The Battle of Britain was in its full destructive swing and Hitler seemed on the verge of invading Great Britain and other allies. The allies were in desperate need of airplanes, tanks, ships, and material goods to fight off  Hitler’s menacing invasion.

At the time, the United States was not economically or mentally ready for war; as some were still shaken from World War I, twenty-one years before, which created conflict in helping our allies, or saving ourselves. The Lend-Lease Act, passed by Congress in 1941, was a compromise that allowed the United States to provide aid to the Allies, while avoiding full involvement in the upcoming war. Without the shipments of Lend-lease, the Allies would not have been able to oppose the German invaders and played a crucial role in winning the war.ContextAs the British began running short of money, arms, and other supplies, Prime Minister Winston Churchill began pressing President Roosevelt for urgent help. Roosevelt wanted to help but the Neutrality Acts forbade arm sales on credit or the loaning of money to hostile nations.Britain had been paying for its material in gold under “cash and carry”, as required by the U.S.

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Neutrality Acts of the 1930s. As they began drowning in invasions, Britain had liquidated so many assets that it was running short of cash. During the same period, the United States began to mobilize for war, increasing their defense budget from $2 billion to $10 billion. In the meantime, the British began running short of money, arms, and other supplies. Britain’s plea for American help challenged President Roosevelt to resolve the issue keeping the public opinion and the Neutrality Acts in mind. The fate of these nations tells us what it means to live at the point of a Nazi gun.

Roosevelt eventually came up with the idea of “Lend-Lease”. The Lend-Lease Act, proposed in 1940 and  approved by Congress in 1941, gave 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 America’s official position of neutrality. Supplies such as motor vehicles and railroad equipment became very useful in transporting goods and material arms across the Allied countries.

The agreement was significant not only because the president, in concluding an executive agreement, had bypassed Congress, but because it constituted a virtual act of war-a total abandonment of any pretense of neutrality. By 1945 the Lend-Lease program had costed the United States $49.1 billion, and over 40 nations had received aid in its name.

The Lend-Lease Act proposed a vastly expanded role much like Social Security and other New Deal programs for the U.S. government, especially the president. As President Roosevelt did in other advocating programs, he employed fireside chats, press conferences, and the State of the Union addresses to gain support for Lend-Lease. He even went as far as to employ the same photography unit that had documented the Farm Security Administration, to use their photographic talents toward documenting and thereby advancing the program. Roosevelt had promoted the program just as he had promoted the New Deal legislation.

He used folksy analogies in his speeches to help people understand his point of view and get his main message across while still advancing his idea towards the public. In support of Lend-Lease program, Roosevelt coined the phrase “Arsenal of Democracy”. He believed and asserted that the United States should not be neutral in the world, but, while still keeping our troops at home, it should assume an active role in arming and supporting countries that were actively defending democracy.

President Roosevelt gained the authority to extend material support to foreign nations as he chose, though with Congressional oversight. Initially intended to help Great Britain, the Lend-Lease program was expanded within months to include China and the Soviet Union; as they were also being attacked. The Lend-Lease Act was meant to specifically deal with Axis powers; however it also established an exemplar of presidential power in international politics as well as military. Future presidents such as John F. Kennedy in Vietnam to Ronald Reagan in Iraq continued to exercise the power to provide military and material arms to the betterment of nations that have been threatened by anti-democratic forces.Conflict After the Fall of France in June 1940, the British Commonwealth and Empire were the only forces engaged in war against Germany and Italy. Britain had been buying material arms and goods from the United States under “cash and carry” as required by the Neutrality Acts.

Heavy spending caused a shortage of materials in Britain while the Germans never ceased their attacks. As the British began running short of money, arms, and other supplies, their plea grew stronger. The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear that they intend not only to dominate all life and thought in their own country, but also to enslave the whole of Europe,.

… Prime Minister Winston Churchill began pressing President Roosevelt for urgent help. Roosevelt wanted to help but the Neutrality Acts forbade arm sales on credit or the loaning of money to hostile nations.

The public and Congressional opinion was and including factor as well. As Britain waited for a solution, the war progressed for the worse. World War II came to be known as the deadliest conflict in human history. Starvation, disease, nuclear weapons, and massacres attacked the Allies. At the brink of war, the Neutrality Act prevented all hope from reaching the Allies. The Germans spread their attacks across the globe, as chaos and confusion invaded all that cried for help.Compromise Roosevelt was personally sympathetic to Britain’s cause and recognised the United States interests of neutrality were at stake.

However there was a strong body of opinion in America, that if not isolationists, they were non-interventionists. There were also legal difficulties that prevented direct aid to Britain that was paid for by the United States as a proposition. On a cruise in the Caribbean, Roosevelt hit upon a solution:the United States would produce the implements of war and “lend” them in massive amounts to the British. Roosevelt’s solution was Lend-Lease, whereby Britain and other nations would be loaned war aid. This system still required legislation, but seemed less radical than direct aid.

He persuaded the American people with his speech on December 17, 1940. He continued to imply that the way to stay out of the war was to draw closer to it. The Lend-Lease Act was passed by Congress on March 11, 1941. Britain did not see the material benefits for many months after that; nevertheless its was a very important signal that Britain would be able to keep fighting long term.Refusal of American Citizens In December 1940, President Roosevelt proclaimed that the U.S.

would be the “Arsenal of Democracy”, that would eventually save the allies by selling munitions to Britain and Canada. This created more conflict as Americans strongly opposed involvement, in what they portrayed as  European conflict. American citizens; most still devastated from World War I, were strongly against participation of American troops in a European war.

Many families, if not out, had just gotten out of the Great Depression, and the thought of another war with its costs shocked citizens as a possibility. It could bring the United States to its knees once more. Propaganda showing the devastation of Britain during The Blitz, changed the hearts and shifted the opinions of Americans, which rallied public opinion to the side of the Allies.  Impact Although Lend-Lease seemed like the perfect solution, many problems had risen.

Many countries developed a hatred to the United States, such as Germany and Japan. Most remaining Allies were self-sufficient even after the Lend-Lease ended. Lend-Lease paved the way for the U.S. to become a main World War II combatant. The Lend-Lease Act was probably of great significance to Japanese oil embargo.

This US oil embargo directly caused the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, British Malaya, US Philippines, and their main target Dutch East Indies with its oil sources. Lend-Lease benefited those who partook in it. Britain and the Soviet Union have benefited the most. The Lend-Lease Act determined the fate of those who received from it. About ninety percent of the Soviet Union’s war supplies came from Lend-Lease, and they received only one-third of what Britain received.

According to many, the Lend-Lease Act played a crucial war in winning the war. Conclusion and Analysis World War II devastated Western Europe, inflicting a staggering death toll on combatants and civilians. The Axis powers destroyed homes, buildings, factories, and lives across the continent. In the 1940 presidential election campaign, President Roosevelt promised to keep America out of the war. Nevertheless, he wanted to support Britain and believed that the United States should serve as a great arsenal of democracy.

Following up on his campaign pledge, Roosevelt proposed to Congress a new military aid bill. The plan proposed was to lend or otherwise dispose of arms to a country whose security was vital to the United States defense. Following two months of the debate, Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act meeting Great Britain’s deep need for supplies as the United States prepared for war, remaining officially neutral.  The Lend-Lease Act made a huge impact on the way we regulate war aid. It was a factor that many say helped the Allies defeat the Axis powers in World War II.

President Roosevelt showed an example of presidential power in international politics, as well as military. Many presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan continue to use that presidential power for the good of their nation, and the world. Bills such as Lend-Lease have benefited many nations and was truly a compromise in a worldwide conflict.


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