“It Won’t Be Long Now” (February 1941)
by William “Bill” Crawford (1913-1982)
19 x 22 in., ink and crayon on Glarco Illustration Board
A Bill Further to promote the defense of
the United States and for other purposes
was introduced to the US House of Representatives on January 10, 1941.
After the defeat of France during June 1940, the British Commonwealth and Empire were the only forces engaged in war against Germany and Italy. Britain had been paying for its material with gold as part of the “cash and carry” program, as required by the US Neutrality Acts.
By late 1940 Great Britain was increasingly unable to pay for and transport the war materials it needed in its fight against Nazi Germany. Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill appealed to President Roosevelt to find a way for the United States to continue to aid Britain.
During December 1940, President Roosevelt proclaimed the US would be the “Arsenal of Democracy” and proposed selling munitions to Britain and Canada. Isolationists were strongly opposed, warning it would result in American involvement with what was considered by most Americans as an essentially European conflict.
FDR proposed providing war materials to Britain without the immediate payment called for in the Neutrality Act under a program of “Lend-Lease,” a clever and political side-step to the “cash and carry” policy.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on February 9, 1941. The vote in the Senate occurred a month later.
The cartoon, with the Axis members and Churchill watching from the Senate Gallery, puts the likely date as sometime in February, probably recognizing the passage of HR 1776 by the House and its movement to the Senate.
Congress passed “Lend-Lease” and President Roosevelt signed the Act on March 11, 1941. After the United States entered the war, Lend-Lease became the most important means for supplying the Allies with military aid.
In 1943–1944, about a quarter of all British munitions came through Lend-Lease. Aircraft (in particular transport aircraft) comprised about a quarter of the shipments to Britain, followed by food, land vehicles and ships.
The program began to be ended after VE Day. During April 1945, Congress voted that it should not be used for post-conflict purposes, and during August 1945, after Japanese surrender, the program was ended.