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The North Atlantic Treaty

Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Washington Treaty, April 4, 1949On April 4, 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson and the foreign ministers of Canada, and 10 Western European nations (Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal) gathered in Washington, DC, to sign the North Atlantic Treaty. In his memoirs, Dean Acheson recalled "All the North Atlantic Treaty ministers met in Washington on April 2 to approve the draft treaty and arrange for its signature at a ceremony set for April 4. Here President Truman again showed his consideration for me. I had told him that it would be appropriate and fitting for him to sign the treaty on behalf of the United States, but this he refused to do. He would attend the ceremony and stand beside me as I signed, but the treaty would bear my name."

The North Atlantic alliance created a military and political complement to the Marshall Plan for European economic recovery by establishing a mutual defense pact against possible aggression from the Soviet Union. In his brief remarks at the signing ceremony, President Harry S. Truman said the treaty "would create a shield against aggression and fear of aggression—a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of . . . achieving a fuller and happier life for all of our citizens."

Article 14 of the treaty specifies that it be "deposited in the archives of the Government of the United States of America." For multilateral treaties, it is customary for one country to be designated as the depository for the original treaty and subsequent ratifications.

Shown here are the English and French versions of the Preamble and the signature pages.

The North Atlantic Treaty

Page 1 - English
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Page 1 - French
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First Signature Page
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Second Signature Page
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Third Signature Page
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Fourth Signature Page
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Fifth Signature Page
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Last Signature Page
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Washington (North Atlantic) Treaty, signed at Washington, April 4, 1949 National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

Related Links

The North Atlantic Treaty: Full Text (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

NATO at 50 (The Truman Presidential Museum & Library)

Fact Sheet: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (The Department of State)

Image Top Left:
Secretary of State Dean Acheson signs the Washington Treaty, April 4, 1949.
President Harry Truman and Vice President Alben Barkley are standing next to him.
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.

Enlarged View


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