policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against
hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.
of State George C. Marshall describing the
goals of the Economic Recovery Plan, June 5, 1947
War II ended in 1945, Europe lay in ruins: its cities were shattered;
its economies were devastated; its people faced famine. The Soviet
Unions control of Eastern Europe and the vulnerability of
Western European countries to Soviet expansionism heightened the
sense of crisis. To meet this emergency, Secretary of State George
Marshall proposed in a speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947,
that European nations create a plan for their economic reconstruction
and that the United States provide economic assistance. On December
19, 1947, President Harry Truman sent Congress a message that followed
Marshalls ideas to provide economic aid to Europe. Congress
overwhelmingly passed the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, and
on April 3, 1948, President Truman signed the Act that became known
as the Marshall Plan.
Over the next
4 years, Congress appropriated $13.3 billion for European recovery.
This aid provided much needed capital and materials that enabled
Europeans to rebuild the continents economy. For the United
States, the Marshall Plan provided markets for American goods, created
reliable trading partners, and supported the development of stable
democratic governments in Western Europe. Congresss approval
of the Marshall Plan signaled an extension of the bipartisanship
of World War II into the postwar years.