Lesson 3: U.S. Neutrality and the War in Europe, 1939–1940
The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 posed a serious challenge to U.S. neutrality, since Americans' sympathies lay overwhelmingly with Great Britain and its allies. The task of remaining neutral became even more formidable in mid-1940, when it appeared as though Hitler's Germany might actually win the war. Public sentiment overwhelmingly favored staying out of the war, yet at the same time most Americans believed that a German victory would pose a threat to national security.
Through a study of contemporary documents, students learn about the difficult choices faced by the Roosevelt administration during the first fifteen months of World War II, culminating in the decision to provide direct military aid to Great Britain.
How did the American conception of "neutrality" change during the first fifteen months of World War II in Europe?
Was this change a positive or a negative development?
Evaluate Roosevelt's approach to neutrality and what this meant for the fighting in Europe.
Compare the policy of the United States regarding war in Europe in 1939 with U.S. policy in 1917.
Analyze the key events of 1939-1940 and their impact on U.S. policy toward the war in Europe.
Analyze the arguments forwarded regarding the Lend Lease Act and the evidence used to support the claims of those involved.