World War II and America
The Isolationism Dilemma
Before writing, authors must first
understand what purpose or purposes they
hope to achieve with regard to their readers.
Typically, writers write for one of three
What purpose do you think these
writers had in mind?
What about this author?
Theodore Geisel, or Dr.
Seuss, wrote both of
His children’s books were
not the only place he
tried to inform and
persuade his audience.
This man vehemently op-
posed isolationist atti-
tudes in America with
respect to World War II.
He published a great deal
of artwork in PM, a New
York newspaper, de-
signed to convince the
people of the United
States to abandon
In August of 1935, President
Franklin Roosevelt signed
what would be the first in a
series of Neutrality Acts.
These Congressional Acts
were attempts to stop the
United States from becoming
involved in foreign affairs in
order that we might focus
our attentions on domestic
This idea was referred
to as isolationism or
This man was a very
He started a group called
“America First” whose
mission was to convince
the United States
government to stay OUT
of World War II in the
interest of protectionism.
Lindbergh used his fame as a pilot and national
hero to gain audience for his isolationist ideas.
It is November 1941. You are an American living at
a time when the vestiges of the Neutrality Acts are
still selectively enforced by the government. Your
friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers are all
discussing the state of the world and America’s
place in it.
Should the United States maintain an isolationist foreign
policy per the Neutrality Acts,
or should we scrap it and go to war?
Paragraph 1 – Introduce yourself.
What is your name?
Who is your family?
What do you do for a living?
Where in the United States do you live?
What is your life like there?
Body Paragraphs – Introduce the facts. You
must be able to support EVERYTHING that
you include in the body with a documented
Build your position by answering the
following questions based on your
knowledge from this course and the primary
The Dilemma – the Questions
1. What is happening in Europe and Asia at this
point in history?
2. How is America reacting?
3. What positions do people in the public eye take
on the issue (President Roosevelt, Lindbergh,
4. How do they support their positions?
Concluding Paragraph – Add it all up.
• After thinking about the different options,
what do you think America should do?
• Why do you think so?
• What do you think will happen in America
and in the world if our nation follows your
“America First” distributed literature that explained the
groups point of view. The following is a brochure that was
distributed by the group.
1. Our first duty is to keep
America out of foreign wars.
Our entry would only destroy
3. In 1917 we sent our
democracy, not save it.
American war is a false
“The path to ships into the war
5. zone and this aid is to war.
path to freedom.led us the duty
of a strong, free keep our
In 1941 we must country at
4.by acts of build a merchant
We convoys abroad
2. Notnaval must war anddefense, for
peace. With proper
by preserving the so strong
safeguard for and of the
but vessels onshores, distribution
our own this side
that democracy at
extendingno foreignshould feed
of supplies, we power or
home can we aid democracycan
and clothe theof powers and
invade in country,
and needy people of the by sea,
air or land.
Dr. Seuss published more than 400 editorial cartoons for
PM between 1940 and 1948. The following examples
specifically address isolationist policy and philosophy.
The New York Times followed Lindbergh’s speaking
engagements quite closely. The following are excerpts from
Times articles reporting on Lindbergh’s public statements.
Excerpt from the New York Times, September 16, 1939, covering a
September 15 radio broadcast.
The editorial board of the New York Times published this
commentary on May 20, 1940.
On May 22, 1940, the New York Times published letters to the editor by readers who
weighed in on the May 20 editorial from differing perspectives. A sample of those
letters appears below:
Article from the New York Times, October 31, 1941, covering a
rally of “America First” at Madison Square Garden.
Excerpt from the New York Times, October 31, 1941 (continued).
• The Dr. Seuss Collection in the Mandeville Special Collections Library at the University of California, San
• Portrait of Dr. Seuss by Everett Raymond Kinstler (1982)
• Charles Lindbergh – American Aviator
• Academy of Achievement
• Kansas State University
• ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2003)