United War Fund

Oct 4, 2018

Three days after the drive for the Fourth Liberty Loan began on September 28, 1918, the citizens of North Dakota had subscribed to $12 million of the state’s $19 million quota. But liberty loans involved redeemable bonds. Although the sale of bonds tied up personal finances, the money would eventually be returned with interest, and the end of the war appeared to be in sight.    

The Allies were driving the Germans back to, and beyond, the Hindenburg Line, but it came at a cost.  Casualty lists were swelling, but this reality of war also spurred the desire for North Dakotans to donate.  When the first combat death of a North Dakota boy was announced in February, the number of Red Cross members grew substantially. As a result, over $600,000 worth of goods was produced by North Dakota units of the Red Cross over the next seven months.

The escalating tempo of the war was rapidly draining the funds of the many organizations supporting the troops.  With the Fourth Liberty Loan drive nearing completion, organizations such as the Red Cross, were planning to begin campaigns of their own. They desperately needed to solicit donations to fund their activities on the battlefields of France and in the encampments stateside. The people of North Dakota, like their fellow Americans, had been asked to dig deeply, including a recent campaign asking famers to donate the yield from a number of acres to the Red Cross. The needs of all of the organizations were increasing dramatically, while the ability of people to support every cause was decreasing.

On September 5, President Woodrow Wilson suggested that instead of mounting separate campaigns, the major organizations combine into a United War Work Campaign. Seven organizations which to­gether would make this united appeal were the YMCA, the YWCA, the Na­tional Catholic War Council, the Jewish Welfare Board, the War Camp Community Service, the American Library Association and the Salvation Army. Over one hundred and seventy million dollars were needed, and North Dakotans were being asked for $675,000, or one dollar for every man, woman and child in the state. The new slogan was, "It can be done, it must be done, it will be done." Since time was needed to set up the combined drive, ironically, the kick-off date was set for November 11, which would turn out to be the date of the armistice.

Dakota Datebook by Jim Davis

Sources:

The Washburn Leader, September 13, 1918

The Bismarck Tribune, September 30, 1918