“Pressure groups also spearheaded the opposition.  In July [1940], Yale University students and midwestern businessmen formed the America First Committee.  As the name suggests, America Firsters ardently opposed intervention –and aid to Britain, which, they argued, would inevitably lead to intervention.  They saw the war not as a great ideological conflict but as another round in the endless struggle among Europeans for power and empire.  The United States, they insisted, had no stake in that conflict.  Some like aviator hero Charles Lindbergh preached accommodation with Hitler.  Others minimized the German threat and advocated defense of the Western Hemisphere.  America First was an unwieldy coalition of strange bedfellows, businessmen, old progressives and leftists, and some strongly anti-Jewish groups.  Many blamed Roosevelt’s interventionist policies on a personal lust for power.  These various groups created local and regional offices, organized rallies, sent out mailings, and propagandized Congress.” –George Herring, From Colony to Superpower, p. 521-22.

Discussion Questions

  • What was the essential context behind the strong anti-war movement in the late 1930s and early 1940s?
  • How did FDR overcome the opposition of America First and general isolationist sentiment to secure Lend-Lease aid for Great Britain (and later the Soviet Union)?