Study Guide

The Lend-Lease Act Quotes

By The United States Congress, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  • Warfare

    Be it enacted by the Senate add House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States". (1)

    It's interesting to notice how war almost inevitably is started in the name of "defense." Take, for example, the very name Nazi Germany gave to its army: Wehrmacht, or "defense force." The Wehrmacht, probably more than any other army in history, was an invading force. In Nazi ideology, however, its many invasions were necessary for the preservation of their heritage or whatever.

    Anyway, the American use of the word "defense" was entirely appropriate, although the Lend-Lease Act was mostly about keeping the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China alive in the face of enormous military losses.

    (b) The terms and conditions upon which any such foreign government receives any aid authorized under subsection (a) shall be those which the President deems satisfactory, and the benefit to the United States may he payment or repayment in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory. (5.b.)

    During wartime, it seems to be necessary to give the highest executive a lot of leeway in making decisions, because as we know, if everything had to go through Congress, the war effort wouldn't be able to get off the ground.

    (d) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of convoying vessels by naval vessels of the United States.

    (e) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of the entry of any American vessel into a combat area in violation of section 3 of the neutrality Act of 1939. (5.d-e.)

    These clauses were put in there to give credence to the idea that America wasn't really getting in the war. Think of it as a reassuring pat on the head for both domestic isolationists and the Axis powers.

    SEC. 8. The Secretaries of War and of the Navy are hereby authorized to purchase or otherwise acquire arms, ammunition, and implements of war produced within the jurisdiction of any country to which section 3 is applicable, whenever the President deems such purchase or acquisition to be necessary in the interests of the defense of the United States. (8)

    This section opens up the war trade between the Allies, allowing them to exchange weapons and technologies even more openly than they had before then.

    SEC. 10. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to change existing law relating to the use of the land and naval forces of the United States, except insofar as such use relates to the manufacture, procurement, and repair of defense articles, the communication of information and other non-combatant purposes enumerated in this Act. (1)

    Another section to minimize the diplomatic impact of the act.

  • Passivity

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of convoying vessels by naval vessels of the United States. (5.d)

    Just because the U.S. is willing to help out a friendly country in need, doesn't mean its Navy is going to accompany anything, especially not other nation's boats, through international waters. So, don't be getting any funny ideas…

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or to permit the authorization of the entry of any American vessel into a combat area in violation of section 3 of the neutrality Act of 1939. (5.e.)

    Again, you can pick apart this text any which way you please, but you won't find anything here suggesting the Navy will do so much as even dip the big toe of its youngest recruit into enemy waters.

    The President may, from time to time, promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out any of the provisions of this Act; and he may exercise any power or authority conferred on him by this Act through such department, agency, or officer as be shall direct. (9)

    In the context of the Lend-Lease Act, Mr. President is gonna do what Mr. President wants to do, or get someone else to do it for him. For better or worse...

    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to change existing law relating to the use of the land and naval forces of the United States, except insofar as such use relates to the manufacture, procurement, and repair of defense articles, the communication of information and other noncombatant purposes enumerated in this Act. (10)

    There are a lot of these "nothing in the Act" statements going on here, which tells us that the writers were being extremely careful about how they put together this text, probably because one tiny slip up could trigger an unwanted declaration of war. Too bad the Germans considered the Lend-Lease arrangement a declaration of war anyway.

    If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision to any circumstance shall be held invalid, the validity of the remainder of the Act and the applicability of such provision to other circumstances shall not be affected thereby. (11)

    Unlike a line of dominos, in which the tipping of one brings down the entire arrangement, the Lend-Lease Act is far more stable. This clause at the end of the text is sort of like an insurance policy to prevent to the possible collapse of the entire bill in case one part of it goes sour. Smart move for a tricky maneuver.

  • Good vs. Evil

    [...] this Act may be cited as "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States". (1)

    It may also be cited by its longer, less known title, "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States Against the Forces of Darkness."

    To manufacture in arsenals, factories, and shipyards under their jurisdiction, or otherwise procure, to the extent to which funds are made available therefor, or contracts are authorized from time to time by the Congress, or both, any defense article for the government of any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States. (3.a.1)

    Fisticuffs might have worked in the old days, but a set of bare knuckles and a bad attitude aren't gonna cut it in 20th-century warfare. Instead, all of America's infrastructural and industrial resources were deployed for the defense of worldwide democracy.

    The terms and conditions upon which any such foreign government receives any aid authorized under subsection (a) shall be those which the President deems satisfactory, and the benefit to the United States may he payment or repayment in kind or property, or any other direct or indirect benefit which the President deems satisfactory. (5.b)

    Who said being the good guy came for free? The U.S. might have doled out (literally) tons of war materials as a result of Lend-Lease agreements with foreign nations, but it certainly wasn't charity. This little section of the act suggests that, for the most part, the U.S. expected repayment for all that world-saving help, and that reimbursement would be accepted in many forms.

    The Secretaries of War and of the Navy are hereby authorized to purchase or otherwise acquire arms, ammunition, and implements of war produced within the jurisdiction of any country to which section 3 is applicable, whenever the President deems such purchase or acquisition to be necessary in the interests of the defense of the United States. (8)

    The battle between good and evil is expensive, and it requires lots and lots and lots of weapons. Sure the U.S. is good (maybe too good) at manufacturing these weapons, but sometimes it's just easier to buy them from somewhere else. Sort of like when you just buy a new outfit because all of your other clothes are dirty. That's what is going on here, except with guns.

    The President may, from time to time, promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper to carry out any of the provisions of this Act; and he may exercise any power or authority conferred on him by this Act through such department, agency, or officer as be shall direct. (9)

    Yeah, we've seen this quote already, but it's weird enough to give it another look. From the thematic perspective of good versus evil, it's pretty clear that the authors of the Lend-Lease Act felt they were on the right side of the fight, and therefore so was the president. It's almost as if they are saying that he could do no wrong. History is a funny thing.

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