Isolationism in Post-World War I America

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In George Washington's farewell speech he warned the American people to beware "the insidious wiles of foreign influence." Though it was never put into law, this statement has played a major role in the American foreign policy of isolationism. American isolationist sentiment stems from the fact that America is geographically isolated from the rest of the world. American isolationist sentiment was at its peak in the years following World War I. "In the war of 1914-1918 that had set the stage on which Hitler now strutted, no people had been more reluctant combatants, and few more disappointed with the result, than the Americans"(Kennedy, 385). After losing more than fifty thousand young troops in a war that was viewed to be unnecessary, the American people began to view neutrality as the best policy. The reasons for American intervention into World War I, which included the sinking of the Lusitania and large foreign investments, were to be avoided at all cost in the unstable 1930s. The Great Depression and the New Deal promoted insulation from foreign trade in order to improve the economy. Extreme isolationist sentiment shaped and hindered Franklin Roosevelt's foreign policy in the late 1930s. The Neutrality Acts of the 1930s were designed to maintain neutrality by first eliminating the causes of World War I. As the War ripped through Europe, the American isolationists slowly began to view intervention as a necessary evil. The majority of Americans of all ages, genders, and incomes in the years following World War I were staunch advocates of American isolationism. This attitude originated from America's fortunate geographical location, which allowed the country to grow in an environment detached from all European threat and controversy. The isolation of the North American continent gave birth to the isolationist belief that America has the freedom to pick which wars to get involved with. Not only were Americans physically distant from European problems, but...
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