The Lend-Lease Act

The Senate passed a $5.98 billion supplemental Lend-Lease Bill on October 23, 1941, bringing the United States one step closer to direct involvement in World War II. The Lend-Lease Act External, approved by Congress in March 1941, had given President Roosevelt virtually unlimited authority to direct material aid such as ammunition, tanks, airplanes, trucks, and food to the war effort in Europe without violating the nation’s official position of neutrality. The supplemental bill brought the amount of available aid to nearly $13 billion. This aid was intended to assist in the defense of nations whose security was deemed vital to the security of the United States. President Roosevelt, who favored U.S. intervention in WWII, advocated creating the program as a way to provide indirect support for the Allies without engaging the U.S. in a war for which there was not yet overwhelming public support.

Lend-Lease to Britain. English Girls, Members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, Move Armfuls of American Rifles Just Arrived from the United States under Lend-Lease. United States. Office of War Information, [between 1940 and 1946]. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division

“And so our country is going to be what our people have proclaimed it must be-the arsenal of democracy.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech on Lend-Lease Act, March 15, 1941

The United States formally entered the war itself in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

President Roosevelt Signing the Declaration of War against Germany, Dec. 11, 1941. OWI, December 1941. Chronological List of Presidents, First Ladies, and Vice Presidents of the United States: Selected Images From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Prints & Photographs Division

Initially created to help Great Britain, within months, the Lend-Lease program was expanded to include China and the Soviet Union. By the end of the war, the United States had extended over $49 billion in Lend-Lease aid to nearly forty nations.

Lend-Lease to Britain. A Shipment of 155 mm. Howitzers Just Arrived from the United States under Lend-Lease is Prepared for Service at an Ordnance Depot in England. United States. Office of War Information, [between 1940 and 1946]. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division
Cincinnati, Ohio. Preparing Canned Pork (Russian: “svinaia tushonka”) for Lend-Lease Shipment to the USSR at the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company‚Ķ. Howard R. Hollem, photographer, June 1943. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division
Baby Betty Rothwell Loves her Orange Juice. She was very thin and ailing until Lend-Lease Concentrated Orange Juice arrived in England…. United States. Office of War Information, April 1943. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Prints & Photographs Division

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