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America Divided

With the country still recovering from the Depression, many Americans thought we should look after America first. As news of Nazi expansion and aggression increased, the debate grew . . . in newspapers and magazines, on the radio, on campuses, and in legislative hallways.

The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., recalls 1939-41 as a period of the most divisive debate in twentieth-century American experience.

Americans responded in mixed ways.

Image of Preparedness Preparedness Roosevelt's "Peace through Preparedness" policy prepared for national defense through strengthening the armed services.
Courtesy Kenneth Waltzer

Stay Neutral Many Americans believed that an America still suffering from a depression did not have the resources to get involved in Europe's war.

Fight Others believed American needed to fight Nazi aggression at all costs.

Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war and ended the debate.

Image of Stay Neutral
  Stay Neutral
Courtesy Kenneth Waltzer