Neutrality Before 1941
When the United States entered the war in 1941, it did not possess a single and coherent conception of neutrality. Too much had changed since the outbreak of the First World War, when America expected to practise integral neutrality but discovered that this had become difficult. Between 1914 and 1917, there was a furious debate over the meaning and practice of neutrality, a dispute which revealed that there was no longer any consensus about neutrality. The withdrawal into neo-isolation after the First World War did nothing to settle the question. On the contrary, as Congress and the nation began to define the new neutrality clearly in the mid-thirties, the divisions were as deep as ever. The debates over the Neutrality Acts of 1935, 1936 and 1937 showed how unsure America had become about its role in the world. This was plainly a time of transition, and the country did not yet know which way to go.
KeywordsDepression Europe Assure Hull Defend
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