In the late 1930s, many Americans still carried memories of World War I and its horrors. They believed America should avoid fighting wars overseas. Congress agreed; from 1935 to 1939, they passed four different Neutrality Acts.
In his fireside radio chat on August 14, 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt told the nation, "We shun political commitments which might entangle us in foreign wars... If we face the choice of profits or peace, this nation will answer, this nation must answer, 'We choose peace.'" A 1939 Gallup poll revealed that 94 percent of Americans did not want the United States to enter the war in Europe.
But even as the U.S. distanced itself, there were hints that the war would impact Americans. Throughout the late Thirties, the Nazis made headlines with their aggressive acts inside and outside of Germany. By the time the Japanese attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor in 1941, precipitating America's declaration of war, German troops occupied most of Western Europe and threatened to invade Great Britain. The world had witnessed shocking Nazi actions including Kristallnacht and book burnings. The racist, expansionist Nazi ideology was plain to see.
Should the United States have entered the war against fascism sooner?