TRU Blog

TRU Blog

From the Desk of Harry S. Truman: Signing the Foreign Assistance Act | April 3, 2017

From the Desk of Harry S. Truman: Signing the Foreign Assistance Act

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Marshall Plan

On April 3, 1948, Truman signed the Foreign Assistance Act, which provided an initial grant of $4 billion to Western Europe. By the time the program came to an end nearly four years later, more than $12 billion in foreign aid had been expended. Although the Marshall Plan had its flaws, including rampant inflation in some areas, it provided some much-needed stability and stimulation for the economies of Western Europe. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin described the Marshall Plan as “a lifeline to sinking men.” Truman issued the following statement after signing the landmark legislation:

FEW PRESIDENTS have had the opportunity to sign legislation of such importance as the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948.

The signing of this act is a momentous occasion in the world’s quest for enduring peace.

I commend the Congress of the United States for the cooperation it has evidenced in the prompt passage of this measure.

Its passage is a striking manifestation of the fact that a bipartisan foreign policy can lead to effective action. It is even more striking in its proof that swift and vigorous action for peace is not incompatible with the full operation of our democratic process of discussion and debate. Those who are skeptical of the effectiveness of a democratic system should ponder the lesson of the enactment of this measure.

Our program of foreign aid is perhaps the greatest venture in constructive statesmanship that any nation has undertaken. It is an outstanding example of cooperative endeavor for the common good.

The Foreign Assistance Act is the best answer that this country can make in reply to the vicious and distorted misrepresentations of our efforts for peace which have been spread abroad by those who do not wish our efforts to succeed. This measure is America’s answer to the challenge facing the free world today.

It is a measure for reconstruction, stability, and peace. Its purpose is to assist in the preservation of conditions under which free institutions can survive in the world. I believe that the determination of the American people to work for conditions of enduring peace throughout the world, as demonstrated by this act, will encourage free men and women everywhere, and will give renewed hope to all mankind that there will one day be peace on earth, good will among men.

NOTE: The Foreign Assistance Act of 1948 is Public Law 472, 80th Congress (62 Stat. 137)-

On April 3 the White House released the following statement by Secretary of State Marshall:

“The decision of the United States Government as confirmed by the Foreign Assistance Act  of 1948 is, I think, an historic step in the foreign policy of this country.

“The leaders in the Congress and the membership generally have faced a great crisis with courage and wisdom, and with legislative skill, richly deserving of the approval and the determined support of the people.”