March 1941 - Lend Lease Passed

Presdient Roosevel Signing Lend Lease

With the war going badly for the British, it was clear that Great Britain would require assistance from the United States. The British were running out of money to pay for the arms they were buying. President Roosevelt, therefore, went before the country in a Fireside Chat, in which he called for America to become an "arsenal of Democracy".

Roosevelt then introduced a bill to Congress on January 8, 1941, providing the president with the power to lend military equipment to countries that the president believed were in need.
The bill passed the House 260-165 and the Senate 60 to 31, with votes split primarily on party lines.

By the end of the war the United States had provided the following aid:

Great Britain.............$31 billion
Soviet Union.............$11 billion
France...................... ..$ 3 billion
China........................$1.5 billion
Other European..........$ 500 million
South America.............$400 million

The amount totaled: $48,601,365,000.


With the November election behind him, Roosevelt was in a quandary as to how best help the British who were rapidly running out of money to pay for their armaments. In December, Roosevelt left on an extended cruise to the Caribbean to rest; the only aid he took with him was Hopkins. During the cruise he received a long letter from Churchill outlining Britain's strategies as well as its dire financial circumstances. Roosevelt read the letter many times. Then as Hopkins stated: "One evening he suddenly came out with it- the whole program. He didn't seem to have any clear idea, as to how it could be done legally. But there wasn't a doubt in his mind, he'd find a way to do it."

His idea was lend lease. As he stated in a White House Press confrence on December 17, 1940: "What I am trying to do is eliminate the dollar sign. All right! Well let me give you an illustration: Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire... if he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have got to pay me $15 for it. I don't want $15 - I want my garden hose back. In other words, if you lend certain munitions and the munitions come back at the end of the war, you are all right."

In his State of the Union Address to Congress on January 6th Roosevelt outlined the Four Freedoms that the people of the world were entitled to: Freedom of Speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Despite being attacked from isolationists, Lend Lease was passed by Congress. The house passed it 260-165 and the Senate 60 to 31.