“President Roosevelt’s foreign policy is a sort of shooting
craps with destiny.”
—General Hugh Johnson in 1940, former NRA Director
The years of 1940 and 1941 were anything but tranquil in the United States. Interventionists charged FDR was not doing enough to help the western Allies, and isolationists insisted he was rushing America into Europe’s war.
Debates between interventionists and isolationists during the period is a complicated story and one involving important personages including not only FDR, his followers in Washington and in the U.S. Congress but others like Joseph Patrick Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles A. Lindbergh, quintessential American hero of the 1920s.
Kennedy had amassed his fortune by using a vanguard of allies drawn from barons in Boston, Wall Street, Hollywood, and other power centers. In the spring of 1930, believing that drastic changes would have to be made in the nation’s economic system, he had hitched his moneyed chariot to Franklin Roosevelt’s run for the governorship of New York. In November of that year, citizens in the Empire State amassed a landslide vote to push FDR into the chair at Albany, and Joseph Kennedy told his wife that the new governor was the man who would save the country. His early assessment was not wrong.
Kennedy liked to think of himself as one of the few men who could talk to FDR on equal terms. Actually, both men were of the same type