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Conflicting Views of Point IV

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
2 Days
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
After addressing a central question, students will analyze primary source documents to formulate their own opinion on the Point IV program.

After addressing a central question, students will analyze primary source documents to formulate their own opinion on the Point IV program.

    Rationale (why are you doing this?)
    • In relation to content, this activity builds upon what we already know about the Marshall Plan by introducing the Point IV Program. 
    • In relation to skills, this activity exposes students to the process of analyzing primary source documents, teaches them to see the context in which those documents were written and the subtext of the person writing the document, and encourages them to use specific information from the primary sources to back up their opinion regarding the central question.
    Lesson Objectives - the student will
    • Students will analyze primary source documents, pulling out important information that relates to the central question
    • Students will analyze the context in which the primary source was written.  What was going on at the time? 
    • Students will analyze the subtext in which the primary source was written.  Who created this source?  For whom was it created?  Why was this source produced?
    District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
    • Kansas State Social Studies Standard #1 – Choices have consequences.
    • 1.1 – The student will recognize and evaluate significant choices made by individuals, communities, states and nations that have impacted our lives and futures.
    • 1.2 – The student will analyze the context under which choices are made and draw conclusions about the motivations and goals of the decision makers.
    • 1.3 – The student will investigate examples of causes and consequences of particular choices and connect those choices with contemporary issues.

    Missouri Standards

    US History
    3aW:  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies including the Cold War.
    3aY:  Describe the changing character of American society and culture.
    6N:  Predict the consequences that can occur when institutions fail to meet the needs of individuals and groups.
    7A:  Distinguish between and analyze primary and secondary sources.

      Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

      Harry S. Truman – Inaugural Speech (1949)

      “…we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas.

      More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery.  Their food is inadequate.  They are victims of disease.  Their economic life is primitive and stagnant.  Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas.

      For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people.

      The United States is pre-eminent among nations in the development of industrial and scientific techniques.  The material resources which we can afford to use for the assistance of other peoples are limited.  But our imponderable resources in technical knowledge are constantly growing and are inexhaustible. 

      I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life.  And, in cooperation with other nations, we should foster capital investment in areas needing development.

      Our aim should be to help the free peoples of the world, through their own efforts, to produce more food, more clothing, more materials for housing, and more mechanical power to lighten their burdens. 

      We invite other countries to pool their technological resources in this undertaking.  Their contributions will be warmly welcomed.  This should be a cooperative enterprise in which all nations work together through the United Nations and its specialized agencies wherever practicable.  It must be a worldwide effort for the achievement of peace, plenty and freedom.

      With the cooperation of business, private capital, agriculture, and labor in this country, this program can greatly increase the industrial activity in other nations and can raise substantially their standards of living. 

      Such new economic developments must be devised and controlled to benefit the peoples of the areas in which they are established.  Guarantees to the investor must be balanced by guarantees in the interest of the people whose resources and whose labor go into these developments.

      The old imperialism – exploitation for foreign profit – has no place in our plans.  What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair-dealing.

      All countries, including our own, will greatly benefit from a constructive program for the better use of the world’s human and natural resources.  Experience shows that our commerce with other countries expands as they progress industrially and economically.

      Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace.  And the key to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of modern scientific and technical knowledge.

      Only by helping the least fortunate of its members to help themselves can the human family achieve the decent, satisfying life that is the right of all people.


      “Harry S. Truman Inaugural Address, Thursday, January 20, 1949”

      Possible Questions and Suggested Answers Concerning the President’s Technical Assistance Proposal


      Question 1:  Will this plan involve making large scale guarantees to private investment abroad?

      Answer:   …The President was not referring to this specific problem, but he was stressing the point that this technical assistance program could in no sense be described as involving exploitation or imperialism.  This is basically a proposal for a cooperative program in which U.S. assistance will be provided only to countries requesting it and only under conditions acceptable to them (as well as to us).  Furthermore, we expect to provide much of this assistance through the UN and the Organization of American States, the recipient countries will themselves help in formulating the kind and conditions of this aid.


      Question 2:  Which of the many underdeveloped areas of the world did the President mean?  For example, did he mean China?

      Answer:  The President was stating a program in terms of general objectives and character.  It is not yet defined in terms of its detailed implementation, its geographic scope, etc….Whether China specifically would be included in the program is not a question of its being underdeveloped, for this is obvious.  The question here is whether or not a mutually acceptable cooperative program could be worked out with the effective authorities in China.  Unstable political conditions do not provide fertile soil for programs looking towards economic recovery and development.

      Question 3:  Would the program envisage technical assistance behind the Iron Curtain?

      Answer:  As pointed out in the answer to question 2, this program could only be worked out with countries willing to enter into cooperative arrangements acceptable to both parties….

      Question 6:  Will not the new program involve the danger of “bankrupting” our economy by increasing the already heavy drain on our resources?

      Answer:  The program does not involve capital investment by the U.S. Government, and its total cost is likely to be very small compared with our governmental aid programs or with the current international flow of private U.S. capital investment, with is between $1/2 billion and $1 billion annually.

      Question 7:  How would you answer the assertion that this program is an implementation of Henry Wallace’s program of a quart of milk for every Hottentot?

      Answer:  This is not a relief program nor a financial aid program.  The only implementation of Henry Wallace’s program involved is showing Hottentots how to run modern dairies if they want to learn how.

      Question 10:  In view of national security interests, is there no limit on these scientific and technical skills to be exchanged?

      Answer:  National security interests would, of course, be taken into account in administering this program, as in all others.

      “Possible Questions and Suggested Answers Concerning the President’s Technical Assistance Proposal”, April 12, 1949.


      Harry S. Truman – Address before Annual Convention of the American Newspaper Guild, June 28, 1950

      “…It is hard for us to realize just how bad economic conditions are for many peoples of the world.  Famine, disease, and poverty are the scourge of vast areas of the globe.  Hundreds of millions of people in Asia, for example, have a life expectanc