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The Mutual Security Act of 1951

October 10, 1951
The Mutual Security Act of 1951 James Prioleau Richards, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
James Richards of South Carolina served in World War I and played professional baseball before his election to his first of twelve terms in the House in 1932.
On this date, the Mutual Security Act of 1951 was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The measure, which authorized nearly $7.5 billion for foreign military, economic, and technical aid to American allies was aimed primarily at shoring up Western Europe against—in the words of Secretary of State Dean Acheson, who testified before Congress—Soviet “encroachment.” The measure was intended to signal Washington’s resolve to allies and to the Kremlin that the United States was capable of and committed to containing communism globally, even while it fought a protracted land war in Korea. The measure took about two months to work its way through the House, meeting resistance from fiscal conservatives along the way. Republicans were divided about the cost of the expenditures; nevertheless nearly half (80) joined the overwhelming majority of Democrats to pass the measure 260 to 101 on August 17. John M. Vorys of Ohio summed up GOP support for the measure, noting that military aid to “nations who will fight on our side” is “sound economy.” Representative James P. Richards of South Carolina, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that the Mutual Security Act was intended “not to fight a war” but “to prevent a war.” The act—which was extended by appropriators each year until the early 1960s—also abolished the Economic Cooperation Administration (which had managed the Marshall Plan) and transferred its functions to the new Mutual Security Agency.

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