American Liberty

WWI poster urging Americans to buy Liberty Bonds

This image and form of propaganda was very popular during World War I, to encourage people to buy liberty bonds.  A liberty bond was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in WWI. Investing in these bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the US and began the idea of having financial security as a citizen for the first time. This poster utilizes many forms and techniques of propaganda to evoke a sense of responsibility in purchasing the liberty bonds.

One of the most obvious forms of propaganda used is the Glittering Generalities technique, which propagandists use vague, sweeping statements or slogans, including language that is commonly associated with personal values and beliefs that are held close to the audience. This propaganda technique appeals to the concepts of honor, glory, patriotism, the common goal of peace, freedom and family values. This technique is very obvious in the bottom slogan saying “Defend Your Country with Your Dollars”, giving the audience a sense of self responsibility to do their part in the war.

Also in the image on the poster, the technique known as demonizing the enemy is used.  In this technique the strategy is to make the individuals from the opposing nation, different ethnic group, or those who don’t support the opposing viewpoint appear subhuman. In the image America is depicted as a god like hero, a tall, muscular, white male, with a sword, ready to guard and protect “America” from demon like, figures of death and evil looking to destroy America, these figures are labeled devastation, starvation, war, and death. During the time period of WWI these labels represent the nations against the United States and their stance in the war.

Another technique used in this image is the direct order technique, which is used in hopes to simplify the decision making process by using images and words to tell the audience exactly what actions to take, eliminating any other possible choices. The direct statement or order in this technique is “If you can’t enlist-invest: Buy a Liberty Bond”, giving you two options to defend your country, if you can’t fight alongside then buy a bond and support the war. Propaganda like this left people during this time feeling as if they have a choice to make but the choice to not support the cause was not an option.


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