1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election amid the by Susan Dunn
By Susan Dunn
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Additional info for 1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler—the Election amid the Storm
1 Was Roosevelt really willing to wear the isolationist label? No—and yes. ” As assistant secretary of the navy, he had observed war for himself on French and Belgian battlefields. In Chautauqua he remembered that summer of 1918. “I have seen blood running from the wounded,” he said. “I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. ” No act of his administration, he promised, as if holding up a pacifist banner, would produce or promote war. Still, though he had just strengthened the isolationist cause, he injected a note of realism by reminding Americans that uncertainty always reigned.
21 The president reaped the worst of both worlds, leaving internationalists frustrated and isolationists enraged. ”22 During those critical years between 1936 and 1940, FDR in fact neither satisfied the internationalists’ desire that America play a more vital role in world affairs nor disabused isolationists of the comforting illusion that the nation’s neutrality laws and arms embargoes—which one historian termed “the American Maginot line”23—would keep them out of war. With an eye cocked on isolationists in the halls of Congress as well as on the newspaper world and opinion polls, he had saddled himself with a makeshift foreign policy.
28 A few days later, on September 12, Roosevelt listened on the radio as Hitler spoke to a frenzied crowd of thirty thousand people in Nuremberg. Announcing that he had placed on his own head Germany’s “thousand-year-old crown,” the Führer proclaimed German invincibility and poured scorn on the democracies of Europe. ”29 “I have never heard Adolf so full of hate,” wrote CBS radio’s Berlinbased correspondent William Shirer, “his audience quite so on the borders of bedlam. ”30 After Hitler’s speech, Roosevelt sent his emissary, Harry Hopkins, to the West Coast to inspect the aircraft industry with the aim of expanding it for war production.