The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 27 The Global Crisis, 1921-1941


Chapter 27 Main Themes:


  1. The character of America's "unilateral internationalist" foreign policy in the 1920s, whereby the United States tried to increase its role in world affairs, especially economically, while avoiding commitments.


  1. The response of America to the growing world crises in the 1930s, particularly isolationism and legislated neutrality.


  1. The gradual road to American military involvement in WWII, leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.


A thorough study of Chapter 27 should enable the student to understand:

  • The new directions of American foreign policy -- and the attempts to replace the League of Nations as a guarantor of global stability -- in the 1920s


  • The effects of the Great Depression on foreign relations under both Hoover and Roosevelt.


  • The patterns of Japanese, Italian, and German aggression that eventually led to World War II, and the response to each by the Roosevelt government


  • The factors that led to the passage of neutrality legislation in the 1930s, and Roosevelt's application of the legislation to various foreign crises.


  • The growing pro-English sentiment in the United States after the onset of WWII, and its effect on American neutrality up until 1941.


  • The specific sequence of events that brought the United States into the war, culminating with the attack on Pearl Harbor.


  • The American role in the Sino-Japanese War that preceded and eventually became part of what is normally considered World War II




"Cash-And-Carry" Policy in which the United States would only sell armaments to nations that paid in cash and carried the bought munitions away in their own ships. In practice, cash-and-carry favored England in the European conflict, due to Englands naval control of the North Atlantic.

Blitzkrieg A quick, coordinated military attack utilizing armored ground vehicles and intensive air support. The word is German for "lightning war."

Destroyers-For-Bases Proposal by FDR and Churchill in which America gave England fifty WWI-era destroyers in exchange for the right to build American bases on British territory in the Caribbean.

Fascism A political system that glorifies the nation, minimizes individual rights, and operates through an autocratic central government that tightly controls all economics, political, and social behavior. In the 1930s and 1940s, the term applied to governments under Benito Mussolini in Italy, Adolf Hitler in Germany, and Francisco Franco in Spain.

Lend-Lease 1940 proposal by FDR which allowed the American government not only to sell but also to lend or lease armaments to any nation deemed "pivotal to the defense of the United States (meaning England.)