Shortly after declaring war in 1917, the Wilson Administration was faced with the reality of having to pay for the massive military build-up required. Tax increases and monetary expansion were ruled out, leaving only borrowing as an option.
- On April 24th, 1917, the Emergency Loan Act authorized $5 billion. $1.9 billion in bonds were issued at 3.5%, 30 years maturity, callable at 15. Interest on up to $30,000 in bonds held was tax exempt.
- On October 1st, 1917 the Second Liberty Loan Act authorized up to $15 billion. $3.8 billion in bonds were issued at 4%, 25 years maturity, callable at 10.
- On April 5th, 1918 the Third Liberty Loan Act authorized $3 billion. $4.1 billion in bonds were issued at 4.15%, 10 year maturity. Limited to $45,000 per person.
- On September 28th, 1918 the Fourth Liberty Loan Act authorized $6 billion. $6.9 billion in bonds were issued at 4.25%, 20 year maturity, callable at 15. These were redeemable in gold.
- On April 21st, 1919 the Victory Loan Act authorized $4.5 billion at 4.75% four years maturity callable at three. These were redeemable in gold and tax-exempt.
All of the bonds were sold directly to the public by banks. In order to stimulate sales Bond Rallies were held, featuring parades, speeches and free performances by movie stars. The Four Minute Man campaign featured short speeches in public assemblies where prominent local persons urged the purchase of bonds. There was an installment purchase plan whereby persons could buy 25 cent War Savings Stamps and when 200 had been acquired the stamp books could be exchanged for a $50 bond.