Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman
A clear announcement of a new U.S. policy toward the Soviets came in early 1947, triggered by events in the eastern Mediterranean. In Greece, civil war raged between communist-backed resistance fighters and forces from Great Britain that were attempting to support British influence in Greece. Turkey had also been under British influence during World War II (1939–45) and in need of the British aid offered. On February 21, 1947, the British, greatly weakened by the expenses of World War II, announced in a message from London to Washington they could no longer send military and economic aid to Greece or Turkey. The British revealed that they would leave Greece and Turkey in six weeks, and they hoped the United States would assume responsibility for aid to the two countries.
U.S. administrative officials, including Secretary of State George C. Marshall (1880–1959) and Under-secretary Dean Acheson (1893–1971), huddled with U.S. congressional leaders. Deciding that the United States must replace the British presence, on March 12, 1947, U.S. president Harry S. Truman (1884–1972; served 1945–53) addressed Congress. The first excerpt in this chapter is from a "Special Message to the Congress on Greece and Turkey: The Truman Doctrine," published in the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1947. The Truman Doctrine proposed to aid any country in the world where free peoples were threatened by the spread of communism.
Not only were the communists gaining toeholds in Greece and Turkey but also in France and Italy. The economies of France and Italy were still suffering from the disruptions caused by World War II. When Secretary Marshall visited Europe in April 1947, he was astonished at the conditions of poverty that he saw. On June 5, Marshall gave a speech at Harvard University in which he introduced a new massive plan of U.S. aid to help Europe's economic recovery. The second excerpt in this chapter is titled "Remarks by the Honorable George C. Marshall, Secretary of State, at Harvard University on June 5, 1947." This speech is published in the 1972 document Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), Volume III, 1947: The British Commonwealth; Europe. The proposed plan quickly became known as the Marshall Plan.
The third excerpt in this chapter is from the "Special Message to the Congress on the Threat to the Freedom of Europe, March 17, 1948." This message is published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, January 1 to December 31, 1948. The message was delivered to rally Congress to pass the Marshall Plan.