"Through all the centuries and down to the world conflict of 1914-18, wars were made by governments. Woodrow Wilson challenged that necessity. . . . It is but an extension of that challenge of Woodrow Wilson for us to propose in this newer generation that from now on war by governments shall be changed to peace by peoples." When President Roosevelt during his first term wrote this in his second book "On Our Way", the people generally knew that they had been fooled in the last war. Wilson, disillusioned at Versailles, in his St. Louis speech, almost his last, acknowledged that it had been an economic war for plunder. Two years before, Eugene Debs, for the same statement had been sent to prison.
This Wilsonian attitude was so popular at the time that Roosevelt naturally espoused it. The political vote getter must "take care of the appeals to patriotism and peace. . . . In 1936 the President pledged to keep America at peace by keeping America neutral. In 1937 he proposed to keep the world at peace by means of quarantine. In 1939 he decided that two billion dollars' worth of armaments offered the United States its only protection against aggression. . . . At the beginning of 1939 he believed just as firmly in peace by rearmament as he did in peace by neutrality at the end of 1936 or in peace by quarantine at the end of 1937. At all times war was the last thing he wanted. But the course of events coupled with the policies that he had pursued, made it necessary for him to accompany his pleas with stronger and stronger appeals to patriotism and bigger and bigger armament bills." ( Quincy Howe, "Blood is Cheaper Than Water", Simon and Schuster, 1939) (cf p 490)
The President was driven successively and successfully to oppose the Ludlow referendum for a vote on war, to turn aside the Legion's insistence that capital be drafted if men were, to check the Nye investigation of how the war came about, and to stifle the popular demand that munitions manufacture be nationalized (cf pp 157-8, 376-7). Instead he suggested that we 'take the profits out of war', and then all bills to that end, it was seen to, were pigeon-holed.
The first Neutrality Resolution in 1935, Beard reminds us in "Midpassage", "was in large part an outcome of the munitions investigation