The Marshall Plan

GabeAmerican History(ML), Mini Lessons

From Common Sense American History eBook:

On Mar. 12, 1947, Truman announced his Truman Doctrine, securing $400 million in military aid from a Republican Congress for Greece and Turkey, arguing “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities and outside pressures.” Isolationism was broken and there would be no return to a policy of noninvolvement in European affairs.

A few months later, Secretary of State George Marshall announced the European Recovery Act in a Harvard commencement speech, committing the U.S. to supply economic aid to rebuild the devastated economies of Europe. The Soviets and eastern European countries were offered the aid as well, but the Soviets turned it down and pressured their satellite countries to do the same.

Congress debated throughout the fall, without passing the request, which amounted to $11 billion in American assistance. But a communist coup d’état, or takeover, in February 1948 in Czechoslovakia and the mysterious death of a foreign minister who supported receiving the assistance, Jan Masaryk, who fell to his death from a third floor window, cemented the passage of the aid through Congress.

The aid did wonders for rebuilding western European economies. With free market incentives in Germany and France, the economies were rebuilt and American aid generated markets for American products abroad. Within a decade, $60 billion in aid had been granted to reconstruct the economies of Western Europe, which embraced capitalist development and led to a European economic miracle.

  1. The American treatment of Germany after World War II stands in sharp contrast to the way in which Germany was treated following World War I. Germany has since become a strong partner of the United States, and reconciled its military conflicts and ambitions vis-à-vis France and its other neighbors. What lessons can be drawn from this?
  2. The Marshall Plan helped to stabilize and energize European economies. One consequence is that they became trade competitors with the United States. Yet the American economy also thrived. How can you explain this? Why do economies do better when they face competition? What lessons from economics apply?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers.  Click Here to download the Common Sense American History materials.

Image Citation:

9, Mar. 2018, Marshall Plan [Digital image}.  Retrieved from <>.