What led American people to move from an isolationist stance to one that favored involvement in international affairs during WWII?

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After the conclusion of World War I in 1918, the United States became isolationist for most of the following two decades. The US did not, for example, join the League of Nations. America was preoccupied with domestic matters during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. When World War II...

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After the conclusion of World War I in 1918, the United States became isolationist for most of the following two decades. The US did not, for example, join the League of Nations. America was preoccupied with domestic matters during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression. When World War II erupted in 1939, Washington tried to remain neutral. Although isolationism was strong, President Franklin Roosevelt and most Americans sympathized with the Allies. Roosevelt tried to help Britain a much as possible, short of actual war, especially after the fall of France in June 1940. If Britain were to fall, too, all of Europe would have been under Nazi domination. Therefore, FDR made America "the arsenal of democracy." Nevertheless, Charles Lindbergh and other isolationists were a powerful political force. And America remained neutral, in spite of the considerable aid it provided to Britain.

Events in Asia ultimately led to direct American participation in the war as a belligerent. Japan had been steadily expanding its influence in China and—after the fall of France—elsewhere in Asia. Washington responded with increasingly severe economic sanctions. Japan was being squeezed economically by the sanctions, so it decided it had to attack the United States. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Adolph Hitler, who was allied to Japan, then declared war on the United States. Japan's sneak attack ended American isolationism, and the American public was unified and determined to win World War II.

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