This day in history, April 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed off on legislation for the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, which authorized the creation of a program that would help the nations of Europe recover and rebuild following the devastation of World War II.
The act, more commonly known as the Marshall Plan, provided over $12 billion in assistance to aid in the economic recovery of Western Europe. It was also aimed at preventing European nations from being tempted by the appeal of communist parties.
U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall called for American assistance for Europe during a speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947.
In June 1947, Britain and France invited European nations to send representatives to Paris in order to design a recovery plan. The Soviet Union, as well as Soviet-influenced countries such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland, declined to attend the meeting.
The Committee of European Economic Cooperation presented a plan before Congress, resulting in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948. President Truman signed the act into law the on April 3, 1948.
The act provided roughly $13 billion in aid over the next four years. Most of the funds were given in direct grants, and the rest in loans. The influx of American money caused rapid inflation in some areas, but overall, it succeeded in stabilizing the ailing European economies.