Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951), U*S*A Bonds- Third Liberty Loan Campaign- Boyscouts of America Weapons for Liberty, 1917, poster, 27 3/4 x 19 15/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Phillip M. Flammer.
On this day in 1918, Allied powers signed a treaty with Germany ending World War I—a prolonged struggle that resulted in an estimated 41 million casualties. After America entered the war in 1917, the U.S. government launched a broad campaign to garner support and financing for the war effort. Many artists and designers were employed by the Division of Pictorial Publicity to create hundreds of posters to endorse war causes.
This poster from the MOA collection is a promotional image from the Liberty Loan bond campaigns, which ultimately raised over $24 million dollars for the war effort. Designed by artist Joseph C. Leyendecker, the image shows a heroic, masculine Liberty figure gazing off into the distance, eyes fixed across the Atlantic towards the European battlefront. A Boy Scout lifts a long sword emblazoned with “Be prepared,” arming his allegorical protector. Such emotive images used recognizable themes and figures like Scouts and celebrities to encourage the sale of bonds.