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1942: $9 billion victory loan drive kicks off

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, in late 1942, the United States was right at a year removed from the attack on Pearl Harbor which led to the America’s entry into World War II.

In a step to help win the war, the U.S. government kicked off a $9 billion victory loan drive, and as we detailed last time, Highland County’s quota was $882,000, which is roughly $13.4 million in today’s dollars. The plan was that the fine folks of Highland County would raise a half million dollars, and the local financial institutions would cover the rest.

Speaking of financial institutions, Merchants National Bank, Farmers & Traders National Bank and Hillsboro Bank & Savings Co. teamed up to take out an advertisement in the local newspaper detailing how the dough would be raised. Basically, the ad said to expect a knock on the door ... soon. Saying it was “essential” to borrow money “from accumulated savings and idle funds” to help win the war “more quickly and completely,” the ad said that, “During these critical weeks you probably will be visited by a representative of one of the security firms or banks which are contributing their time and effort – without compensation of any kind – to the Victory Loan Committee. He will explain to you, for instance, the benefits that you can obtain from the new Victory 2 1/2’s – available for the first time.”

What are Victory 2 1/2s? Glad you asked.

Basically, they are 26-year, 2 1⁄2-percent bonds that are due Dec. 15, 1968, callable Dec. 15, 1963.

There was no limit on the amount that folks could purchase, though they were sold in denominations from $500 to $100,000. (That was a chunk of change back then.) In the event of the death of a bondholder, the bonds would be redeemed at 100 percent and accrued interest for the purpose of satisfying federal estate taxes.

There were also two series of shorter term obligations, a 1 3⁄4-percent bond due June 15, 1948, and a 7/8-percent certificate of indebtedness due one year after issuance.

With that in mind, let’s get back to when bankers knock on the front door. When that happens, the newspaper ad exhorted residents to, “Welcome him as a war worker when he calls. If you miss him, ask your banker or security dealer for full particulars,” reiterating that, “There is no limit
to the amount you can purchase.”

Not only would buying these bonds help the war effort, it’s a good investment, according to the advertisement.

“Today, many American families are torn apart,” the ad says. “Millions have left their homes or jobs; thousands have given their lives and many more are prepared to do so. But the government, your government, is not asking you to give anything to this Nine Billion Dollar Drive. It is asking
you to lend it all of the money you can possibly invest in what is the safest investment in the world – at a good rate of interest.

“When the Victory Fund representative calls, please remember this: it is in your own interest, as well as that of your country, to listen to him – and to invest.”

Let’s take a quick look back at how the ad said “thousands” had given their lives and “many more are prepared to do so.” Turns out, from 1941-45, there were more than 405,000 U.S. deaths and 670,000 wounded in World War II.

On that somber note, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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