U.S. response to Japan and Hitler was isolationism

According to Robert Dallek, the years 1934-37 were the high tide of isolationism in America. President Franklin Roosevelt "felt almost hopeless against the worldwide drift toward war. He remarked to William Bullitt, these "may be the last days of ... peace before a long chaos." (p. 122) Roosevelt was unwilling to act and "allowed domestic and international constraints to limit him to a series of small actions." (p. 168)

The Senate Munitions Investigating Committee included Arthur H. Vandenberg, Bennett Champ Clark, Gerald Nye,young counsel Alger Hiss, Homer T. Bone.

Sept. 1934 - Nye Committee led by Sen. Gerald P. Nye of N. Dakota

summer 1935 - 1st Neutrality Act introduced

Aug. 19 - Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves Pittman bill
Aug. 21 - Senate passes bill and sends to House
Aug. 23 - House passes bill with 6-month time limit
Aug. 24 - Senate passes amended bill
Aug. 31 - FDR signs bill

  1. mandatory arms embargo: "upon the outbreak or during the progress of war between, or among, two or more foreign states, the President shall proclaim such fact, and it shall thereafter be unlawful to export arms, ammunition, or implements of war to any port of such belligerent states."
  2. discretionary travel restrictions
  3. will expire in 6 months - Feb. 29, 1936

Isolationists were strong influence on foreign policy 1935-40

Ethiopia Invaded


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