war did not drag along for six months more may be ascribed in part to the effect that the demonstrated loyalty of the Liberty Loan Army had upon German morale.


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Chicago: Guy Emerson, "The Liberty Loan Army," 1916-1925: America– War and Peace in America, Vol.12, Pp.78-80 Original Sources, accessed December 2, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Z2YANLAPGYPLA1I.

MLA: Emerson, Guy. "The Liberty Loan Army." 1916-1925: America– War and Peace, in America, Vol.12, Pp.78-80, Original Sources. 2 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Z2YANLAPGYPLA1I.

Harvard: Emerson, G, 'The Liberty Loan Army' in 1916-1925: America– War and Peace. cited in , America, Vol.12, Pp.78-80. Original Sources, retrieved 2 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Z2YANLAPGYPLA1I.