Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hayter, Earl W. (Earl Wiley), 1901-1994

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Social Sciences


World War; 1939-1945--Causes


Americana on the eve of every major war have characteristically engaged in a "great debate" over involvement in it but close ranks and present a united front once the decision to fight has been made. However, once the war is over, historians, political leaders, and others have been inclined to reopen the debate, reviewing the causes of war in the light of historical hindsight and revising judgements previously made concerning the issues, the necessity for war, war guilt, and the nature of the peace settlement. This "revisionism" seems to give rise to partisan differences which were largely submerged during the war and it reflects a deep divergence among citizens on the proper role of America in world affairs. The author in this study has focused on the entrance of the United States into World War II. How and why our decision was made to enter the conflict; was Franklin D. Roosevelt personally responsible for plunging us into an unnecessary war; and could the United States wisely have avoided war by pursuing a different policy? In attempting to answer these questions the author has employed three main sources: government documents, "orthodox" historians, led by Basil Rauch, Thomas Bailey, W. L. Langer, S. E. Gleason, and Herbert Feis; and "revisionist" books by Charles A. Beard, Harry Elmer Barnes, W. L. Chamberlin, F. C. Sanborn, and Charles Tansill. The first two chapters are devoted primarily to introductory material and they set the stage for the crisis period of 1940-1941. The next three are devoted to the events which immediately preceded the Japanese attack on our Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor and a concluding chapter is a summarization of the events which led to World War II. This work was motivated by no impulse to either defend or attack any of the many characters involved. The writer has done his utmost to let the facts speak for themselves. Obviously, any undertaking of this nature must reflect the author's own attitudes to some extent I am indebted to Dr. E, V. Hayter who assisted me in this project. Needless to say, all responsibility for mistakes or shortcomings in the work remain entirely my own.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 68-70)


70 pages




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