Why Did Roosevelt and Truman Succeed where Wilson Failed?
1 From 1917 to 1919 Woodrow Wilson argued that the United States faced new responsibilities for global leadership, and advocated U.S. participation in the League of Nations, a collective body designed to ensure international peace, security, and prosperity. Most Americans rejected Wilson’s overtures, however. Beginning in 1937 Franklin Roosevelt (and Truman after FDR’s death) made arguments similar to those of Wilson and ultimately built widespread public support for full involvement in World War II and postwar international organizations like the United Nations, the IMF and World Bank, etc. Why did Roosevelt and Truman succeed where Wilson failed? Had the new Democrats presented their initiatives more skillfully, had Americans changed their way of thinking about the relationship between their country and the world, had the world changed, perhaps, or was it something else? Explain using examples from readings and lecture (and note that you are not required to go into any depth about the specifics of the World War I era, but rather to engage with the thinking of Americans in the 1930s and 1940s).
Notes: Isolationist versus Interventionists (pg.769)
During 1934, Congress and the American public accepted economic interventions with various Latin American countries but the public was increasingly resistant to diplomatic initiatives that might result in political entanglements. In part, the growing support for political isolationism reflected disillusionment with American participation in World War I. As a result, the Neutrality Act of 1935 was passed and imposed an embargo on arms trading with countries at war.
Retreat from isolationism
After a bitter battle in Congress in 1939, Roosevelt won a change in the neutrality laws to allow the Allies to buy arms on a cash-and-carry basis. Interventionists, led by the journalist William Allen White and his Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, became increasingly vocal. Despite the efforts of the America