This Day in the Law
March 11

Lend-Lease Act Signed into Law (1941)

On March 11, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law, allowing American-built war supplies to be shipped to World War II Allied countries on loan in return for military bases.

Under the Lend-Lease Act, the United States supplied the Allied countries with huge amounts of war supplies. Most of the supplies went to the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, China, and France. A total of $50.1 billion in supplies was loaned to these countries. In return, the United Kingdom gave the U.S. military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, and the British West Indies.

The signing of the Lend-Lease act on March 11, 1941 ended American neutrality in World War II, though the U.S. did not actively start fighting in the war until the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that same year. Hitler recognized this, and began attacking unarmed U.S. merchant ships outside of the war zone. The Act was also recognized as a movement away from American non-intervention, and towards more active international involvement.

The Lend-Lease Act had a critical role in the success of the Allies in the war. Before the United States began actively fighting in the war and the burden of the fighting fell on the other Allied nations, the supplies loaned to those nations were crucial to their success. Even after the United States began fighting, supplies still flowed to other countries. In 1943, about a fourth of all British munitions came through the Lend-Lease Act.