Franklin D. Roosevelt

Executive Order 8839—Establishing the Economic Defense Board

July 30, 1941

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, by virtue of the existence of an unlimited national emergency, and for the purpose of developing and coordinating policies, plans, and programs designed to protect and strengthen the international economic relations of the United States in the interest of national defense, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. The term "economic defense," whenever used in this Order, means the conduct, in the interest of national defense, of international economic activities including those relating to exports, imports, the acquisition and disposition of materials and commodities from foreign countries including preclusive buying, transactions in foreign exchange and foreign-owned or foreign-controlled property, international investments and extensions of credit, shipping and transportation of goods among countries, the international aspects of patents, international communications pertaining to commerce, and other foreign economic matters.

2. There is hereby established an Economic Defense Board (hereinafter referred to as the "Board"). The Board shall consist of the Vice President of the United States, who shall serve as Chairman, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce. The Chairman may, with the approval of the President, appoint additional members to the Board. Each member of the Board, other than the Chairman, may designate an alternate from among the officials of his Department, subject to the continuing approval of the Chairman, and such alternate may act for such member in all matters relating to the Board.

3. In furtherance of such policies and objectives as the President may from time to time determine, the Board shall perform the following functions and duties:

a. Advise the President as to economic defense measures to be taken or functions to be performed which are essential to the effective defense of the Nation.

b. Coordinate the policies and actions of the several departments and agencies carrying on activities relating to economic defense in order to assure unity and balance in the application of such measures.

c. Develop integrated economic defense plans and programs for coordinated action by the departments and agencies concerned and use all appropriate means to assure that such plans and programs are carried into effect by such departments and agencies.

d. Make investigations and advise the President on the relationship of economic defense (as defined in paragraph 1) measures to postwar economic reconstruction and on the steps to be taken to protect the trade position of the United States and to expedite the establishment of sound, peacetime international economic relationships.

e. Review proposed or existing legislation relating to or affecting economic defense and, with the approval of the President, recommend such additional legislation as may be necessary or desirable.

4. The administration of the various activities relating to economic defense shall remain with the several departments and agencies now charged with such duties but such administration shall conform to the policies formulated or approved by the Board.

5. In the study of problems and in the formulation of programs, it shall be the policy of the Board to collaborate with existing departments and agencies which perform functions and activities pertaining to economic defense and to utilize their services and facilities to the maximum. Such departments and agencies shall cooperate with the Board in clearing proposed policies and measures involving economic defense considerations and shall supply such information and data as the Board may require in performing its functions. The Board may arrange for the establishment of committees or groups of advisers, representing two or more departments and agencies as the case may require, to study and develop economic defense plans and programs in respect to particular commodities or services, geographical areas, types of measures that might be exercised, and other related matters.

6. To facilitate unity of action and the maximum use of existing services and facilities, each of the following departments and agencies, in addition to the departments and agencies represented on the Board, shall designate a responsible officer or officers, subject to the approval of the Chairman, to represent the department or agency in its continuing relationships with the Board: The Departments of the Post Office, the Interior, and Labor, the Federal Loan Agency, the United States Maritime Commission, the United States Tariff Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Resources Planning Board, the Defense Communications Board, the Office of Production Management, the Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply, the Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations Between the American Republics, the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, the Administrator of Export Control, the Division of Defense Aid Reports, the Coordinator of Information, and such additional departments and agencies as the Chairman may from time to time determine. The Chairman shall provide for the systematic conduct of business with the foregoing departments and agencies.

7. The Chairman is authorized to make all necessary arrangements, with the advice and assistance of the Board, for discharging and performing the responsibilities and duties required to carry out the functions and authorities set forth in this Order, and to make final decisions when necessary to expedite the work of the Board. He is further authorized, within the limits of such funds as may be allocated to the Board by the President, to employ necessary personnel and make provision for the necessary supplies, facilities, and services. The Chairman may, with the approval of the President, appoint an executive officer.

Signature of Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House,
July 30, 1941.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Executive Order 8839—Establishing the Economic Defense Board Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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