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Why did the United States enter World War II?

America tried to stay neutral, yet in the face of impending war we slowly become more involved. Long before we entered the war FDR said this:

Innocent peoples are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy...Let no one imagine that America will escape...There is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality...War is a contagion, whether it be declared or not. It seems unfortunately true that the epidemic of lawlessness is spreading. 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. I call today for a similar quarantine. A quarantine of the lawless, a quarantine of those that threaten world peace.

--Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The Quarantine Speech, 10/5/37

As the depression swept through the United States it also laid waste to the continent of Europe. America wrapped itself in the cocoon of isolationism and took a rather dim view of the affairs of Europe. We were concerned about preserving our way of life but little did we know that the greatest threat to the American way of life lie in the continent we so casually regarded. As America embraced democracy and a modified capitalism many European turned to fascism and aggression. It would only be a matter of time before America would be forced to respond.

What was the reaction of some European nations to the problems of the depression?

Many turned to fascism

-Germany - Adolf Hitler

-Italy - Benito Mussolini

-Russia - Vladimir Ilich Lenin, Josef Stalin

-Spain - Francisco Franco

-General Togo - Japan

How did these dictators threaten world peace?

1. Italy's invasion of Ethiopia.

2. Germany remilitarized Rhineland, annexed Austria , took Czechoslovakia and then invaded Poland.

3. Japan's attack on China and annexation of Manchuria


How did the League of Nations respond?

Did nothing.

Appeasement - led to loss of Czechoslovakia.

How did America respond to the European threat?

Attempted to stay neutral.

  • Neutrality Acts of 1933

When the war began in Europe we began to support England, France and the Soviet Union.

  • Neutrality Act of 1937 - "Cash and Carry" - supported England
  • Lend Lease - aid to England, France and Soviet Union
  • Destroyer - Naval Base deal with England.
  • US was the "Arsenal of democracy."

When did the US enter the war?

When Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese.

Allies - US, England, France, Soviet Union

Axis - Germany, Italy, Japan


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