U.S. Reaction to the Two World Wars

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Essay #3: Compare and contrast U.S. reaction to war in Europe in 1914 with its reaction in 1939.

U.S. Reaction to the Two World Wars

        The First World War was a war that would forever change the history of the world, a war that officially began in 1914. The Second World War, with the formal commencing date in 1939, had the same drastic effect on the world. In both wars, the Allies probably would have lost the war had it not been for the eventual aid of the United States, as reluctantly as it may have been given. In both cases, the United States had the same general reaction to the brewing, and often raging, war in Europe, although some slight differences did exist.

        Public opinion in regard to the each of the World Wars was similar as far as the United States’ initial reactions in the beginning of the wars.  In 1914, the American public was shocked when Europe erupted in war. Stunned, the United States decide to hold with their tradition of “not allying the nation with any European power or becoming involved in a war on the other side of the Atlantic” (AP Prep Book 447). Nevertheless, despite attempting to remain neutral in both actions and thoughts, the American citizens unintentionally favored Great Britain. The newspapers were partially to blame for the one-sided view of the “ruthless” Germans, and the sinking of the Lusitania only helped to reinforce the American public’s bias standpoint. In consequence, the majority of the native born Americans desired for Great Britain and France to win the war. The public reacted similarly in 1939 when the Second World War broke out. At first, the public was taken aback after hearing of how the Nazi’s were conquering land all over Europe with hardly any opposition. Regardless of their strong opposition towards Hitler and his plans for the Third Reich, however, they wanted to stay out of the war. Eventually, American citizens acknowledged and approved the need to strengthen the United States’ defenses. Nevertheless, opinions on whether or not to provide direct support for Great Britain varied greatly. By the time the Lend-Lease Act was proposed, public opinion had shifted enough to allow the United States to aid Britain “put out a fire” (AP Prep Book 527).

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        In relation to the wars running rampant in Europe, the United States’ policies are comparable in the years 1914 and 1939. When the First World War broke out in 1914, President Wilson issued a declaration of neutrality, following the traditional policy of remaining neutral and uninvolved in European wars, urging the American citizens to not take sides. Yet, Wilson soon realized how difficult it was to protect the United States’ trading rights without showing partiality to any of the battling countries. Great Britain’s policies made it especially challenging for the United States to be detached and objective since her navy ...

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