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The London Economic Conference in 1933 hoped to coordinate on the global depression and particularly to stabilize the rates of exchange for various currencies. b. At first, FDR agreed to send a delegation including Sec. of State Cordell Hull, but soon had doubts. He wanted to pursue gold-juggling and other inflationary policies and agreeing to maintain the value of the dollar would tie his hands. He quickly withdrew America from negotiations. c. With the move, the conference collapsed, drawing worldwide ire. Roosevelt’s every man for himself attitude deepened the worldwide crisis and bred extreme nationalism which hindered future negotiation. Roosevelt played directly into power-mad dictators’ hands. Freedom for (from?) the Filipinos and Recognition for the Russians a. With hard times, Americans were eager to throw out McKinley’s expensive baby, the Philippines. Organized labor disliked the cheap Filipino workers and sugar producers disliked the Philippine competition. b. Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934. It promised independence after 12 years of servitude economically and politically and agreed to relinquish their army bases, but not their navy ones. c. Economically, they wished to abandon the Philippines in hard times and impose an economic situation favorable to the US. Japan looked on, calculating that the US was weak. d. In 1933, Roosevelt finally recognized Soviet Russia over protests from anti-communist groups and Catholics. He hoped that trade would improve with Russia and that it would be a counterweight for German and Japan. Becoming a Good Neighbor a. In Roosevelt’s inaugural address, he proclaimed that the US would from now on be a “Good Neighbor” to the Caribbean. With his noninvolvement in Europe, it appeared Roosevelt was giving up being a world power. b. Intervention in the Caribbean had not paid off. Investors were penniless and it caused resentment. c. Roosevelt was eager to get the Caribbean on his side: embittered neighbor would be potential tools of transoceanic aggressors. FDR renounced armed intervention and the Roosevelt Corollary. At the Seventh Pan-American Conference in Montevideo, Uruguay (1933), the US endorsed nonintervention. d. In 1934, marines withdrew from Haiti and Cuba was released from the Platt Amendment, though Guantanamo was retained. In1936, the US released Panama from its grip. e. In 1938, the Mexican government seized Yankee oil properties. Amid cries of armed intervention, FDR created a settlement in 1941, despite the fact that oil companies lost much of their original stake. f. Roosevelt’s era of peacefulness might have hurt some US bondholders, but goodwill in the south increased tenfold. FDR was adored by Latin America. At the Inter-American Conference at Buenos Aires, Argentina, he was hailed. Secretary Hull’s Reciprocal Trade Agreements a. Sec. of State Hull championed the reciprocal trade policy of the New Dealers. He believed tariffs choked trade. b. Congress passed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act in 1934 that was designed to help American exports and activate the low-tariff policies of the New Dealers. It was aimed at both relief and recovery. c. This act avoided wholesale tariff revision; it merely amended the Hawley-Smoot law by amending. Roosevelt could reduce the tariffs up to 50% as long as other countries involved did likewise. The international pacts were to go into effect without Congress approval, making faster and less lobbying. d. Hull succeeded in getting agreements from 21 other countries. US foreign trade increased likewise and the trade agreements were a gesture of good will in the war-torn world. e. The landmark legislation reversed the tradition of high protective tariffs that had caused so much trouble for the world and paved the way for an American-led economic system after WWII. Impulses Toward Storm-Cellar Isolationism a. In Europe, totalitarianism began to reign supreme. Joseph Stalin finally revealed himself dictator in the Bolshevik USSR. Fascist Benito Mussolini took Italy in 1922. Adolf Hitler took control of Germany in 1933. b. Hitler was the unintended result of the Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s unemployment. People followed him because of his amazing oration skills and because they felt they had no other way out. In1936, Hitler and Mussolini allied themselves with the Rome-Berlin Axis. c. Like Germany and Italy, Japan was a small power, resented the treaty of Versailles and was seeking more land. d. In1934, Japan gave notice that the Washington Naval Treaty was to end. A year later, Japan was denied complete parity in London and walked out of the multipower conference, accelerating building giant battleships. e. In 1935, Mussolini attacked Ethiopia in Africa and crushed the defenders. The League of Nations could have embargoed oil and halted the attack, but it didn’t want to create an international incident. f. Isolationism received a boost from these dictators. America believed it had immunity in the seas. They regarded participation in WWI as a mistake. They also resented Europe for defaulting on its loans. In 1934, Congress passed the Johnson Debt Default Act which prevented debtor nations from borrowing more money. g. With the depression, Americans couldn’t summon up worry about the dictators. Americans were more worried that they would be drawn into it. People began to ask for a constitutional amendment that said Congress couldn’t declare war – unless invaded – unless there was a favorable popular referendum. Congress Legislates Neutrality
At the 1930s went on, there was a rash of books condemning the munitions manufacturers as war-fomenting “merchants of death.” A Senate committee headed by Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota was sent to investigate. By sensationalizing evidence, Senate representatives shifted blame from the German u-boats to the American bankers and arms manufacturers. The American public believed that because arms manufacturers made money, they had caused the war to make money. The public believed that if arms dealers didn’t profit, war could be averted. b. Responding to public pressure and the Ethiopian attacks, Congress passed the Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936, and 1937 made it so that when the president proclaimed the existence of a foreign war, Americans couldn’t sail on belligerent ships, sell or transport munitions to a belligerent, or make loans to a belligerent. c. This marked the abandonment of the traditional policy of freedom of the seas. If they had been in effect before WWI, they would have averted US involvement. d. This proved to be shortsighted. The US assumed that the decision for peace or war lay in its own hands. It failed to see that it could have used its power to shape world events rather than be controlled by dictators. e. America tried to make the scales even by making no distinction between victims and aggressors. In doing so, the armed dictators were free to do as they pleased. America Dooms Loyalist Spain a. The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 showed the folly of neutrality by legislation. Spanish rebels led by dictator General Francisco Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini attacked the leftist government aided by the USSR. b. Washington continued official relations with the Loyalist government. However, they were unable to purchase munitions from the US under the new neutrality agreement, allowing the rebels to win. c. Franco, supplied by his fellow dictators, strangled the republican government of Spain while all other democracies were determined to stay out of the war. This encouraged the dictators on their dangerous path. d. Although determined to stay out of the war, America declined to build up their armed forces to deter attacks and ever allowed its navy to decline. When FDR called for preparedness, he was branded as a warmonger. It wasn’t until 1938, that Congress passed the billion-dollar naval construction act, too late. Appeasing Japan and Germany a. In 1937, Japan began a full-out invasion of China at the Marco Polo Bridge in Beijing. b. Roosevelt shrewdly declined to declare Japan in a war, therefore not cutting off the munitions China desperately needed. Japan, however, could still by weapons. c. In Chicago, Roosevelt gave the “Quarantine Speech” in 1937. He was alarmed by the aggressive actions of Italy and Japan and called for economic embargoes against the countries to “quarantine” them. d. Isolationists feared that a moral quarantine would lead to a shooting quarantine and FDR sought other ways to curb. e. In December 1937, Japanese aviators bombed and sank the Panay in Chinese waters. This might have provoked war like the Maine, but Japan hastened to pay the fee and apologize. Americans breathed a sigh of relief, but Japanese militarists were encouraged to vent their anger by subjecting American citizens to brutal beatings. f. In 1935, Hitler opened flouted the Treaty by introducing compulsory military service in Germany. The next year, he marched into Rhineland, also against the Treaty. Then Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews from the areas under his control, mostly with gas chambers. He created a new German air force and turned the army deadly. g. In March 1938, Hitler bloodlessly seized Austria. The democratic powers hoped that would satisfy him. h. Hitler soon made demands form Sudetenland of neighboring Czechoslovakia. Britain and France sought to bring the issue to a conference table. FDR sent peaceful messages to both Hitler and Mussolini. i. The conference in Munich, Germany tore off Sudetenland, betraying Czechoslovakia. The democracies hoped that that would end Hitler’s thirst for power, and he publicly declared it was so. j. In March 1939, Hitler seized the rest of Czechoslovakia, stunning the democratic powers. Hitler’s Belligerency and U.S. Neutrality a. In the summer of 1939, Britain and France negotiated with Moscow, but Russia refused to sign. Then the Soviet Union signed a nonaggression treaty with the German dictator. b. The Hitler-Stalin pact meant that Germany could reach into Poland and the rest of Europe without fearing the USSR at its back. Wishful thinkers that thought that Germany and the USSR would kill each other were disappointed. Stalin was hoping to turn Hitler against the democracies and then leave Stalin standing in the ruins. c. Hitler now demanded Poland give up the areas taken from Germany after WWI. Not satisfied, he sent his armies into Poland on Sept. 1st 1939. d. Britain and France, honoring their commitment to Poland, declared war. They were however powerless to save Poland against Hitler. Poland fell and Stalin took his cut. WWII had begun. e. Roosevelt issued the standard proclamations of neutrality. Americans were overwhelmingly anti-Nazi and antiHitler, but they refused to be “suckers” again. f. Britain and France urgently needed American airplanes and weapons, but the Neutrality Act of 1937 prevented that. Roosevelt called a special session of Congress. g. The Neutrality Act of 1939 said that European democracies could buy American war materials, but only on a “cashand-carry” basis, where they would have to carry the munitions to their own ships after paying in only cash. American could then avoid loans, war debts and torpedoing American arms-carriers. Also, Roosevelt could now declare danger zones where American merchant ships were forbidden from entering.
h. This law clearly favored the democracies. The British and French navies controlled the Atlantic seas and therefore
10. European aggressors couldn’t send their ships to buy ammo. The US improved its moral position and its economic one, as the increase in demand for war goods relieved the depression. The Fall of France a. The months after the collapse of Poland were called the “phony war.” Silence reigned as Hitler shifted his troops into Poland for a blow at France. The Soviets wantonly attacked Finland, seeking a buffer state. The debt-paying Finns with many admirers in the US were granted $30 million for nonmilitary purposes. Yet, it was crushed. b. An end to the “phony war” came in April 1940 when Hitler overran Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, throwing in a blow at France. By late June, France was forced to surrender, but not before Mussolini got his cut. In a frantic evacuation from the French port of Dunkirk, Britain managed to salvage the bulk of its navy. Prime Minister Winston Churchill became a prominent leader and influential orator of the war. c. France’s collapse shocked Americans out of their daydreams. Britain was all that was standing between Hitler and the death of democracy in Europe. If Britain went under, Hitler would have workshops, shipyard, slave labor and the British navy at his disposal. This steeled the American people for a tremendous effort. d. Roosevelt called upon the American people to building huge air fleets and a two-ocean navy to check Japan. Congress appropriated a sum of $37 billion, more that the cost of WWI and the New Deal budget. e. A conscription law was passed on Sept. 6, 1940 – the first peacetime draft. A provision was made for training 1.2 million troops and 800,000 troops and was later adapted to a global war. f. Latin America needed bracing. With the Netherlands, Denmark and France taken over, they had orphaned their colonies. These were vulnerable to German invasion. At the Havana Conference of 1940, the Monroe Doctrine was voted to be enforced by all the Latin American nations. Bolstering Britain with the Destroyer Deal (1940) a. Before France’s collapse, Washington had maintained technical neutrality. But now Britain was alone and neutrality seemed unwise. In August 1940, Hitler launched air attacks against Britain as prep for Sept. invasions. Britain’s tenacious defense of its islands in the Battle of Britain made Hitler postpone his invasion indefinitely. b. During the Battle of Britain, debate raged in the US over foreign policy. Nightly radio broadcasts from London aroused sympathy for Britain, but not enough to push the US into war. c. Roosevelt faced a decision: assume a “fortress America” or bolster Britain in everything but war. d. Supporters of Britain formed the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Its argument was two-fold. To interventionists, it could appeal in direct assistance of Britain. To isolationists, it could appeal to all methods short of war, leaving intervention across the ocean. e. Isolationists formed the America First Committee that contended that America should defend our own shores in case Hitler attacked across the ocean. Their most famous orator was Charles A. Lindbergh. f. Britain was in need of destroyers as Germany threatened to starve them out. Roosevelt (Sept. 2, 1940) agreed to transfer fifty old-model four-funnel destroyers to Britain in exchange for eight valuable defensive bases from Newfoundland to South America to remain with America for 99 years. g. The transfer was highly questionable, without any type of consent by Congress. The transfer brought praise from some, but condemnation from isolationists. Antiadministration Republicans decried the secrecy of it, but Roosevelt couldn’t risk submitting it to the will of Congress. h. Shifting warships was definitely a violation of neutral obligations, but Hitler’s actions rendered such concepts foolish. Public opinion polls supported intervening in the affair, even at the risk of hostilities. FDR Shatters the Two-Term Tradition (1940) a. The election would come in the middle of the crisis. The two leading republicans were Robert A. Taft and Thomas E. Dewey, but Wendell L. Willkie swept the convention off its feet. His main appeal was his honest personality. b. The delegates finally accepted that he was the only candidate with potential to beat FDR. The Republican platform condemned FDR’s dictatorship and the confusion of the New Deal. Willkie wasn’t opposed to the New Deal, just its inefficiencies. He was branded as the “rich man’s Roosevelt.” c. Roosevelt delayed his announcement to run a 3rd term until the last minute. He wanted to retire, but couldn’t leave the nation when it needed him. The democratic delegates realized they could only win against Willkie with FDR. d. Willkie went on a speech-making campaign. The country was already divided among isolationists and interventionists and Willkie could have widened the breach with an attack on FDR’s methods of interventionism. e. Both promised to stay out of war and strengthen the nation’s defenses, but Willkie hit at FDR the “dictator.” f. Roosevelt, busy with problems, made few speeches. Stung by allegations that he was leading the nation to slaughter, Roosevelt promised not to send troops into a foreign war. He supported the New Deal and support to the Allies. g. FDR won, but Willkie ran a close race, closer than 1932 or 1936. Democratic majorities in Congress remained. h. Roosevelt won in spite of the 3rd term handicap. The nation felt that an experienced hand should led the nation during a war, not the completely inexperienced hand of Willkie. i. Roosevelt might not have won without WWII, but then again he might not have even run. Congress Passes the Landmark Lend-Lease Law a. By late 1940, Britain was running out of money and its American credits were diminishing. In response, Roosevelt finally devised a plan to lend guns and tanks to the reeling Allies. Taft protested that the US wouldn’t want it back.
The Lend-Lease Bill was praised by the administration as a measure to keep the US out of war. Roosevelt promised the US would be the “arsenal of democracy.” It would furnish the war while the Allies fought. It would keep the war on the other side of the Atlantic and debts could be settled by returning the equipment or the equivalent. c. Most of the bill’s opposition came from isolationists and anti-Roosevelt Republicans who called it the “blank-check bill” to “plow under every fourth American boy.” Nevertheless, it was approved with sweeping majorities. d. The lend-lease was a challenge to the Axis dictators. The US had pledged itself to arm the Allies. At the end, the US had spent $50 billion on equipment. It was an economic declaration of war – foreshadowing a shooting one. e. The bill ended any pretense of neutrality. The American public came to realize it had to abandon the 19th century methods of operating or be forced to face the dictators alone when Britain collapsed. f. The bill also increased production at US factories, pulling out of the depression. g. Hitler recognized lend-lease as an unofficial declaration of war. Before, Hitler had been avoiding attacking the US, remembering 1917-1918. After the bill, there was less point in currying US favor. On May 21, 1941, the Robin Moor was torpedoed and the sinkings began. Hitler’s Assault on the Soviet Union Spawns the Atlantic Charter a. One of the globe-shaking WWII events was Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. b. As masters of double-cross, Hitler and Stalin didn’t trust each other under the pact of 1939. Their secret bickering over the spoils over war cause Stalin to balk at German control of the Balkans. Hitler decided to crush the Soviet Union, seize the oil and resources and then be free to attack Britain. He assumed his superior army would win easily. c. On June 22, 1941, Hitler attacked his supposed ally. This seemed like a boon to the democratic world, as the two evils could fight it out amongst each other. However, the Soviets quickly collapsed. d. Common sense said the US should help Russia. Roosevelt promised support and made military supplies available. Later, he extended $1 billion in lend-lease. Meanwhile, Hitler was stopped outside Moscow by winter snow. e. The Atlantic Conference was held in August 1941. Winston Churchill and FDR met off the coast of Newfoundland in a precedent-setting meeting to discuss common problems, including the menace of Japan in the Far East. f. The offspring of the get-together was the eight-point Atlantic Charter. It was formerly accepted by America, Britain and later the USSR. Reminiscent of Wilson’s 14 points, it laid out aspirations for a better world after the war. g. The charter was specific. It forbade imperialistic takeovers and decreed that there would be self-determination. It affirmed the right to choose a government and retain that which a dictator abolishes. The charter declared disarmament and a peace of security, pending a new international security. h. Liberals the world over took heart in the charter, especially those subjugated to a dictator. But it was condemned in the US by isolationists and other anti-Roosevelts for being unneutral. They didn’t realize the country wasn’t neutral. U.S. Destroyers and Hitler’s U-boats Clash a. The lend-lease munitions were bound to be sunk by Germany. They would have to be escorted by US warships. The possibility of being “convoyed into war” was discussed and dismissed. They would only make one commitment. b. In July 1941, FDR made the decision to convoy as far as Iceland, where Britain would take it the rest of the way. c. Hitler’s orders were to attack only in self defense. In Sept. 1941, the US destroyer Greer was provoking a U-boat, a clash that ended without harm to either side. Roosevelt proclaimed a shoot-on-sight policy. On Oct. 17, the escorting destroyer Kearny lost men while battling U-boats. Two weeks later, the destroyer Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Iceland with heavy costs. d. Neutrality was now not an option for American hearts. Congress responded to public pressure and voted in Nov. 1941 to get rid of neutrality. Merchant ships could be armed and enter warzones with munitions for Britain. Surprise on Pearl Harbor a. Japan was still an ally of Nazi Germany since Sept. 1940. b. Japan was in a perilous position. It was still under the costly “China incident” which it couldn’t claim victory. Its army was dependent on US steel, scrap iron, oil and aviation gasoline. Assistance to Japan was highly unfavorable to US citizens, but Roosevelt held off an embargo, hoping to avoid Japan from attacking the Dutch East Indies. c. In late 1940, Washington enacted the first embargo against Japan followed the next year by freezing Japanese assets in the US and the cessation of all shipments of gasoline and other sinews of war. Japan could do two things: give in to the US’s pressure or attack the oil supplies of Southeast Asia. d. Negotiations in late 1941 proved futile. The US demanded Japan pull out of China and the US would renew limited trade relations. Japan was reluctant to give up China after an embarrassing war. They chose war. e. Officials in Washington knew Japan had chosen war – they had decoded Japanese messages. But the democratic US could not shoot first. Misled by Japanese ship movements, Washington believed they would strike British Malaya or the Philippines. No one believed they would be foolhardy enough to attack Hawaii. f. Tokyo deliberately prolonged negotiations in order to attack Pearl Harbor (Dec. 7, 1941). There were numerous casualties as were as a battleship fleet entirely wiped out. g. Congress realized that war had been “thrust upon” to the US and voted to declare war. America’s Transformation from Bystander to Belligerent a. The attack did hurt the Pacific fleet, but it united the US like nothing else. Isolationists were silenced. b. The US was in a bind. They wanted to stay out of the conflict, but they wanted to defend Britain. They were forced to extend unneutral aid. They wanted to halt Japanese conquests in the Far East, and had to impose embargos.
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