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Lend-Lease Act

Franklin D Roosevelt

Lend-Lease Act: Franklin D Roosevelt was the 32nd American President who served in office from March 4, 1933 to April 12, 1945. One of the important events during his presidency was the Lend-Lease Act of 1941.

Definition and Summary of the Lend-Lease Act
Summary and definition:
The Lend-Lease Act was enacted on March 11, 1941 and was formally entitled "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States". The Lend-Lease Act removed the cash requirement of the Neutrality Acts allowing the British and other allies continued access to American arms, munitions and supplies despite their rapidly deteriorating financial situation.

The provisions of the Lend-Lease Act provided that the US could ship weapons, food, or equipment to any country whose struggle against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan assisted U.S. defense.

Facts about Lend-Lease Act
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Lend-Lease Act.

The 1939 Neutrality Act eliminated the ban on arms sales to nations at war but still included a "cash and carry" provision. If an allied nation (Britain or France) wanted to buy items from the US, it had to pay cash and send its own ships to pick up the goods.

By December 1940 Great Britain had run out of money to buy the arms needed to continue its desperate fight against Germany. It could no longer afford to pay cash for US arms and munitions as required by the Neutrality Acts.

President Roosevelt won the 1940 presidential election and the general acceptance of the 'Destroyers for Bases' deal marked a shift away from Isolationism and the neutral position of the United States. FDR began to expand the nation's role in the war and providing help to the Allies.

In May 1941 President Roosevelt used a loophole in the Neutrality Acts to set up the Destroyers-for-Bases deal with Great Britain by which the US sent 50 old American destroyers to Great Britain in exchange for the right to build American bases on British controlled islands in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean. As the 'Destroyers for Bases' deal did not involve the actual sale of the US destroyers the Neutrality Acts did not apply.

But the greater part of US help was provided under the Lend-Lease Act, "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States".

Critics of the bill included the 'America First Committee' a group who favored Isolationism and staunchly opposed US intervention or aid to the allies. FDR responded to the critics by stating that help to keep the British fighting would make it unnecessary for Americans to go to war.

The 1941 Lend-Lease Act allowed President Roosevelt to authorize the transfer of military materials to Great Britain with the understanding that they would ultimately be paid for, or returned if they were not destroyed.

FDR created the Office of Lend-Lease Administration under the leadership of Edward R. Stettinius, a former steel industry executive

The biggest problem was how Americans could help to get the war supplies across the Atlantic to Great Britain. British cargo ships were under constant attack by German U-Boat submarines and their precious cargoes were being sunk.

The United States was still technically neutral so FDR was unable to order the US Navy to protect the British cargo ships. He therefore declared the western half of the Atlantic as neutral and ordered the US Navy to patrol what he called the 'Hemispheric Defense Zone' and then report the location of German submarines to the British.

In April 1941, FDR expanded the program by offering lend-lease aid to China for their war against the Japanese

In June 1941 Germany launched a massive invasion of the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill detested Stalin and the communists but vowed that any country who fought against Nazism would have his support. FDR supported Churchill's view and extended Lend-Lease aid to the USSR.

Almost 50% of U.S. Lend-Lease shipments consisted of munitions meaning all kinds of weapons, ammunition and war machinery, such as tanks, warplanes and warships. Other shipments included fuels, industrial machinery, raw materials and food products.

The Lend-Lease program continued after the US entry into the war following the Attack on Pearl Harbor in December 7, 1941.

As the war continued engulfing almost all regions of the world, the number of Lend-Lease recipients grew, eventually including more than 30 countries

In 1942, a reciprocal aid agreement or "reverse lend-lease" was made between the United States with Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Free French. Under the "reverse lend-lease" terms goods, services, shipping, and military installations were given to American forces overseas

The Lend-Lease program substantially strengthened the Allies, especially Great Britain and the Soviet Union, in their fight against Nazi Germany. Refer to US Mobilization for WW2.

US American History
1929-1945: Depression & WW2

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