After the events leading up to World War I and also the aftermath of the war itself, the United States government decided to take a second look at their policy of isolationism and also their foreign policy. That second look caused plenty of controversies between the people in America who supported a return to isolationism and also those who wished to see a change in United Sates by taking a much more active role in not only European affairs, but world affairs in general.
In the mid to late 1930’s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt among other government officials and even some American citizens were very fond of taking up a policy of isolationism after World War 1. In Document 2, the president clearly states that war is just like a contagion, a virus that should be avoided indefinitely. President Roosevelt was dead set on keeping the United States out of the war by all means necessary. He wanted peace and did not agree with the idea that countries seemed to be fighting for no reason other than that they were bigger and stronger than the opposed. In Document 3, Senator Robert A. Taft was opposed to the United States entering the war in Europe because he believed that due to World War 1, democracies were destroyed and dictatorships were set up in place of them. American citizens supported a policy of isolationism because they felt war was far too costly and resulted in a very high death toll of not only American citizens but citizens worldwide.
Soon after, between the spring of 1940 and the start of 1941, public opinion began to shift from the support of isolationism to an opposition of the policy. In Document 5, you can see that instead of staying out of war, American citizens began to want to aid Britain in the fight against Germany. Another event that altered public opinion was the fall of France. While many people disagreed with the shift in public opinion by saying things like Charles Lindbergh said, “If the principles of democracy mean anything at all, that is reason enough for us to stay out” as seen in Document 7. However in Document 8, you can see that there is a clear opposition to a policy of isolationism. Basically the public believed that if Hitler and the Nazi regime weren’t stopped, then they would attack the United States. The concern was that if Britain was conquered, it was open the ocean ways of the Atlantic, which in turn would cause a major threat.
Regardless of the supporters of a policy of isolationism, the United States supported the war and was soon enough involved in the fight against Germany. Since then, the United States has played an extremely active role in European and other world affairs. We have become an ally to plenty and an enemy to some. And just as there had been during World War 1, there are still existing controversies on isolationism between American citizens and also between the government.
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