Ethnic Fundraising in America and the Irish and Lithuanian Wars of Independence, 1918–1923

R. J. C Adams, Vaida Nikšaite

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The close of the First World War signalled a proliferation of newly established nation states across Europe. However, the unilateral proclamations of these states’ independence did not guarantee their international recognition, nor did it guarantee their financial viability. This paper examines the funding of two such states: the unrecognised Lithuanian (1919-23) and Irish (1919-21) republics. Both funded their wars of independence by selling ‘war bonds’ to their respective diasporas in the United States; the Lithuanians raising almost $1.9m from ca. 28,000 subscribers and the Irish raising $5.8m from ca. 300,000 subscribers. Communication between the organisers of these bond drives was virtually non-existent, but following the example of the US Liberty Loans they employed remarkably similar tactics. Yet, issued by self-proclaimed nation states with neither territorial integrity nor a credible history of borrowing, the Lithuanian and Irish war bonds promised a return only when the states had received international recognition. In this sense, they were examples of what the authors term ‘Pre-Sovereign Debt’. Practically, they were a focal point for agitation for governmental recognition and rousing of American public opinion. Symbolically, they were tangible representations of the Lithuanian and Irish pretensions to statehood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-729
JournalHistorical Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2022


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