Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations

Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations

Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations

Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations

Excerpt

The two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century aroused Americans to earnest and passionate debate on the proper role for the United States in world affairs. During this heated controversy American "isolationists" battled furiously, almost desperately, to make their views prevail, and they won transient victories in the two decades between the wars. By mid-century, however, proponents of "Internationalism" and collective security had triumphed, and "isolationism" was beaten, discredited, and generally rejected.

Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota was one of the more colorful and controversial leaders of this "lost cause." In 1934-36 he led the Senate Committee Investigating the Munitions Industry that was both an expression of and a force for isolationism. He was a key figure in the enactment of the neutrality laws in the 1930's, helping in hundreds of speeches throughout the country to publicize and popularize noninterventionist views. He provided powerful leadership for opponents of the increasingly internationalist policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And Nye was a tireless spokesman in 1941 for the America First Committee in its fight against intervention in World War II.

Nye's career is particularly significant for an understanding of the role of agrarianism in the rise and fall of American isolationism. The central hypothesis of this study is that important roots of isolationism may be traced to needs, desires, and value systems of major segments of the American agricultural society. Agrarian radicalism of the Great . . .

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