Photo via Library of Congress
Exactly 100 years ago–on October 25th, 1917–New Yorkers were celebrating “Liberty Day,” a holiday invented by the federal government to finance the massive effort of entering World War I. One third of the war’s funding would come from the imposition of progressive new taxes, while two thirds would come from selling “Liberty Bonds” to the American people. The holiday was part of an unprecedented publicity campaign to convince the public to buy the bonds. New Yorkers are notoriously hard to impress, so it’s no surprise the government rolled out all the punches: a three-engine Caproni bomber plane flew low among the skyscrapers, a parade of military motorcycles traveled up 5th Avenue, and a captured German U-boat submarine lay festooned with American flags inside Central Park.