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The Lend-Lease Act policy, which was formally titled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States,” was a WW2-era program in the early 1940s under which the United States supplied the United Kingdom, Free France, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with necessary wartime provisions of food, oil, and other critical materials between 1941 and August 1945. It began before the United States formally entered World War Two.

Lend-Lease Act Definition

In March 1941 the Lend-Lease Act was enacted. The United States could lend ships and other military equipment to a belligerent (primarily to Britain and China, and later to the Soviet Union). By this point, the old cash-and-carry provision introduced in 1939 had lost its usefulness for the British, who by now had no cash with which to make purchases. The Lend-Lease Act technically observed some of the neutrality requirements, since once again it did not involve the lending of money, though it seemed to disregard the previous requirement of cash payment for war matériel.


The ensuing months saw more departures from neutrality. Naval patrols were established in the Atlantic in April to alert British warships to the presence of German submarines. American troops occupied Iceland in July. The Atlantic Conference of Roosevelt and Churchill in August issued what was in effect a statement of war aims despite the fact that the United States was not actually in the war.

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