March 11, 1941 – President Roosevelt Signs The Lend-Lease Bill into Law

On this day in history, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt formalized a way to assist the allied forces in World War II without technically entering the war. FDR had promised to keep America out of the war in his 1940 presidential campaign, but believed the United States should serve as a “great arsenal of democracy.” Lend-Lease (P.L. 77-11, 55 Stat. 3034) authorized the President to sell, lease, or lend military hardware to any country he designated as vital to American national security.

President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease bill (1941)

President Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease bill (1941)

In support of the bill, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson had told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the debate over lend-lease:

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.”

Secretary of War Henry Stimson

Secretary of War Henry Stimson

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