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. This 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 aggressiona
bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of
. . . achieving a fuller and happier life for all of our citizens."
Shown here are the first and last
pages of this landmark treaty.