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Henry J. Brajkovic
Teachers could expand their students’ understanding of this unit of study by discussing the issues and problems that led the nations into World War II. The traditional concept of the U.S.A. as being simply the land mass between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with Alaska up on the north might be given up for a view of how our scattered Pacific island possessions with the Philippine Islands made the U.S.A. a two-continent power, a North American and an Asiatic power. With this viewpoint the following issues will not appear to be unrelated to our vital interests:
A teacher does not have to cover all of these ideas but can make a choice of the ones he/she wants to concentrate on.
1. Our response to the Japanese expansion in Asia (1930’s) and the threat the Japanese felt our policies had on their vital interests. 2. The impact of the domestic economic depression on foreign policy making. 3. The expansionist policies of the Axis Powers in Europe and Africa and how the U.S. tried to cope with them through the Neutrality Acts. 4. Our appeasement policies toward the Italian and German aggressions. 5. Our gradual awareness of a threat to the Western Hemisphere by the expansionist policies of the Axis Powers in Latin America and what we did to meet it.
With this unit of study one could make the students aware of:
A teacher can also point out that one of the determinants of formulating a foreign policy was the juxtaposition of a Congress dominated by isolationist politicians and an internationalist President.
1. Protectionism vs. international trade. 2. Great Powers vs. small nations. 3. Isolationism vs. internationalism. 4. The minority problems (Jews in Europe, Germans in Sudetenland) and what the U.S. government could or could not do. 5. When does neutrality end? 6. What are the vital interests of a nation and what will a nation do to protect them?
Other important points to stress to the students could be;
1. How did F.D.R. advance his policies? 2. When did F.D.R. bow to the power of Congress? 3. When did F.D.R, respond to the national will to stay out of war?
With the Crash of 1929 and subsequent bank failures, economic problems became the forefront of concern of American businessmen and the government, while rising unemployment and the uncertainty of employment became the chief worry of the people.
Former President Hoover’s call for an International Economic Conference to be held in London in 1933 was wrecked by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s refusal to agree to peg the value of the U.S. dollar to any other currency because he felt it would hurt his efforts to raise American farm prices.
The students should become aware that the Good Neighbor Policy was a continuous policy and not a campaign slogan. In 1936, when F.D. Roosevelt attended the Pan American Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he showed that the United States was willing to stop dominating weaker nations by its adherence to the “Declaration of Principles of Inter-American Solidarity and Cooperation,” and that the Latin American countries would be treated as equals.
(a) the American withdrawal of marines from Haiti, (b) a new treaty signed with Cuba whereby the Platt Amendment was nullified, (c) the U.S. giving up the right to police the Panama government in 1939, (d) the U.S. giving up control of finances of the Dominican Republic, (e) and only making mild protests to the Mexican government when it took over oil and farmlands owned by American citizens, thereby repudiating dollar diplomacy.
Sometimes students feel that treaties are just pieces of paper signed by dignitaries, and then forgotten. A way of showing the students that this is not so all the time is to point out that the above treaty brought about concrete results:
Following Hoover’s example, F.D. Roosevelt supplanted economic nationalism with economic cooperation:
(a) A government cultural exchange program was instituted, supplemented by local and private agencies. (b) Hollywood film makers agreed to change the image of Latins in their films. (c) Time Magazine started publishing in Spanish and Portuguese.
After war broke out in Europe in 1939, the earlier Declaration of Lima was strengthened at a conference in Panama to secure “the sovereignty, political independence of the American states” and set up the machinery to make the declaration effective, with Latin American countries as coequal partners. This made the Monroe Doctrine more forceful by changing it from a unilateral U.S. doctrine to a multilateral Pan-American doctrine.
(a) Reciprocity treaties were made with 15 different Latin American countries. (b) U.S. government capital gradually replaced private investments through the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Treasury Department. (c) F.D. Roosevelt increased, nearly by double, the annual payments to Panama for canal rights.
The earlier Neutrality Acts dealt with war among nations and did not deal with civil wars. The new Neutrality Act of 1937 hurt the Loyalist government in Spain. According to Robert A. Divine, this Neutrality Act of 1937 made U.S. “a silent accomplice of Hitler” since Germany was not hampered in sending supplies to General Franco’s rebel forces, while the United States was hampered in sending supplies to the Loyalist government. To the Germans, this evidence of American isolation simply reinforced the Anglo-French appeasement policies. This Act also did not help the Chinese who were fighting against the Japanese invasion.
However, Roosevelt tried to arouse the American public with his “Quarantine” speech in Chicago in 1937. He proposed to quarantine aggressors by joining other powers in such an effort. Isolationist feelings were still too strong among the American people and he was, therefore, unsuccessful.
The German persecution of German-Jews during 1934-1936 brought loud protestations by different Jewish-American organizations, including a mock trial at Madison Square Garden in March, 1934. The German ambassador protested, but Secretary of State Cordell Hull could not stop the rally. There was no enthusiasm for the idea to bring German-Jews to America because the economics of the Depression governed official mentality in 1933. With high unemployment Roosevelt’s government upheld Hoover’s executive order not to admit to the United States persons “who were likely to become public charges.” Franklin D. Roosevelt’s government refused to give even a “token” amount of contributions to the League of Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (Jewish and others) coming from Germany until other countries made contributions first. The scheme of Hjalmar Schacht, president of the German Reichsbank, to use one-quarter of the German-Jewish assets to finance purchases of German machinery after the Jews settled in the U.S., fell through. According to Arnold Offner, “conceivably Germany’s Jews might have been spared future destruction had this plan been implemented.” Later in 1938 the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, said that the question of German-Jews was “an internal German problem and was not subject to discussion” at the Evian Conference.
The deliberate Japanese attack upon the American gunboat Panay in China left Americans unmoved. The majority of Americans thought that the United States should get out of China completely. The Japanese were willing to pay for the damages. In 1939, Roosevelt supplied Nationalist China with some supplies because Japan had not declared war on China even though it was fighting a war. This lack of declaration of war of the part of Japan provided a loophole in the Neutrality Act so Roosevelt was able to send aid to China. This technicality in the Neutrality Act made it possible for Japan to fulfill 90% of its needs for copper and metal scrap by buying it from the United States. The cash-and-carry provision that Bernard Baruch had earlier proposed for the Neutrality Act of 1937 helped Japan but not China. Japan had a great merchant fleet and the necessary cash for American resources.
The effect of Germany’s attack on Poland in 1939 brought about a declaration by President Roosevelt “to be neutral in deed if not in thought.” It became evident that the Neutrality Acts favored Germany since Germany had no need to buy armaments, while Britain and France had great needs. He urged Congress to repeal the arms embargo. His appeal was finally answered by Congress with the provision that England and France supply the ships and cash for armaments. Title to all exports were to be transferred before the goods left the U.S. With such provisions in the revision of the Neutrality Act, Americans felt there was no risk of getting involved in the European war. Franklin D. Roosevelt never hinted that his proposals for the revision of the Neutrality Act would link the United States with England and France against Germany.
*Even while observing the provisions of the Neutrality Acts, Roosevelt began in 1939 to prepare for eventual participation in the war on the side of the western powers.
*After the Neutrality Act of 1939 was signed by President Roosevelt, he proclaimed the North Atlantic a combat zone. In the first few months of war between the Allies (England and France) and Germany (September 1939), Franklin D. Roosevelt made every possible effort to insulate the United States from the European conflict.
To the French Premier Reynaud’s request for American aid, Roosevelt could only answer that the U.S. could not give any aid. He stated that Congress could only declare war.
Soon afterwards Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a five-fold increase of the Navy. In May 1940, Churchill asked for 40 or 50 overage destroyers. By September 1940 a destroyers-for-bases agreement was made; thereby the U.S. openly declared its support of England in the war against Germany. This act marked the end of American neutrality.
In June 1940 Japan entered the fourth year of war against China. Japan sealed Chiang Kai-shek’s forces by having the British close the Burma Road, and forced the French (through the Vichy government) to ban military shipments via trains through Indo-China.
Only the United States stood between Japan and its dominance of all Asia. President Roosevelt ordered the Pacific fleet to have maneuvers off Hawaii and ordered the fleet to remain indefinitely nearby. He also transferred the fleet’s base from California to Hawaii.
The National Defense Act of 1940 gave the President the right to place embargoes on any materials deemed essential to national defense. When Morgenthay and Stimson persuaded Franklin D. Roosevelt to place oil and scrap iron on the list of materials essential for national security, Sumner Welles protested. The President then limited the embargo to aviation gasoline and only the highest grade of scrap iron. This made for a major departure in American foreign policy.
The embargo of materials for Japan came too late since Japan decided to carry out its plan for the New Order in Asia, i.e., conquest of Southeast Asia. A Tripartite Pact was made between Germany, Italy and Japan. Germany wanted to prevent American entry into the war, while Japan wanted to frighten the U.S. with the prospect of a possible two-ocean war.
The 1940 election campaign in the U.S. was on. Roosevelt made a statement, “Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” However, the following comment was not part of his speech: “Of course, we’ll fight if we’re attacked. If someone attacks us, then it isn’t a foreign war.”
In December 1940 Roosevelt asserted that England was America’s first line of defense. Since Britain needed supplies to help protect American security, the simplest solution was to lease the materials. According to Robert A. Divine, the passage of the Lend-Lease Bill in March 1941 was a major turning point in American foreign policy. The U.S. was firmly committed to the goal of defeating Germany. President Roosevelt gave permission to British and American military staff members to meet during January through March 1941 in order to coordinate military strategy in the event the U.S. entered war against Germany. They determined that Germany was to be first defeated, while the U.S. would stand on the defensive toward Japan in the Pacific.
The Hemisphere Neutrality Belt (300 miles out into the Atlantic), which was established in October 1939, was extended by April 1941 to the 25° Meridian, approximately the half-point line in the Atlantic between Europe and America. Even though the agreement was secret, this line cut into Germany’s announced submarine warfare zone (March 1941).
The Danish government-in-exile placed Greenland under U.S. protection and authorized the construction of air and naval bases there.
Roosevelt’s policy was that American warships were not to shoot at German submarines, and therefore no convoy duty for American warships would be allowed.
To help China, Colonel Claire L. Chennault’s “Flying Tigers” were organized with 50 American airplanes, and de-commissioned American aviators-officers were sent to China.
From December 1940 on, additional materials were placed weekly on the embargo list for Japan, and thereby an economic sanction policy was in force, except for oil. Denying oil to Japan would have brought about dire consequences.
On July 1, 1941, the U.S. and Iceland reached an agreement to allow 4,000 marines to be sent to Iceland to forestall a German invasion.
By August 1941, the U.S. gave Russia its first formal commitment of assistance.
Even though the U.S. was neutral, Roosevelt met Churchill off the coast of Newfoundland on a British warship. He resisted Churchill’s efforts to make him declare a warning to Japan that their continued aggression in Asia would bring war with the U.S.A.
The Atlantic Charter was drawn up by Churchill and Roosevelt with the following statement of principles, among them:
On July 26, 1941, the United States declared a full-scale embargo ending all trade with Japan. Great Britain and her Dominions and the Dutch authorities did the same. It was disastrous for Japan.
1. a pledge against aggression. 2. a promise of self-determination in territorial changes. 3. respect for the right of self-government and freedom of speech. 4. a creation of an effective international organization. (Roosevelt rejected it.)
In September 1941 the Japanese asked for a summit meeting between the Prime Minister Price Konoye and Roosevelt. Konoye hoped to get American approval of Japanese dominance in the Far East. The United States insisted that Japan give up the New Order in Asia and to withdraw troops from China and Indochina. This insistence of America ended the last chance for diplomatic accommodation between Japan and the U.S. in 1941. Konoye’s government fell from power on October 16, 1941. General Hideki Tojo formed a new cabinet. He pledged to fulfill Japan’s destiny in Asia.
The Japanese attack upon the American gunboat Greer in China brought about Roosevelt’s reply that American warships would escort merchant marine ships and would get orders to “shoot-on-sight.”
By November 7, 1941, Roosevelt got the Senate to vote for arming merchant ships.
According to Robert Divine, Roosevelt surrendered the decision for war to Tojo and Hitler.
On November 1, 1941, Tojo decided to have one more month of negotiations with the American government. If these failed, preparations for wars with America, England, and the Netherlands were to be completed by early December.
Roosevelt’s position was that Japan could continue its war with China, but could not move southward toward Thailand and the 100° Meridian, for such a move would result in a war with the United States. The American breaking of the Japanese secret code made Secretary of State Cordell Hull aware that if no agreement was reached by November 29, 1941, “things are automatically going to happen.”
American response to Japan was a 10-point reply, giving the same demands which Japan could not accept. Tojo and his cabinet met with the Emperor on December 1, 1941. Japan decided on war.
After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Congress passed a Declaration of War on Japan. Later, on December 11, 1941, Germany declared war on the U.S.A. So did Italy. On the same day, Congress adopted a resolution recognizing a state of war with them.
A teacher could bring to the attention of the students a controversy that arose during the early part of World War II. Was the concentration of our Navy (more than 70 ships) at Pearl Harbor a deliberate act to draw the Japanese to attack it? The Americans had broken the Japanese secret code and were aware that the Japanese were preparing to go to war against the U.S.A. With all the knowledge of the Japanese diplomatic moves, could there not have been a way found to keep the U.S. out of war?
I. The Life of F.D.R. A. His family background B. His education and jobs before entering government service C. His experience in the Federal Government (1913-1920) D. New York State politics and F.D.R. (State Senator) E. His defeat in the national election of 1920 as Vice-presidential candidate F. His illness, recuperation, and the consequences of illness G. His actions as Governor of New York during two terms II. The Election of 1932 A. The Stock Market Crash B. The coming of the Depression C. The Republican Party and Herbert Hoover’s platform D. The Democratic Party and F.D.R.’s New Deal E. Election Results
Week Three I. Europe in the 1930’s
I. F.D.R., the President—First Term (1932-1936) A. Domestic Problems 1. Finding solutions to the problems B. The New Deal Laws and their provisions: 1. The reopening of banks 2. C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps) 3. National Recovery Administration 4. Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A.) 5. Agricultural Adjustment Act 6. Homeowners Loan Corporation 7. Social Security Act 8. Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) 9. The Wagner Act C. F.D.R. vs. the Supreme Court
A. The consequences of the Treaty of Versailles B. The emergence of fascism in Italy (1920’s and 1930’s) C. The rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany D. The Spanish Civil War E. Resurgent Imperialism and the League of Nations 1. Italy and Ethiopia 2. Japan and China (Manchukuo) F. The Axis Powers by 1939 G. Appeasement in Munich H. Hitler and Stalin’s Nonaggression Treaty I. Poland vs. Germany and U.S.S.R (1939)
I. F.D.R.’s Foreign Policies A. The Good Neighbor Policy and Pan-Americanism B. The stalemate between F.D.R. and Congress over Neutrality Acts C. The dismantlement of the Neutrality Acts D. U.S. entry into World War II E. Constitutional restraints upon the Executive branch of government
There are two choices one can make in selecting word lists.
The above list would cover the text dealing with the Good Neighbor Policy and Pan-Americanism only.
1. Choosing words from the test that the students might find difficult to understand or spell. Example: In History of a Free People by Henry W. Bragdon & Samuel P. McCutchen, The MacMillan Co., N.Y. pages 650-652, Chapter 28. (a) definition of words
-Caribbean area -World organization -international cooperation -isolationist -Nazi Germany -crusade -inaugural address -Western Hemisphere -internal affairs (of a nation) -external affairs (of a nation) -intervention -corollary -The Monroe Doctrine -nonintervention -Platt Amendment -finances (of a government) -to police a government -Pan-Americanism -to forego -territorial conquest -to dominate -to break precedent -agricultural problems -cultural relations -cultural ties -caballeros -senoritas -gringo -natural habitat -incessantly -local and private agencies -mural(s) -mutual ignorance -mutual distrust
2. Choosing words that would cover the general topic of F.D.R.’s conduct of foreign affairs. Example: (a) definition of words
-fascism -tariff -Nazism -rearmament -embargo -Blitzkrieg -appeasement -dictator -nationalization -Chancellor -neutrality -Premier -reciprocity -Prime Minister -reciprocal trade -diplomatic recognition -vital interest -government policy (b) Persons to know -Neville Chamberlain -Winston S. Churchill -Francisco Franco -Adolf Hitler -Benito Mussolini -Edward Benes(h) -Cordell Hull -Joseph Stalin -Edouard Daladier -Quisling
The teacher asks the students to make two columns in their notebook. One column would have the title “Our Image of Latin Americans,” and the other column would have the title “Latin American Image of Us.” The students should write a description of an imaginary Latin American in the appropriate column. This should be followed by a short discussion of what different students had written. The second column could first be discussed with the class and the teacher could write out on the blackboard different contributions given by the students. The students could copy the blackboard material. This should help get the class involved in attitude and stereotype making. Do not spend too much time on this activity.
Questions for classroom discussion:
1. Do the actions of the U.S. government toward Latin American government create an attitude toward us? How? Give an example. (an imaginary or real example based on the chapter) Possible answer: The landing of U.S. Marines. 2. What principle did the U.S. declare at the Pan-American Conference in Montevideo in 1933? Possible answer: Nonintervention. The U.S. gave up the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other states. 3. What specific actions did Roosevelt take to implement his Good Neighbor Policy in: (a) Cuba. Possible answer: The Platt Amendment was voided. (b) Panama. Possible answer: The U.S. gave up the right to police the government of Panama. (c) The Dominican Republic. Possible answer: The U.S. abandoned control of the finances of the Dominican Republic. (d) Haiti. Possible answer: The U.S. pulled out the Marines. 4. How did F.D. Roosevelt handle the seizure of the property of the American oil companies in Mexico in 1938? Possible answer: Roosevelt made only mild protests and urged the oil companies to accept low payment for their properties by the Mexican government. 5. What advice did the American oil companies give F.D.R.? Possible answer: Send in the Marines. How did Roosevelt respond to their demand? Possible answer: He didn’t follow it. 6. What steps did Roosevelt take to improve trade between Latin America and U.S.A.? Possible answer: He approved the reciprocal lowering of the tariffs. 7. In what way did the lowering of the tariffs help the American workers? Possible answer: It stimulated the economy and provided jobs.
Review the following concepts before continuing with the lesson:
Questions for classroom discussion:
1. Fascism is . . . (Possible Answer: When the state controls the total life of the people.) 2. An internationalist is . . . (Possible answer: One who believes in cooperation among nations.) 3. An isolationist is . . . (Possible answer: A person who believes that the U.S. should stay out of international organizations, such as the League of Nations and the World Court. He/she also believes the U.S. should stay out of foreign wars.)
The teacher should give a short background talk on the Spanish Civil War. He/she could put on the blackboard the following information:
1. Why were most Americans isolationists in the early 1930’s? Possible answer: They were disappointed with the peace settlements, uncollectible debts from the Allies, and the problems that the Depression brought about. 2. What did the Nye committee investigate? Possible answer: It investigated the American armament manufacturers. What was one of its major findings? Possible answer: The munitions manufacturers made large profits during 1914-1917. Ask the students whether they would have been internationalists or isolationists at that time. 3. What is pacifism? Possible answer: It is a belief that an individual and a country should not go to war but should live in peace, no matter what the price. Ask the students to think of a slogan(s) that expresses pacifism. Possible answers: “Make love not war,” “Better Red than Dead.” 4. What were the provisions of the Neutrality Act of 1935? Possible answer: No arms shipments to belligerents. 5. How was the problem of keeping the U.S. out of war dealt with in the Neutrality Act of 1937? Possible answer: It dealt with the problem by forbidding American ships to carry arms to the belligerent nations. What was meant by the term “cash-and-carry” in this act? Possible answer: The belligerents would have to pay for the goods in the U.S.A. and carry the goods away in their own ships. What nations benefited by this act? Possible answer: Japan and Germany. 6. How did Congress try to keep American ships from being sunk? Possible answer: Congress prohibited the ships to enter ocean combat zones.
1. Explain who the Loyalists and the Rebels were. 2. List the nations that backed the Loyalists. 3. List the nations that supplied the Rebels. 4. Indicate the leader of the Rebels. 5. Indicate why the U.S. government was unable and unwilling to help the Loyalists. Possible answer: The Neutrality Act of 1935 did not apply to civil wars, but only to nations at war.
Divine, Robert A. The Reluctant Belligerent: American Entry Into World War II. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1965.
Divine, Robert A., ed. Causes and Consequences of World War II. Chicago: 1969. The introduction and Chapter II are helpful.
Feis, Herbert. The Road to Pearl Harbor: The Coming of the War Between the United States and Japan. Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1950.
Mowry, George E. The Urban Nation, 1920-1960. New York: Hall and Wang, 1965. 278 pages. Chapter 5 covers foreign policy from 1933-1941.
Offner, Arnold. American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany, 1933-1938. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.
Pew, Thomas, W., Jr. “Route 66: Ghost Road of the Okies.” American Heritage, 28, No. 5 (1977), 36-44.
Terkel, Louis (Studs). Hard Times. New York: Pantheon Books, Random House, 1970. Very interesting personalities tell their own experience.
Wigginton, Eliot. “I Wish I Could Give My Son A Wild Raccoon.” Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976. Oral history interviews of people who lived through and after the Depression. Interesting reading.
Winslow, Susan. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? America from the Wall Street Crash to Pearl Harbor. Paddington Press, Ltd., 1976. An illustrated and an interesting book for the students with newspaper headlines, photographs, and quotations from books and magazines.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. The Voice of F.D.R: Excerpts of His Speeches during the Presidential Years (1932-1945). Foreword by Robert Sherwood, special narration by Quenin Reynolds. Decca Records, DL9628.
Morison, Samuel E., and William F. Suchmann. Samuel Eliot Morison Discusses American History with William F. Suchmann: Pearl Harbor No. 9. (The Academic Recording Institute,) No. 9/
The teacher could select portions of these records that would cover the material in this unit.
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