On April 3, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Economic Cooperation Act, more commonly known as the Marshall Plan. As described by the plans originator, U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, its purpose was twofold: to help restore the devastated economies of postwar Europe and, in so doing, reduce the threat of Communist takeover in those vulnerable countries.
At the end of World War II, Europe was shattered. There was an urgent need for both a reconstruction plan and economic assistance. In a speech at Harvard University on June 5, 1947, Marshall proposed that European countries develop a plan to rebuild while the United States would supply the funds. Shortly afterward, participating countries met in Paris to discuss the terms of the program. Though invited to attend, the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries rejected the plan.
In December 1947, President Truman asked Congress to provide funds for the Marshall Plan, and Congress responded by passing the Economic Cooperation Act in 1948. Over the next four years, the United States provided $13.3 billion for the recovery of Europe. The Marshall Plan was largely viewed as a successful effort to stabilize Western European governments while holding the Communist movement at bay. Detractors claimed, however, that the Marshall Plan escalated the hostilities of the developing Cold War.
It is difficult to find the full text of the Marshall Plan. However, you can view a photocopy of the first and last pages of the Marshall Plan on the National Archives website at www.archives.gov.