AP US History Document Based Question
Directions: The following question requires you to construct an essay that integrates your interpretation of Documents A-T and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. In the essay you should strive to support your assertions both by citing key pieces of evidence from the documents and by drawing on your knowledge of the period.
The United States was neither isolated or neutral during the period 1920-41. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
“Beginning with the foundation of our constitutional Government in the year 1789, the American policy in respect to belligerent nations, with one notable exception, has been based on international law. . . . The single exception was the policy adopted by this nation during the Napoleonic Wars, when, seeking to avoid involvement, we acted for some years under the so-called Embargo and Non-Intercourse Acts. That policy turned out to be a disastrous failure, first, because it brought our own nation close to ruin, and, second, because it was the major cause of bringing us into active participation in European wars in our own War of 1812. . . . One of the results of the policy of embargo and non-intercourse was the burning in 1814 of part of this Capitol in which we are assembled.
Our next deviation by statute from the sound principles of neutrality, and peace through international law, did not come for 130 years. It was the so-called Neutrality Act of 1935, only 4 years ago, an Act continued by the Joint Resolution of May 1, 1937, despite grave doubts expressed as to its wisdom by many. . . . I regret that the Congress passed that Act. I regret equally that I signed that Act.” Roosevelt Pleads for Repeal of Neutrality Act (1939) Congressional Record, 76th Cong., 2d sess. (September 21, 1939), pp. 10-11.
“And while I am talking to you fathers and mothers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. They are going into training to form a force so strong that, by its very existence, it will keep the threat of war far away from our shores. Yes, the purpose of our defense is defense.” [In previous speeches Roosevelt had ordinarily followed the no-war pledge with the words "except in case of attack." To blunt the force of Willkie's accusation, he now left out the qualification. When asked why he was going to do so, he replied somewhat lamely, "It's not necessary. If we're attacked, it's no longer a foreign war."] FDR Pledges No Foreign War (1940). New York Times, October 31, 1940 (speech of October 30, 1940).
“Mr. President. . . . In the midst of foreign war and the alarms of other wars, we are asked to depart basically from the neutrality which the American Congress has twice told the world, since 1935, would be our rule of conduct in such an event. We are particularly asked to depart from it through the repeal of existing neutrality law establishing an embargo on arms, ammunition, and implements of war. . . .In my opinion, this is the road that may lead us to war, and I will not voluntarily take it. . . .
The proponents of the change vehemently insist that their steadfast purpose, like ours, is to keep There is no such hazard, at least to our own America, in preserving neutrality in the existing law precisely as we almost unanimously notified the world was our intention as recently as 1935 and 1937. There is no such jeopardy, at least to our own America, in maintaining the arms embargo as it is.”[Despite such pleas, the arms embargo was repealed early in November 1939. The vote was 55 to 24 in the Senate, 243 to 172 in the House.] Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan defends the Neutrality Act Congressional Record, 76th Cong., 2d sess. (October 4, 1939), p. 95.
“And thereupon, as to such portion of them as the military events of the future determine to be right and proper for us to allow to go to the other side, either lease or sell the materials, subject to mortgage, to the people on the other side. . . . it may still prove true that the best defense of Great Britain is the best defense of the United States. Now, what I am trying to do is to eliminate the dollar sign. . . . get rid of the silly, foolish old dollar sign. Well, let me give you an illustration: Suppose my neighbor's home catches fire, and I have a length of garden hose four or five hundred feet away. If he can take my garden hose and connect it up with his hydrant, I may help him to put out his fire. Now, what do I do? I don't say to him before that operation, "Neighbor, my garden hose cost me $15; you have got to pay me $15 for it." What is the transaction that goes on? I don't want $15--I want my garden hose back after the fire is over. All right. If it goes through the fire all right, intact, without any damage to it, he gives it back to me and thanks me very much for the use of it. But suppose it gets smashed up--holes in it--during the fire; we don't have to have too much formality about it, but I say to him, "I was glad to lend you that hose; I see I can't use it any more, it's all smashed up." He says, "How many feet of it were there?" I tell him, "There were 150 feet of it." He says, "All right, I will replace it." Now, if I get a nice garden hose back, I am in pretty good shape.
In other words, if you lend certain munitions and get the munitions back at the end of the war, if they are intact--haven't been hurt--you are all right. If they have been damaged or have deteriorated or have been lost completely, it seems to me you come out pretty well if you have them replaced by the fellow to whom you have lent them.” FDR Drops the Dollar Sign (1940) The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 Volume (1941), pp. 606-608.
D ocument E
New York Times, 1939
“The lend-lease policy, translated into legislative form, stunned a Congress and a nation wholly sympathetic to the cause of Great Britain. . . . It warranted my worst fears for the future of America, and it definitely stamps the President as war-minded. The lend-lease-give program is the New Deal's Triple-A foreign policy; it will plow under every fourth American boy. . . .
Approval of this legislation means war, open and complete warfare. I, therefore, ask the American people before they supinely accept it, was the last World War worth while? If it were, then we should lend and lease war materials. If it were, then we should lend and lease American boys. President Roosevelt has said we would be repaid by England. We will be. We will be repaid, just as England repaid her war debts of the first World War, repaid those dollars wrung from the sweat of labor and the toil of farmers with cries of "Uncle Shylock." Our boys will be returned--returned in caskets, maybe; returned with bodies maimed; returned with minds warped and twisted by sights of horrors and the scream and shriek of high-powered shells. Considered on its merits and stripped of its emotional appeal to our sympathies, the. . . . bill is both ruinous and ridiculous. . . .” Senator Burton Wheeler on Lend-Lease (1941) Reprinted in Congressional Record, 77th Cong., 1st sess. (speech of January 12, 1941), Appendix, pp. 178-179.
On September 4, 1941, the U.S. destroyer Greer in Icelandic waters trailed a German submarine for three and one-half hours while radioing its position to nearby British aircraft. The sub attacked the Greer.
“The Navy Department of the United States has reported to me that, on the morning of September fourth, the United States destroyer Greer, proceeding in full daylight toward Iceland, . . . . carrying American mail [and] flying the American flag. Her identity as an American ship was unmistakable. She was then and there attacked by a submarine. . . . I tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired first upon this American destroyer without warning, and with deliberate design to sink her.
Our destroyer, at the time, was in waters which the Government of the United States has declared to be waters of self-defense, surrounding outposts of American protection in the Atlantic. In the north, outposts have been established by us in Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland. Through these waters there pass many ships of many flags. They bear food and other supplies to civilians; and they bear [lend-lease] matériel of war, for which the people of the United States are spending billions of dollars, and which, by Congressional action, they have declared to be essential for the defense of our own land.
. . . . The aggression is not ours. Ours is solely defense. But let this warning be clear. From now on, if German or Italian vessels of war enter the waters, the protection of which is necessary for American defense, they do so at their own peril.” FDR Proclaims Shoot-at-Sight (1941) Department of State Bulletin 5 (September 13, 1941): 193, 195, 197.
“There were three methods to meet the danger from Japan. One was by a preventive attack. But democracies do not engage in preventive attacks except with greatest difficulty. Had I suggested to the President that he go to Congress and ask for a declaration of war against Japan at some time after the invasion of southern Indo-China, he could have made a good case concerning the dangers to us inherent in Japan's course of aggression. But, remembering the fact that on August 13, 1941, only three weeks after Japan invaded southern Indo-China, the House of Representatives sustained the Selective Service Act by a majority of just one vote, it seems most unlikely that the President could have obtained a declaration. Nor would the military and naval authorities have been ready for a preventive attack. . . . A preventive attack, moreover, would have run counter to our determination to pursue the course of peace to the end. . . .
The second method to meet the danger was to agree to Japan's demands. This would have given us peace, that is, until Japan, after strengthening herself through the concessions we should have made, was ready to move again. But it would have denied all the principles of right living among nations which we had supported; it would have betrayed the countries [China, Britain] that later became our allies; and it would have given us an infamous place in history. . . . . . . Japan negotiated as if we, too, were an aggressor. . . . Japan had no more right to make demands upon us than an individual gangster has to make demands upon his intended victim.
The third method was simply to continue discussions with Japan, to convince her that her aggressions cost her more than they were worth, to point out to her that her partnership with Hitler could be as dangerous to her as it was to the rest of the world, to lay before her proposal after proposal which in the long run would have given her in peace the prosperity her military leaders were seeking in conquest. It was this third that we chose. Of the three, it was the only American method.” Cordell Hull Justifies His Stand (1948). Secretary of State Hull, the soft-spoken Tennessean, here outlines three possible alternatives in his Memoirs. Reprinted with the permission of Macmillan Publishing Company from Memoirs, vol. II, by Cordell Hull, pp. 1104-1105, 1570-1571. Copyright 1948 by Cordell Hull, renewed 1976.
“With the recent [Japanese] military operations about Chinchow, the last remaining administrative authority of the Government of the Chinese Republic in South Manchuria, as it existed prior to September 18th, 1931, has been destroyed. The American Government continues confident that the work of the neutral commission recently authorized by the Council of the League of Nations will facilitate an ultimate solution of the difficulties now existing between China and Japan. But in view of the present situation and of its own rights and obligations therein, the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation defacto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those Governments, or agents thereof which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open door policy; and that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which Treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.” The Stimson Doctrine, 1932.
“. . . . The world is being jeopardized by the remaining ten percent who are threatening a breakdown of all international order and law. Surely the ninety percent who want to live in peace under law and in accordance with moral standards that have received almost universal acceptance through the centuries, can and must find some way to make their will prevail.
The situation is definitely of universal concern. The questions involved relate not merely to violations of specific provisions of particular treaties; they are questions of war and of peace, of international law and especially of principles of humanity. It is true that they involve definite violations of agreements, and especially of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Briand-Kellogg Pact and the Nine Power Treaty. But they also involve problems of world economy, world security and world humanity. . . . It seems to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading.
When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Quarantine" Speech, 1937.
SECTION I. (a) Whenever the President shall find that there exists a state of war between, or among, two or more foreign states, the President shall proclaim such fact, and it shall thereafter be unlawful to export, or attempt to export, or cause to be exported, arms, ammunition, or implements of war. . . . to any belligerent state named in such proclamation, or to any neutral state for transshipment to, or for the use of such belligerent state .
(c) Whenever the President shall find that a state of civil strife exists in a foreign state and that such civil strife is of a magnitude that the export of arms. . . . to such foreign state would threaten or endanger the peace of the United States, the President shall proclaim such fact, and it shall thereafter be unlawful to export . . arms, ammunition, or implements of war . . to such foreign state .
SEC. 6. (a) . . . . it shall thereafter be unlawful . . . . for any American vessel to carry any arms, ammunition, or implements of war to any belligerent state, or to any state wherein civil strife exists . .
SEC. 9. Whenever the President shall have issued a proclamation . . . . it shall thereafter be unlawful for any citizen of the United States to travel on any vessel of the state or states named . The Neutrality Act of 1937 establishes an arms embargo U.S. Statutes at Large, I (5937), 522.
The Neutrality Act of 1939 (the "Cash and-Carry" Act) modifies the terms of the 1937 law.
SECTION 1. (a) That whenever the President, or the Congress by concurrent resolution, shall find that there exists a state of war between foreign states, and that it is necessary to promote the security or preserve the peace of the United States . . . . the President shall issue a proclamation naming the state involved.
SEC. 2. (a) . . . . it shall thereafter be unlawful for any American vessel to carry any passengers or any articles or materials to any state named in such proclamation (c) . . . . it shall thereafter be unlawful to export or transport . . . . from the United States to any state named in such proclamation, any article or materials . . . . until all right, title, and interest therein shall have been transferred to some foreign government, agency, or] institution
SEC. 3. (a) Whenever the President shall by proclamation, define combat areas, thereafter it shall be unlawful . . . . for any citizen of the United States or any American vessels to proceed into or through any such combat area. Public Resolution No.54, 76th Congress, 2nd Session (November 4, 1939).
“Overwhelmingly we, as a nation, and this applies to all the other American nations, we are convinced that military and naval victory for the gods of force and hate would endanger the institutions of democracy in the Western World - and that equally, therefore, the whole of our sympathies lie with those nations that are giving their life blood in combat against those forces.
On this 10th day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of its neighbor. In our unity . . . . we will pursue two obvious and simultaneous courses; we will extend to the opponents of force the material resources of this nation and, at the same time, we will harness and speed up the use of those resources in order that we ourselves. . . . may have equipment and training equal to the task of any emergency and every defense.” Roosevelt reacts to the Italian invasion of France, June 10, 1940. Speech at Charlottesville, Va., June 10, 1940. New York Times, June 11, 1940, 6.
“This government acquired the right to lease naval and air bases in Newfoundland, and in the islands of Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Antigua . The right to bases in Newfoundland and Bermuda are gifts - generously given and gladly received. The other bases mentioned have been acquired in exchange for fifty of our over-age destroyers. This is not inconsistent in any sense with our status of peace. Still less is it a threat against any nation . .
Preparation for defense is an inalienable prerogative of a sovereign State. Under present circumstances, this exercise of sovereign right is essential to the maintenance of our peace and safety. . . .” Roosevelt describes the destroyers for bases deal, 1940 New York Times, September 4, 1940, 10.
The Japanese Position, Presented on December 7, 1941
“Ever since the China Affair broke out owing to the failure on the part of China to comprehend Japan's true intentions, the Japanese Government has striven for the restoration of peace and it has consistently exerted its best efforts to prevent the extension of war-like disturbances. It was also to that end that in September last year Japan concluded the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy.
However, both the United States and Great Britain have resorted to every possible measure to assist the Chungking regime so as to obstruct the establishment of a general peace between Japan and China, interfering with Japan's constructive endeavors toward the stabilization of East Asia. Exerting pressure on the Netherlands East Indies, or menacing French Indo-China, they have attempted to frustrate Japan's aspiration to the ideal of common prosperity in cooperation with these regions. Furthermore, when Japan in accordance with its protocol with France took measures of joint defense of French Indo-China, both American and British Governments willfully misinterpreting it as a threat to their own possessions, and inducing the Netherlands Government to follow suit, they enforced the assets freezing order, thus severing economic relations with Japan. While manifesting thus an obviously hostile attitude, these countries have strengthened their military preparations perfecting an encirclement of Japan, and have brought about a situation which endangers the very existence of the Empire..
From the beginning of the present negotiation the Japanese Government has always maintained an attitude of fairness and moderation, and did its best to reach a settlement, for which it made all possible concessions often in spite of great difficulties. As for the China question which constituted an important subject of the negotiation, the Japanese Government showed a most conciliatory attitude. As for the principle of non-discrimination in international commerce, advocated by the American Government, the Japanese Government expressed its desire to see the said principle applied throughout the world, and declared that along with the actual practice of this principle in the world, the Japanese Government would endeavor to apply the same in the Pacific Area including China, and made it clear that Japan had no intention of excluding from China economic activities of third powers pursued on an equitable basis. Furthermore. as regards the question of withdrawing troops from French Indo-China, the Japanese Government even volunteered, as mentioned above, to carry out an immediate evacuation of troops from Southern French lndo-China as a measure of easing the situation.
It is presumed that the spirit of conciliation exhibited to the utmost degree by the Japanese Government in all these matters is fully appreciated by the American Government. On the other hand, the American Government, always holding fast to theories in disregard of realities, and refusing to yield an inch on its impractical principles, caused undue delay in the negotiation. It is difficult to understand this attitude of the American Government and the Japanese Government desires to call the attention of the American Government especially to the following points:
1. The American Government advocates in the name of world peace those principles favorable to it and urges upon the Japanese Government the acceptance thereof. The peace of the world may be brought about only by discovering a mutually acceptable formula through recognition of the reality of the situation and mutual appreciation of one another's position. An attitude such as ignores realities and imposes one's selfish views upon others will scarcely serve the purpose of facilitating the consummation of negotiations.
Of the various principles put forward by the American Government as a basis of the Japanese-American Agreement, there are some which the Japanese Government is ready to accept in principle, but in view of the world's actual conditions, it seems only a utopian ideal on the part of the American Government to attempt to force their immediate adoption.
Again, the proposal to conclude a multilateral non-aggression pact between Japan, United States, Great Britain, China, the Soviet Union, the Netherlands and Thailand, which is patterned after the old concept of collective security, is far removed from the realities of East Asia.
2. The American proposal contained a stipulation which states-"Both Governments will agree that no agreement, which either has concluded with any third power or powers, shall be interpreted by it in such a way as to conflict with the fundamental purpose of this agreement, the establishment and preservation of peace throughout the Pacific area." It is presumed that the above provision has been proposed with a view to restrain Japan from fulfilling its obligations under the Tripartite Pact when the United States participates in the War in Europe, and, as such, it cannot be accepted by the Japanese Government.
The American Government, obsessed with its own views and opinions may be said to be scheming for the extension of the war. While it seeks, on the one hand, to secure its rear by stabilizing the Pacific Area, it is engaged, on the other hand, in aiding Great Britain and preparing to attack, in the name of self-defense, Germany and Italy, two Powers that are striving to establish a new order in Europe. Such a policy is totally at variance with the many principles upon which the American Government proposes to found the stability of the Pacific Area through peaceful means.
3. Whereas the American Government, under the principles it rigidly upholds, objects to settle international issues through military pressure, it is exercising in conjunction with Great Britain and other nations pressure by economic power. Recourse to such pressure as a means of dealing with international relations should be condemned as it is at times more inhumane than military pressure.
4. It is impossible not to reach the conclusion that the American Government desires to maintain and strengthen, in coalition with Great Britain and other Powers, its dominant position it has hitherto occupied not only in China but in other areas of East Asia. It is a fact of history that the countries of East Asia for the past hundred years or more have been compelled to observe the status quo under the Anglo-American policy of imperialistic exploitation and to sacrifice themselves to the prosperity of the two nations. The Japanese Government cannot tolerate the perpetuation of such a situation since it directly runs counter to Japan's fundamental policy to enable all nations to enjoy each its proper place in the world.
The stipulation proposed by the American Government relative to French Indo-China is a good exemplification of the above-mentioned American policy. Thus six countries,-Japan, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, China and Thailand, excepting France, should undertake among themselves to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of French Indo-China and equality of treatment in trade and commerce would be tantamount to placing the territory under the joint guarantee of the Governments of those six countries. Apart from the fact that such a proposal totally ignores the position of France, it is unacceptable to the Japanese Government.” Japanese Note delivered to Cordell Hull, December 7, 1941. Cordell Hull, Memoirs, vol. II, by Cordell Hull, pp. 1104-1105, 1570-1571. Copyright 1948 by Cordell Hull, renewed 1976.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941-a date which will live in infamy-the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that Nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace. Roosevelt's War Message, 1941