The Marshall Plan: Restitution and Recovery

Marshall delivered his famous European Recovery Act address at Harvard University's commencement on June 5, 1947. In the following months, Marshall and others drafted a plan that embodied his conviction that economic recovery and stability were vital to the rebuilding of a democratic Europe. A key element in his proposal was that the initiative for reconstruction had to come from the participating countries. America's security and economic prosperity were directly linked to Europe's well-being.

Marshall's European Recovery Plan, otherwise known as The Marshall Plan of 1948, established the Economic Cooperation Administration, which provided 13.3 billion dollars to participating Western European countries. Western Europe began to recover from war, and although Marshall made efforts to include the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the recovery, his design was rejected by Moscow.

The Marshall Plan achieved its objectives of increasing productivity, stimulating economic growth, and promoting trade. Living standards quickly improved, and the strengthened economic, social, and political structures in participating countries lifted Europe back up to a stable, productive region. It strengthened political stability and contributed to the containment of the spread of communism.

Aid provided by the Marshall plan officially ended on December 31, 1951. The Plan and its self-help principles laid the foundation for foreign aid as a key in U.S. foreign policy. It took a vital role in the relationship between the United States and Europe; the spirit of cooperation and support eventually enabled a strong and enduring NATO alliance. It is considered one of the most successful foreign policy initiatives in U.S. history.

Selected Bibliography

Dulles, Allen W.
The Marshall Plan
Berg Publishers, 1993

Hogan, Michael J.
The Marshall Plan: America, Britain and the Reconstruction of Western Europe, 1947-1952 (Studies in Economic History and Policy: USA in the Twentieth Century)
Cambridge University Press, 1989

Pogue, Forrest C.
George C. Marshall
4 vols., New York: Viking, 1963-87
Vol IV, Statesman, 1945-1959

Skutt, Mary Sutton
George C. Marshall: Man Behind the Plan
Lexington, Va., Blue Valley Books, 2004

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