"THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"
To American isolationists the early autumn of 1939 was a time of panic and pessimism. Gloom pervaded the offices of the peace societies. Their leaders formally announced that Armageddon had come, entreated Mr. Roosevelt to mediate, and felt able to do very little more. So plain was the evidence of the nation's pro-Ally feelings, so high were emotional tempers, so quick the pace of events that, for the first time in two decades, professional advocates of peace were mute. They listened, and everything they heard was ominous. The currents of American thinking were running surely and purposefully; so the polls showed, so the hubbub confirmed. In a Western town Hitler was burned in effigy, somewhere else the offices of the Amerikadeutscher Volksbund were demolished. Who could cry peace? War was in the air.
Then, as after an earlier invasion from Mars, the tumult died down.
People turned off the radio, ceased clustering in little groups. They went back to work. After the nightmare, the peace societies woke up to the discovery that isolationism was not dead. But its ranks were grotesquely divided, and it was difficult to visualize any real degree of harmony among the voices beseeching America to stay out of the war. The National Association of Manufacturers initiated an extensive peace campaign; so did the Communist party. The Reverend Charles Edward Coughlin expatiated on the sins of the British Empire, scorning its altruistic pretensions; so did ex-Reverend Norman Thomas. Veteran pacifists saw only blood and double-dealing in Europe; so did General Hugh S. John