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lend-lease

lend-lease, arrangement for the transfer of war supplies, including food, machinery, and services, to nations whose defense was considered vital to the defense of the United States in World War II. The Lend-Lease Act, passed (1941) by the U.S. Congress, gave the President power to sell, transfer, lend, or lease such war materials. The President was to set the terms for aid; repayment was to be "in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory." Harry L. Hopkins was appointed (Mar., 1941) to administer lend-lease. He was replaced (July) by Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., who headed the Office of Lend-Lease Administration, set up in Oct., 1941. In Sept., 1943, lend-lease was incorporated into the Foreign Economic Administration under Leo T. Crowley. In Sept., 1945, it was transferred to the Dept. of State. Lend-lease was originally intended for China and countries of the British Empire. In Nov., 1941, the USSR was included, and by the end of the war practically all the allies of the United States had been declared eligible for lend-lease aid. Although not all requested or received it, lend-lease agreements were signed with numerous countries. In 1942, a reciprocal aid agreement of the United States with Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and the Free French was announced. Under its terms a "reverse lend-lease" was effected, whereby goods, services, shipping, and military installations were given to American forces overseas. Other nations in which U.S. forces were stationed subsequently adhered to the agreement. On Aug. 21, 1945, President Truman announced the end of lend-lease aid. Arrangements were made—notably with Great Britain and China—to continue shipments, on a cash or credit basis, of goods earmarked for them under lend-lease appropriations. Total lend-lease aid exceeded $50 billion, of which the British Commonwealth received some $31 billion and the USSR received over $11 billion. Within 15 years after the termination of lend-lease, settlements were made with most of the countries that had received aid, although a settlement with the USSR was not reached until 1972.

See W. F. Kimball, The Most Unsordid Act (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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