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United States adopt an isolationist policy in the 1920’s and 1930’s

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By the end of World War I, the United States grew increasingly isolationistic in its policies. Even though the United States emerged from the war as one of the victors, the American people were greatly dispirited by the devastation. Many hoped to return to the peaceful decade before the war. Isolationism, according to the people at that time, seemed to be the only way to avoid foreign entanglements that would lead to another war.

With the American mind set on isolationism, the government enacted laws to restrict foreigners from entering the country. The first of these laws was the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which limited immigration for foreigners to 3% of each nationality living in the United States in 1910. Three years later, this quota was reduced to 2%, and the national origins base was shifted to favor Northern Europeans. Even more extreme, the Japanese, Canadians, and Latin Americans were flatly denied admission. Apparently, immigration was reduced to a mere trickle because Americans wanted as little foreign influence as possible.

To carry out its policy of isolationism, the United States detached itself from international “entanglements”. They refused to join the League of Nations, and even struck down the Treaty of Versailles. By hiking up the tariffs, the U.S. also kept European products from entering the American market. Unfortunately, this crippled farmers and manufacturers economically. The lack of outlets for the growing quantity of American products to flow into paved the way towards depression.

The United States seemed determined to keep peace at any cost. Because the Nye Committee placed the blame of World War I on money making munitions such as arms manufacturers and bankers, Washington passed a series of Neutrality Acts forbidding the sale of arms and loans to countries involved in war. However, this played in the favor of the aggressors because under those acts, the U.S. could not aid victimized countries. Thus, the U.S. just stood by while Mussolini invaded Ethiopia and Hitler occupied Poland.

Essentially, isolationism in the United States was heavily adopted in the 1920’s and 1930’s because of the fear of foreign influence, “peace-at-any-price-ism”, and the desire to return to pre-war prosperity. Ironically however, the whole purpose of these isolationist policies were defeated because it contributed to the Great Depression and World War II. The lack of international trade stalled the economy and the U.S.’s isolationist policies only allowed aggressors to start another world war. If the U.S. had intervened earlier, the devastation of World War II could have been avoided. Sadly enough, the U.S. did not realize this until it was too late.

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