How did FDR's bold moves to help Great Britain in the fight against Hitler affect the sharp disagreement that these efforts caused at home?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Europe moved closer and closer to war in the 1930s, the U.S. clearly wanted to maintain its neutrality. The U.S. was embroiled in the Great Depression, and Americans widely felt that getting involved with another world war would only profit bankers and war profiteers. The U.S. Congress passed five neutrality acts in the years from 1935 to 1939 in an attempt to make sure that the U.S. did not become involved in the coming war.

After Hitler invaded Poland in September of 1939 and World War II began in Europe, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) clearly wanted to help France and England, and he did so in a way that countered criticism at home. First, he was able to amend the Neutrality Acts in 1939 so that combatants in the war could buy American weapons if they paid in cash (rather than through loans) and carried the weapons themselves. This provision was referred to as "cash and carry." In addition, he was able to institute a "Lend-Lease Act" in 1941 that allowed him to lend or lease goods and materials to countries to help protect the U.S. This program provided immediate relief to Great Britain, which was then getting battered by the German Air Force (or Luftwaffe) in the 1940 Battle of Britain. This aid supported the British Royal Air Force (RAF) as they repelled the Germans in the Battle of Britain. By providing aid without declaring war, FDR was able to provide aid to Great Britain while maneuvering around the isolationist lobby at home.  

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