Arsenal of Democracy

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Arsenal of Democracy was a phrase used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945) to describe the United States as he tried to arouse popular support for sending military aid to nations fighting against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan, among others) during World War II (19391942). Reelected to an unprecedented third term in November of 1940, Roosevelt had made an unqualified campaign pledge to keep the U.S. out of the war. But by the end of the year Great Britain lacked sufficient capital to pay for war materials necessary to defend itself against German air and naval attack. Roosevelt, speaking to the nation during a fireside radio broadcast on December 29, 1940, told the American people how their country's security hinged on the survival of Great Britain. The president explained that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy" in the struggle against global tyranny and dictatorship. In March 1941 Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act, which gave the chief executive broad authority to provide Britain and its allies with munitions, petroleum, industrial materials, agricultural products, and miscellaneous other goods and services that deemed in the interest of U.S. national defense. Over the next four years the United States provided the Allied cause with 44 million rounds of ammunition, 20 million machine guns and pistols, two million trucks, 107,000 tanks, and 93,000 ships.

See also: Lend-Lease Act, Franklin D. Roosevelt, World War II