Lend-Lease was a program whereby the United States would loan Britain and other nations war aid. It was a solution, proposed by President Roosevelt, that appeared a less radical step than direct aid. To persuade the American people, Roosevelt famously used the analogy of a garden hose:
Suppose my neighbor’s home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don’t say to him before that operation, ‘Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have to pay me $15 for it.’. . . I don’t want $15—I want my garden hose back after the fire is over.
Roosevelt signed into law the Lend-Lease Act in 1941. It gave the president broad powers to “sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend or otherwise dispose of” items to other countries if he decided they were not vital to national security. In so doing the United State became, as Roosevelt stated, “the great arsenal of democracy.”