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Certificate of Compliance1
July 12, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
Under provisions of the Act approved June 28, 1940 (Public 671, 76th Congress), I hereby certify that the following ordnance materiel is not essential to the defense of the United States:
a. Surplus or obsolete equipment transferred from Navy Department as not essential to the defense of the United States (see certificate of Chief of Naval Operations, dated July 9, 1940, attached) —
3,000Lewis Machine Guns (used) Aircraft
3,000Lewis Machine Guns (used) Ground Type
10,000Spare Barrels for Both Types of Lewis Machine Guns
30,000Magazines for Lewis Machine Guns
500Caliber .38 Smith & Wesson Revolvers
1,000,000Rounds Ammunition for Caliber .38 Smith & Wesson
Revolvers (more or less)
6,600,000Caliber .30 Ball, M1 Ammunition for Machine Guns
(more or less) (deteriorated)
b. Surplus Arms from War Department Stock —
35,000 Enfield Rifles, caliber .30, Model 1917 (used).2
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), Foreign Sale or Exchange of Munitions File, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed certificate.
1. This document is typical of scores Marshall was required to sign between July 1, 1940, and the passage of the lend-lease act in March 1941. The certificates were required under the provisions of the naval appropriation bill (H.R. 9822) approved by the president on June 28, 1940. The provision—sometimes called the “Walsh amendment” because it was fostered by Senator David I. Walsh, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee—stipulated that no materiel belonging to the army or navy could be disposed of in any manner without a certificate signed by the chief of staff (if army equipment was involved) or the chief of naval operations asserting that the materiel was not essential to the nation’s defense. Further, a copy of this certification had to be delivered to the chairmen of the relevant House and Senate Military or Naval Affairs committees within twenty-four hours of signature. (United States Statutes at Large, vol. 54, pt. 1 [Washington: GPO, 1941], p. 681 [Public Law 671, Title I, 14(b)].)
Marshall considered the provision unconstitutional, as it gave him, a subordinate to the commander in chief, authority to override the president’s decisions. (Claude M. Adams Notes on Conference in Office of Chief of Staff, November 13, 1940, NA/RG 165 [OCS, Chief of Staff Conferences File].) He later commented that he was careful to abide by the law. “I tried not to crowd the issue at all, and I thought it was imperative that Congress feel that they could trust me, and then I could get them to do things that otherwise they would oppose. . . . It was the only time that I recall that I did something that there was a certain amount of duplicity in it.” (Marshall Interviews, p. 263-64. See also the interviews on p. 279 and p. 297. A lengthy discussion of the law’s implications took place at a meeting Marshall attended in Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau’s of fice on July 3, 1940, FDRL/ H. Morgenthau, Jr., Papers [Diary, 279: 140-48].)
2. The changes indicated here in italics were made under the authority of the chief of staff on July 22.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 261-262.