The initial American policy at the outset of the Second World War was officially one of isolationist neutrality. It shouldn't have been our war; didn't have to be through any obvious necessity by September, 1939. Not unless the Axis aggressors were determined to make it so…
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That fiction of neutrality became threatened by a long string of Nazi victories in Europe. The administration of President Franklin Roosevelt soon began to look for options give aid to Britain while remaining out of the war in a strictly military sense. 'If your neighbor's house is on fire, should you not help to extinguish it?' Britain's house was ablaze, and it is doubtful the total collapse of Britain and democratic states in Western Europe would not have posed a threat to the United States at a future date. (Hickman, 2012)
Still, any attempt to lend direct aid to the Allies would be met with political opposition; Congress as well as many ordinary Americans heeded the warnings of the Nation's first President against entanglements in European Wars. The First World War did little to disabuse the public of this notion. As World War II became inevitable there were few indications that the United States would become a colossal industrial powerhouse that would prove the primary source of military assistance. Although American sympathies were definitely aligned with the nations who opposed Nazi-ism and Fascism, prior to late 1939 (September) the government espoused a policy of strict neutrality, thus little to no effort was made to place the economy on a war footing. The fear of a new European war was real, and compelling.Such fears prompted Congress to pass the Neutrality Act of 1935 and subsequent supporting amendments in 1936 and 1937. The totality of these measures made it illegal to grant loans or export warfare implements to belligerent countries. In addition, the Johnson Act of 1934 prohibited purchases on credit to any nation in default of payments to the United States. Great Britain and France placed large orders for munitions, but were required to pay for their items on a strict "cash and carry" basis. The situation in Europe worsened on September 1, 1939 when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Two days following the attack, both France and British declared war on Germany; sparking a conflict that was soon to stretch from China, to Ethiopia, and Civil War in Spain. The market for American Munitions was to become global. (Martel, 2007 p.7, p.165) The Neutrality Act placed the federal government in a bind, whereby they needed to freeze pending orders by law at the commencement of open hostilities. Yet the President was sensitive to the undercurrent of sympathy from the American public in support of democratic governments fighting Nazi aggression. The President was also very aware of the desperate need of Britain and France for American munitions and supplies. Thus, President Franklin Roosevelt called a special session of Congress in order to propose a means to secure legislative relief. On November 4, 1939 Congress passed the Pittman Act, which served to lift the embargo. Supplying French and British orders for munitions aided American industry in the conversion from commercial to the military production that would soon be needed. It also helped the chronic unemployment rates of the Great Depression. To facilitate the transition it was necessary to distribute the orders with equanimity. Rather than devise a special new bureaucracy, the government employed the existing Clearance Committee of the Army and Navy Munitions Board for the purpose of organizing the supply/munitions purchase-leases. Another obstacle to America's effort to equip foreign belligerents was that it was still unlawful to purchase government-owned munitions. To evade this constraint the War Department sold guns and ammunition to the United States Steel Export Company, which served as an intermediary to the
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Without the Economic Assistance of the U.S., Great Britain would of Industrially Collapsed during World War II.
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