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Origins of American Isolationism

Origins of American Isolationism

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Published by Mr. Graham Long

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Published by: Mr. Graham Long on Nov 20, 2009
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 As we have seen, America was not exactly the most “sociable”of nations. Our interactions with foreign countries were few and far between. There is a historical precedent for Americato be isolated from foreign affairs; in particular, 8 differentevents pave the way for this country to stay out of World War II well past its beginning.NameSummary Washington's Farewell Address, 1796Monroe Doctrine,1823Treaty of Versailles,1919 WashingtonConference, 1921Four-Power Treaty,1922Nine-Power Treaty,1922Kellogg-Briand Pact,1928Neutrality Acts, 1935Read Roosevelt's response about “the German Menace”. Based on the acts you seeabove, why was his position so difficult? Do you think he was persuasive enough?
Destroyers-for-Bases:Lend-Lease:Ignore for the moment anything that you might already know about World War II andfocus on the facts:
Fact: Most Americans did not want to get involved
Fact: It was illegal to lend support to Britain
Fact: France had surrendered, and Britain was on the verge
Fact: A depression is still going on in your country (unemployment is at a stillhigh 15%)My question to you is: Would you have supported the war? Would you want yourPresident focused more on domestic or foreign issues? Defend your response.
What is Roosevelt's problem?What are Roosevelt's best solutions?
George Washington's Farewell Address
“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extendingour commercial relations to have with them as little political connection aspossible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none or a very remoterelation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of  which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must beunwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinaryvicissitudes of her politics or the ordinary combination and collisions of herfriendships or enmities.Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue adifferent course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, theperiod is not far off when we may defy material injury from externalannoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; whenbelligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peaceor war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own tostand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of anypart of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of Europeanambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world, so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let menot be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existingengagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to privateaffairs that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat, therefore, let thoseengagements be observed in their genuine sense, but in my opinion it isunnecessary and would be unwise to extend them. Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on arespectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances forextraordinary emergencies.”

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