Isolationists. Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1935



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Chapter 11 A World in Flames, 1931-1941

Lesson 2 From Neutrality to War
OUTLINING DIRECTIONS: Read the lesson and complete the outline below.
I. American Neutrality

A. Many Americans did not want to become involved in the international conflicts and were called isolationists. Congress passed the Neutrality Act of 1935, reflecting the idea that arms sales brought the United States into World War I.

B. A second neutrality act continued the ban on selling arms to warring nations, and required non-military supplies to be bought on a cash and carry basis.

C. President Roosevelt believed in internationalism, the idea that trade between nations creates prosperity and prevents war .



How does internationalism differ from isolationism?

Internationalism encourages trade to foster peace and prosperity. Isolationism avoids involvement in world affairs. Roosevelt felt isolationism or neutrality “might drag us into the war instead of keeping us out”
II. Neutrality Tested

A. Although Roosevelt wanted the United States to remain neutral, he sent the British old destroyers in exchange for the right to build American bases in British territories.

B. By 1940, most Americans believed in giving limited aid to the Allies.

C. However, some groups, such as the America First Committee, opposed any intervention to help the Allies.

D. To help Britain, the Lend-Lease Act allowed the U.S. to send weapons to them if they agreed to return or pay rent for them after the war.

E. The United States sent supplies to the Soviet Union after Germany invaded in 1941.

F. Because the United States was neutral, Roosevelt developed the Hemispheric Defense Zone idea that the western half of the Atlantic Ocean was also neutral. The U.S. Navy could reveal the location of German submarines to the British.

How did President Roosevelt assist Britain while maintaining U.S. neutrality?

He sent old destroyers to Britain and “sold” arms under the Lend Lease Act. He developed the hemispheric defense system. Later, signed the Atlantic Charter.

III. Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

A. When Roosevelt blocked the sale of airplane fuel and scrap iron , Japan signed an alliance with Germany and Italy to become a member of the Axis .

B. Roosevelt reduced the amount of oil exported to Japan, so Japan decided to seize the Philippines and attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 . The next day, he asked Congress to declare war on Japan.

C. On December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.



How did the U.S. try to slow Japan’s advances in the Pacific?

The U.S. restricted the sale strategic materials (items important for fighting a war). Roosevelt then blocked the sale of airplane fuel and scrap iron to Japan, causing Japan to join the Axis. Sent lend-lease aid to China. Froze Japanese assets in the U.S. Built up defenses in the Philippines.

Summarize the main ideas of this lesson by answering the question below. Why did the United States want to remain neutral and how did it become involved in World War II?


The United States wanted to remain neutral because after WWI, most European nations refused to pay their debts. Because arms factories made so much money during the war, many Americans felt they had steered the country into war. The U.S. tried to remain neutral, but the British needed help. Roosevelt gave indirect aid by revising the neutrality laws, providing them with old destroyers and help in detecting submarines in the Atlantic. When Roosevelt restricted airplane fuel and scrap metal sales to Japan, Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy. When the U.S. restricted oil sales, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. War was declared. Four days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.


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