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Shine, Republic

“It is by building our own strength and character at home—not by crusading abroad—that we can contribute most to civilization throughout the world.”

—Col. Charles Lindbergh

The America First Committee of 1940-41 was the largest antiwar organization (800,000 members) in American history.  Although it was founded by a group of Yale law students in the summer of 1940 and never lost its patrician character, it was headquartered in Chicago and found its greatest support among Midwesterners.  It was also strong in the Mountain states but weakest in the bellicose, Roosevelt-worshiping South.  (Of 54 congressmen and senators who spoke under AFC auspices, 33 were from the Midwest; 12, from the West; 8, from the Northeast; and only 1 from the South.)  Although anti-New Deal Republicans predominated, the committee included many Democrats, progressives, populists, and socialists.  What united them was their desire to frustrate the Roosevelt administration’s efforts to join the war in Europe as a full belligerent on the side of, first, the British Empire and, then, communist Russia.  Their heroic efforts remind us that there was a time when ordinary Americans believed, still with some reason, that they had the right to decide whether their country should remain at peace or go to war; still more of...

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