Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies

William Allen White was a supporter of a "pro-British policy" in the Second World War and in May 1940 he established the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA). White gave an interview to the Chicago Daily News where he argued: "Here is a life and death struggle for every principle we cherish in America: For freedom of speech, of religion, of the ballot and of every freedom that upholds the dignity of the human spirit... Here all the rights that common man has fought for during a thousand years are menaced... The time has come when we must throw into the scales the entire moral and economic weight of the United States on the side of the free peoples of Western Europe who are fighting the battle for a civilized way of life." It was not long before White's organization had 300 chapters nationwide. in May 1940.

Other members of the CDAAA included Clark M. Eichelberger (National Director), Adlai Stevenson, John J. Pershing, Claude Pepper and Philip Dunne. Members of the CDAAA argued that by advocating American military materiel support of Britain was the best way to keep the United States out of the war in Europe. The CDAAA disagreed strongly with the America First Committee, the main pressure group supporting complete neutrality and non-intervention in the war.

The main concern of the CDAAA was to “Aid the Allies.” However, they also adopted several concrete goals: the sale of destroyers to Great Britain; the release by the U.S. government of Flying Fortresses, pursuit planes, and mosquito boats to Great Britain; the use of convoys to safely escort Allied supplies; and the revision of the 1935 Neutrality Act to arm U.S. ships for defense against Axis attacks.

The Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies played an important role in the passing of the Lend-Lease Act on 11th March, 1941. The legislation gave President Franklin D. Roosevelt the powers to sell, transfer, exchange, lend equipment to any country to help it defend itself against the Axis powers. A sum of $50 billion was appropriated by Congress for Lend-Lease. The money went to 38 different countries with Britain receiving over $31 billion.

The CDAAA refused to support military intervention in the war. William Stephenson as the head of the British Security Coordination (BSC), found this frustrating and he encouraged William Donovan and Allen W. Dulles, with the support of BSC agent, Sydney Morrell, to establish the pro-intervention Fight for Freedom (FFF) group in April 1941.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) William Allen White, interviewed in the Chicago Daily News (21st May, 1940)

Here is a life and death struggle for every principle we cherish in America: For freedom of speech, of religion, of the ballot and of every freedom that upholds the dignity of the human spirit... Here all the rights that common man has fought for during a thousand years are menaced... The time has come when we must throw into the scales the entire moral and economic weight of the United States on the side of the free peoples of Western Europe who are fighting the battle for a civilized way of life.