Cash and carry (World War II)

The policy of cash and carry during the onset of World War II in 1939 revised the Neutrality Acts that were established by US President Roosevelt. The revision allowed the sale of material to belligerents, as long as the recipients arranged for the transport and paid immediately in cash. The purpose was to instill a sense of neutrality between the United States and European countries while still giving aid to Britain. Previous policies forbade selling weapons or lending money to belligerent countries under any terms. The economic situation in the US was rebounding at this time (after the Great Depression) but there was still a need for industrial manufacturing jobs. The Cash and Carry program helped to solve this issue and in turn Great Britain benefited from the purchase of arms and other goods. This act also made sure that the US did not give away all its supplies and rations.

The program was aimed at preventing US intervention in the war, and required the buyers to send their own ships to US ports, avoiding the threat of US ships being sunk. The program also required all payments in cash currency, rather than on credit - this prevented US businesses from being invested in the success of any belligerent. Because of the conclusion of the Nye Committee, many Americans believed that investment in a belligerent would eventually lead to American participation in war.


Despite its success, this policy soon left European allies (primarily Britain) bankrupt and this forced US leaders to revise the plan. The revised plan was known as the Lend-Lease program, in which the European allies no longer had to pay cash or arrange transportation. Instead, the United States would expect payment at a later time.

In keeping with the Monroe Doctrine, the US didn't actively participate in the war until both Japan and Germany declared war on the US, after which they switched from allied assistance to active engagement.

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