How South Carolinians Backed the War in their Communities:
"I feel that we.. .must contribute even to the point of sacrifice."
-- Gov. Robert I. Manning, May 3, 1918, to his cousin Robert C. Richardson
"Everybody ought to economize."
-- The South Carolina Handbook on the War, SC Council of Defense booklet, September 1917.
South Carolina were asked to change their daily routines during the war years to support the troops, both at home and abroad. There were several ways that state and federal governments appealed for this support but, unlike the Second World War, a formal rationing system was not implemented. Through government appeals to patriotic duty, most people in the state accepted the challenge. This included growing vegetable gardens, sometimes replacing front yards with bean, squash and carrot patches. To conserve meat and sugar in December 1917, Manning asked all South Carolinians to observe meatless Tuesdays, wheatless Wednesdays, and porkless Thursdays. In addition, families were asked to have two desertless days each week.
Most families in the state seemed to accept this appeal. In the mill town of Piedmont, in southern Greenville County, local leader Sloan Goldsmith wrote the governor in August 1917 that, "I have never saw [sic] such gardens the mill operatives... have this year. Nearly every family have [sic] raised twice as much as they can use." The surplus was canned.
Dealing with Fuel Shortages:
In the winter of 1917-18, coal supplies became so short, due to protracted strikes in the coal fields, that railroads could not stockpile a surplus. This, combined with the severe winter that year, forced the federal government to impose strict limitations on coal supplies for both homes and industry. For a brief period, some South Carolina cotton mills and oil mills had to stop production. Christmas breaks at schools and colleges across the state were lengthened to save on scarce coal reserves. For the winter, businesses were asked to shut down one day a week or go without heat if they remained open.
Gasoline reserves became short as well. To ration this fuel, Manning appealed to the people to observe "gasless Sundays." At first, most people did not honor the request. But as the war came to an end, more South Carolinians seemed to heed the governor's appeal.
Liberty Bonds: Financial backing for the war:
"Buy a Bond for Baby" -- Popular slogan used to encourage Americans to buy Liberty bonds.
"... German Spy doggone, begone; Or I will smack your face with a liberty bond."
-- Portions of a poem entitled "A Black Man's Reply to a German Spy," Greenville News, October 19, 1918.
To help the government finance the war effort, every American was asked to buy bonds or war stamps, and every state had a quota to reach set by Washington. During the four Liberty Loan drives of the war, the Palmetto State was asked to raise $74.5 million. South Carolinians exceeded this by nearly $6 million. Although the first two drives in 1917 fell short of their goals, the last two in April 1918 and September 1918 exceeded their quotas. The better response in the last year of the war was attributed, in part, to American troops finally getting to the fight on the western front.
Each Liberty Loan or Bond drive was designated to raise money for the government to pay for the war material and training needed for the expansion of the armed forces. The first Loan Drive issued $5 billion in bonds at 3.5 percent return. The next two, October 1, 1917 and April 5, 1918, offered $3 bullion each at 4 and 4.5 percent return respectively. The last drive, September 28, 1918, offered $6 billion at 4.25 percent. In April 1919, after the armistice, the government arranged a fifth drive, called a Victory Loan, to aid it further in covering its war costs. It was not as successful as the last two Liberty Bond drives.