Arsenal of Democracy



from September 1st 1939 through the fall of 1941 FDR worked to loosen the grip of America's neutrality acts which barred us weapon sales to warring nations cautiously but deliberately he pursued a policy of aiding first Great Britain and then the Soviet Union in their war with Germany and Italy in the spring of 1940 German armies had swept across Denmark Norway the Netherlands and Belgium in June France collapsed suddenly Britain stood alone FDR responded by increasing military spending and supporting a peacetime draft he arranged the deal to give Britain 50 aged American destroyers in exchange for leases to British bases in the Atlantic in December 1940 having received sobering news from Winston Churchill that Britain was nearly bankrupt and can no longer pay for US weapons and supplies Roosevelt declared America he continued selling Britain arms despite warnings that America's own military was under equipped and put forth a proposal to lend or lease war materials to the British at every step FDR had to contend with deep-seated American fears of involvement in the war he also had to manage a growing crisis in the Pacific where Japan was expanding its empire into China and threatening Southeast Asia these twin crises put Roosevelt's intellectual and political skills to a stern test FDR sometimes stretched the limits of executive power to respond to this extraordinary situation critics charged he exceeded those limits

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