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Rare Chance to View Original NATO Treaty
Press Release · Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Washington, DC

"By this treaty, we are not only seeking to establish freedom from aggression and from the use of force in the North Atlantic community, but we are also actively striving to promote and preserve peace throughout the world."   Harry S. Truman, August 24, 1949

The National Archives honors the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, and the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Ministerial meetings, with a special featured document display of the NATO Treaty.  This display is free and open to the public and will be shown in the West Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Museum through April 2, 2019.  See related National Archives News story here

The North Atlantic Treaty--the first peacetime military alliance ever concluded by the United States--was signed by the foreign ministers of the twelve signatory nations on April 4, 1949, at the Mellon Auditorium near the White House. Secretary of State Dean Acheson signed for the United States, with President Truman standing beside him. Just prior to the signing of the treaty, Truman spoke to the foreign ministers and the others present in the auditorium. "In this pact," he said, "we hope to create a shield against aggression and the fear of aggression--a bulwark which will permit us to get on with the real business of government and society, the business of achieving a fuller and happier life for all our citizens."

On April 4, 1949, in his brief remarks at the treaty signing ceremony, President Harry S. Truman said the North Atlantic 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.”

On display is Article 5 of the treaty which reads: "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all….”

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

The twelve original signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty were Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Iceland, Canada, and the United States. Greece and Turkey were added to the alliance in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955, and Spain in 1982, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), and Montenegro (2017).

Related online resources:

The Big Picture - Why North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?, Department of Defense film with partial narration by Edward R. Murrow

See full Treaty text online

National Archives Presents Rare Chance to View NATO Treaty!  National Archives News story

Select NATO documents from the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library

Documents on Participation by the United States in NATO (from the Department of State)

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The building is open 10 AM—5:30 PM daily, and is fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. For upcoming programs, visit the Calendar of Events online. 

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This page was last reviewed on April 2, 2019.
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