Pre-War American Neutrality

Pre-War American Neutrality
Mr. Macomber
Mercedes High School
Supporting Isolationism
• The rise of dictatorships in Europe and Asia
after World War I, the refusal of European
countries to repay war debts owed to the
United States, and the Nye Committee
findings that arms factories made huge profits
caused Americans to support isolationism.
Depression & WWI Debt
• The Great Depression and made it harder for
many European nations (such as Britain) to pay
back their WW I loans
• Only Finland continued to pay
• The Dawes Plan was put into effect in 1924
• In 1930 Herbert Hoover proposed a debt
Nye Committee
• The Senate’s Nye Committee inquiries of 1934-1936 reinforced
popular perceptions that U.S. involvement in World War I had
been a blunder.
• The report suggested that American policy had been manipulated
by so-called merchants of death —bankers and munitions
makers who lusted for wartime fortunes who lent money to the
Neutrality Laws
• Many Americans wanted to avoid international
• Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1935 making
it illegal for Americans to sell arms to any country
at war.
• Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1937, which
continued the ban of selling arms to countries at war
and required warring countries to buy nonmilitary
supplies from the United States on a “cash and
carry” basis.
Spanish Civil War
• The Spanish Civil War, which lasted from July 17,
1936 to April 1, 1939, was a conflict in which the
Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco,
defeated the Republicans or Loyalists
• The Republicans received weapons and volunteers
from the Soviet Union,, while the Nationalists
received weapons and soldiers from Italy and
• The United States maintained strict neutrality even
though American volunteers illegally fought for the
Roosevelt & Internationalism
• President Franklin D. Roosevelt
supported internationalism
• Internationalists believe that trade
between nations creates prosperity and
helps to prevent war.
The Axis
• Japan aligned itself with Germany and Italy in 1937 as
part of the Anti-Comintern Pact, and these three
countries became known as the Axis Powers after
Japan signed the Tripartite pact in 1940.
• After Japan launched a full-scale attack on China in
1937, Roosevelt authorized the sale of weapons to
China, saying that the Neutrality Act of 1937 did not
apply, since neither China nor Japan had actually
declared war.
FDR- Quarantine Speech
• On Oct. 5, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his famous
"Quarantine Speech" in which he denounced the international
lawlessness of aggressor nations and said that a way would have to be
found to curb them.
• Japan was not specifically mentioned but the President's speech was
obviously aimed squarely at that nation:
• “When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community
joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the
community against the spread of the disease….War is a contagion,
whether it be declared or undeclared….there is no escape through mere
isolation or neutrality”