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PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History

10. 1 America before the outbreak of the Second World War

The Peace conference of Versailles, along with the League of Nations failed to prevent another war. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1937, the U.S. did not realize the full implication of the event. By 1936, the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan and Italy were busy conquering countries and colonies all over the world. When Japanese troops invaded China in 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became increasingly concerned with the direction in which the world was heading.

To test public opinion, Roosevelt made a famous speech in Chicago City - the Isolationist capital of the country in October 1937. Here, he declared: "The peace, the freedom and the security of 90 per cent of the population is being jeopardized by the remaining 10 percent, who are threatening a breakdown of all international order and law. Surely, the 90 per cent who want to live in peace...can and must find some way to make their will prevail...There must be positive endeavors to preserve peace." From these general statements, the President finally came to the point: "It seems to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading. When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease." This was a clarion call to the nation to face the stark reality of a world that was slowly moving towards war. The measures that Roosevelt intended to take to check the ’epidemic’ were not explained here. Perhaps that is why the reaction in the press towards in his speech was mixed. While several newspapers applauded him, the Isolationists in the U.S. were upset. "Stop foreign meddling; America wants peace," they warned.

In the face of this reaction, President Roosevelt could not provide a leadership to the Democratic powers of the world. In 1938, the Isolationists in the Congress, led by Representative Ludlow introduced an amendment to the constitution, which would have made it necessary for a plebiscite to be held for any involvement in War, except in the case of an invasion of the country. The amendment was defeated in the Congress, but by a very low margin of 21 votes. From this, the President could sense the deep anti-war sentiments running within the country.

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Table of Contents

10.0 - Chronology of Major Events
10.1 - America Before The Outbrake Of The Second World War
10.2 - German Expansion
10.3 - The US And The War
10.4 - Departure From Neutrality
10.5 - The Land Lease Act
10.6 - The Pearl Harbour Incident
10.7 - Impact Of The War
10.8 - US Diplomacy During The War
10.9 - Conference At Dumberton Oaks
10.10 - The Yalta Conference
10.11 - Points To Remember

Chapter 11


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