History Timeline 1940's

Troops from the United States and other Allied nations land on the beach at Normandy, France in 1944, beginning the western European invasion that would lead to defeat of Nazi Germany.

World War II, Invading Africa

U.S. Timeline - The 1940s

World War II



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  • 1941 Detail

    March 11, 1941 - The Lend-Lease Act is approved, which provided $7 billion in military credits for American manufactured war supplies to Great Britain and other allies; in the fall, a similar Lend-Lease pact would be approved for the USSR with a $1 billion loan.

    Howitzers for Britain, Lend-Lease Act


    Although Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been trying to straddle the line between neutrality and assisting what would become true allies several months later, it was becoming imperative that at worst, a large quantity of munitions would be needed by the nations of Europe, besides his modest effort in 1940 with Great Britain, to thwart the offensive machine of the German Army. What had prompted this change of pace? In July 1940, over ten days, the German Navy had destroyed eleven British destroyers. Roosevelt got a call for help from Prime Minister Churchill and an agreement was brokered between the two leaders, sans Congress, to exchange fifty United States destroyers for the ninety-nine year rights to bases in the Caribbean and Newfoundland.

    This action brought the debate between strict neutrality and aiding the British war effort back to the fore, all within the context of Roosevelt's own campaign pledge that no U.S. soldiers would be sent to fight in a foreign war. But he was willing to be their arsenel. An additional problem was, with Great Britain's effort already going toward two years, they were broke. The cash and carry policy of before was no longer tenable.

    On January 10, 1941, President Roosevelt asked the House of Representatives for a new aid bill, which he called "lend-lease or otherwise dispose of arms," to any nation whose security was vital to the defense of the United States. I.E., before Germany, or its allies could threaten United States territory, Roosevelt would arm the nations defending themselves and occupying Germany's attention.

    Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson supported the bill with a quick rationale, "We are buying...not lending. We are buying our own security while we prepare. By our delay during the past six years, while Germany was preparing, we find ourselves unprepared and unarmed, facing a thoroughly prepared and armed potential enemy."

    For two months Congress debated the bill, eventually settling on the Lend-Lease policy at a cost of $7 billion. So what did Lend-Lease actually mean, ... Roosevelt would accept payment after the fact, because he would not allow his allied nations to have to surrender because of an inability to pay at the moment. It was passed by the Senate on March 8, 1941, and signed into law on March 11, 1941.

    By October, FDR and Congress understood that the aid package would not be enough and passed a supplemental bill. It included $5.98 billion more in aid with passage on October 23, 1941. This now included nations such as Russia, which received $1 billion in military and food assistance, and China. Before the end of the war, the United States Lend-Lease programs would provide $49 billion in aid to forty nations.




    Full Text - Lend Lease Act 1941


    A BILL

    Further to promote the defense of the United States, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States".

    SEC. 2. As used in this Act -

    (a) The term "defense article" means -

    (1) Any weapon, munition. aircraft, vessel, or boat;

    (2) Any machinery, facility, tool, material, or supply necessary for the manufacture, production, processing, repair, servicing, or operation of any article described in this subsection;

    (3) Any component material or part of or equipment for any article described in this subsection;

    (4) Any agricultural, industrial or other commodity or article for defense.

    Such term "defense article" includes any article described in this subsection: Manufactured or procured pursuant to section 3, or to which the United States or any foreign government has or hereafter acquires title, possession, or control.

    (b) The term "defense information" means any plan, specification, design, prototype, or information pertaining to any defense article.

    SEC. 3. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, the President may, from time to time. when he deems it in the interest of national defense, authorize the Secretary Of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or the bead of any other department or agency of the Government -

    (1) To manufacture in arsenals, factories, and shipyards under their jurisdiction, or otherwise procure, to the extent to which funds are made available therefor, or contracts are authorized from time to time by the Congress, or both, any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States.

    (2) To sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government any defense article, but no defense article not manufactured or procured under paragraph (1) shall in any way be disposed of under this paragraph, except after consultation with the Chief of Staff of the Army or the Chief of Naval Operations of the Navy, or both. The value of defense articles disposed of in any way under authority of this paragraph, and procured from funds heretofore appropriated, shall not exceed $1,300,000,000. The value of such defense articles shall be determined by the head of the department or agency concerned or such other department, agency or officer as shall be designated in the manner provided in the rules and regulations issued hereunder. Defense articles procured from funds hereafter appropriated to any department or agency of the Government, other than from funds authorized to he appropriated under this Act. shall not be disposed of in any way under authority of this paragraph except to the extent hereafter authorized by the Congress in the Acts appropriating such funds or otherwise.

    (3) To test, inspect, prove, repair, outfit, recondition, or otherwise to place in good working order, to the extent to which funds are made available therefor, or contracts are authorized from time to time by the Congress, or both, any defense article for any such government, or to procure any or all such services by private contract.

    (4) To communicate to any such government any defense information pertaining to any defense article furnished to such government under paragraph (2) of this subsection.

    (5) To release for export any defense article disposed of in any way under this subsection to any such government.

    (b) The terms and conditions upon which any such foreign government receives any aid authorized under subsection (a) shall be those which the President deems satisfactory, and the benefit to the United States may he payment or repayment in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory.

    (c) After June 30, 1943, or after the passage of a concurrent resolution by the two Houses before June 30, 1943, which declares that the powers conferred by or pursuant to subsection (a) are no longer necessary to promote the defense of the United States, neither the President nor the head of any department or agency shall exercise any of the powers conferred by or pursuant to subsection (a) except that until July 1, 1946, any of such powers may be exercised to the extent necessary to carry out a contract or agreement with such a foreign government made before July 1,1943, or before the passage of such concurrent resolution, whichever is the earlier.

    (d) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of convoying vessels by naval vessels of the United States.

    (e) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of the entry of any American vessel into a combat area in violation of section 3 of the neutrality Act of 1939.

    SEC. 4 All contracts or agreements made for the disposition of any defense article or defense information pursuant to section 3 shall contain a clause by which the foreign government undertakes that it will not, without the consent of the President, transfer title to or possession of such defense article or defense information by gift, sale, or otherwise, or permit its use by anyone not an officer, employee, or agent of such foreign government.

    SEC. 5. (a) The Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or the head of any other department or agency of the Government involved shall when any such defense article or defense information is exported, immediately inform the department or agency designated by the President to administer section 6 of the Act of July 2, 1940 (54 Stat. 714). of the quantities, character, value, terms of disposition and destination of the article and information so exported.

    (b) The President from time to time, but not less frequently than once every ninety days, shall transmit to the Congress a report of operations under this Act except such information as he deems incompatible with the public interest to disclose. Reports provided for under this subsection shall be transmitted to the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of representatives, as the case may be, if the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, is not in session.

    SEC. 6. (a) There is hereby authorized to be appropriated from time to time, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such amounts as may be necessary to carry out the provisions and accomplish the purposes of this Act.

    (b) All money and all property which is converted into money received under section 3 from any government shall, with the approval of the Director of the Budget. revert to the respective appropriation or appropriations out of which funds were expended with respect to the defense article or defense information for which such consideration is received, and shall be available for expenditure for the purpose for which such expended funds were appropriated by law, during the fiscal year in which such funds are received and the ensuing fiscal year; but in no event shall any funds so received be available for expenditure after June 30, 1946.

    SEC. 7. The Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, and the head of the department or agency shall in all contracts or agreements for the disposition of any defense article or defense information fully protect the rights of all citizens of the United States who have patent rights in and to any such article or information which is hereby authorized to he disposed of and the payments collected for royalties on such patents shall be paid to the owners and holders of such patents.

    SEC. 8. The Secretaries of War and of the Navy are hereby authorized to purchase or otherwise acquire arms, ammunition, and implements of war produced within the jurisdiction of any country to which section 3 is applicable, whenever the President deems such purchase or acquisition to be necessary in the interests of the defense of the United States.

    SEC. 9. The President may, from time to time, promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out any of the provisions of this Act; and he may exercise any power or authority conferred on him by this Act through such department, agency, or officer as be shall direct.

    SEC. 10. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to change existing law relating to the use of the land and naval forces of the United States, except insofar as such use relates to the manufacture, procurement, and repair of defense articles, the communication of information and other noncombatant purposes enumerated in this Act.

    SEC 11. If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any circumstance shall be held invalid, the validity of the remainder of the Act and the applicability of such provision to other circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

    Approved, March 11, 1941.

    Photo above: Photograph of Howitzers in English warehouse sent by the United States under the Lend-Lease program, 1940-46, Office of War Information/Farm Security Administration. Courtesy Library of Congress. Image below: Food for Russians in Lend-Lease Program, including Pork from the Kroger Grocery and Baking Company, Cincinnati, 1943, Howard R. Hollem, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information. Courtesy Library of Congress. Info source: Archives.gov; "Lend-Lease Act of 1941," History, Art, and Archives, House of Representatives; Library of Congress; "The Lend-Lease Program 1941-1945," Mark Seidl, FDRlibrary.org; Wikipedia Commons.


    Food for Russians in Lend-Lease Act







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