What Led To The United States Entering The Second World War, 1936 1941?

1968 words - 8 pages

“We shun political commitments which might entangle us in foreign wars…We are not isolationists except insofar as we seek to isolate ourselves from war…If we face the choice of profits or peace, this nation will answer…This nation must answer…We choose peace” Frank Delano Roosevelt, 1936

The Unites States of America was the last of the world’s great nations to fight in the Second World War. In the 1930’s, America did not use great economic, and political influence which she possessed to slow the aggressive expansionist ambitions of Germany, Japan and Italy (the Axis Alliance). Instead she chose to remain in isolation and withdrew from world affairs, which had a profound effect in the background to the war in 1939 . This essay will discuss the period between 1936-1941 and the reasons, which led America entering the Second World War in that period. In the next two paragraphs a brief reference is made to America’s expansionist past and the Spanish-American War which would provide background information about the topic of the essay in later paragraphs.

Several factors account for America’s desire to adopt an expansionist foreign policy in the 1890’s. The rapid expansion of the U.S. economy after the civil war and completion of industrialization of the country which had been briefly hindered by civil war, allowed American industries to flood the domestic market with consumer goods. Mechanization and mass production combined with improvements in transport systems, especially railroads resulted in the emergence of big manufacturing companies and modern American corporations. Significant increases in farm production and crop yields through the use of machinery in agriculture, and in general production boom in other sectors of the industry, while beneficial to the American economy, it presented new challenges. The financial panics that happened in 1873 and 1893 were in fact the result of over-production in industrial and agricultural sectors and under-consumption by the public. By 1890, many American business leaders were on the belief that foreign markets with additional consumers would lessen some of these problems and began to look acquisitively overseas in search of new markets and investment opportunities .

Beginning in the 1890s, America began to implement some of the similar imperialistic policies that it had previously criticized Britain and other European countries for. She expanded her influence in Hawaii and in 1896 annexed the islands. Following the sinking of U.S. naval ship marine in Havana harbor in February 1898, the ship sank because of an explosion and it was never definitely proved why or how it went down, America declared war on Spain in April 1898. In less than 10 months the war ended with the signing of a Treaty in Paris by representative’s of both countries. As a result Spain lost control over the remains of its overseas empire; Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippine Islands, Guam and other islands. By gaining control of these...

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