This day in history, March 14, 1812, the United States issued the first war bonds.
By the end of 1811, the United States government had tired of seeing the nation’s merchant ships suffer at the hands of the British and French. Having already tried to retaliate through fiscal measures, namely an embargo that only served to hurt U.S. businesses, the government was on the verge of committing its military to what would be later known as the War of 1812. However, scrounging up resources for the war proved to be an issue, leading U.S. President James Madison to call on Congress to provide for means for bolstering the nation’s defenses.
On March 14, 1812, legislators heeded Madison’s plea and approved the issue of the very first war bond, worth some eleven million dollars. Over the next three years of the war, Congress would authorize six more war bonds, and also hike tariffs on imports, all in the name of another battle against Great Britain.