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The Russian Famine Relief Act of 1921
authorized the expenditure of $20,000,000 for the purchase of American foodstuffs to send to the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
, for relief of the Russian famine of 1921
The Russian famine of 1921, also known as Povolzhye famine, which began in the early spring of that year, and lasted through 1922, was a severe famine that occurred in Bolshevik Russia...
The Act was overseen by Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...
, serving simultaneously as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the head of the American Relief Administration
American Relief Administration was an American relief mission to Europe and later Soviet Russia after World War I. Herbert Hoover, future president of the United States, was the program director....
, and signed into law in late December. With the Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...
winding down, and Lenin having implemented the pseudo-Capitalist New Economic Policy
The New Economic Policy was an economic policy proposed by Vladimir Lenin, who called it state capitalism. Allowing some private ventures, the NEP allowed small animal businesses or smoke shops, for instance, to reopen for private profit while the state continued to control banks, foreign trade,...
(NEP) in order to get the Russian economy back on its feet, some like Hoover and Sen. William E. Borah (R) of Idaho that hoped that the aid would serve as political leverage against the Bolshevik regime.
Others, President Warren G. Harding
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States . A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate , as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as a U.S. Senator...
, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge
Henry Cabot "Slim" Lodge was an American Republican Senator and historian from Massachusetts. He had the role of Senate Majority leader. He is best known for his positions on Meek policy, especially his battle with President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 over the Treaty of Versailles...
, and the business Conservatives within the Administration refused to countenance the idea, unless the Soviets were willing to pay back the money loaned to the Tsar’s regime during the war. Lenin refused, and so while the act was a genuine humanitarian gesture, it accomplished little in changing the tense relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
When Stalin came to power in 1927, Soviet school textbooks omitted all reference to the help given, and it became a crime to say that the Soviet Union ever accepted outside aid to sustain the needs of its people.