On this day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program, which provides money and materials for allies in the war, goes into effect.
The Lend-Lease program was devised by Roosevelt as a means of aiding Great Britain in its war effort against the Germans, by giving the chief executive the power to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of” any military resources the president deemed ultimately in the interest of the defense of the United States. The reasoning was that if a neighbor was successful in defending his home, the security of your home would be enhanced. It also served to bolster British morale by giving them the sense that they were no longer alone in their struggle against Hitler.
The program was finally authorized by Congress and signed into effect on March 11, 1941. By November, after a much-heated debate, Congress extended the terms of Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union, even though the 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 had been distributed to 44 countries. After the war, the Lend-Lease program morphed into the Marshall Plan, which allocated funds for the revitalization of “friendly” democratic nations—even if they were former enemies.