On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program is brought before the U.S. Congress for consideration.
Roosevelt devised the Lend-Lease program as a means of aiding Great Britain in its war effort against the Germans. The program gave the chief executive the power to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of” any military resources he deemed in the ultimate interest of the defense of the United States. The idea was that if Britain were better able to defend itself, the security of the U.S. would be enhanced. The program also served to bolster British morale, as they would no longer feel alone in their struggle against Hitler.
Congress authorized the program on March 11. By November, after much heated debate, Congress extended the terms of Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union, even though Stalin’s USSR had already been the recipient of American military weapons and had been promised $1 billion in financial aid.
By the end of the war, more than $50 billion in funds, weapons, aircraft, and ships were distributed to 44 countries through the program. After the war, the Lend-Lease program morphed into the Marshall Plan, which allocated funds for the revitalization of “friendly” democratic nations.