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“An Independent Destiny for America”: Charles A. Lindbergh on Isolationism

The interwar peace movement was arguably the largest mass movement of the 1920s and 1930s, a mobilization often overlooked in the wake of the broad popular consensus that ultimately supported the U.S. involvement in World War II. The destruction wrought in World War I (known in the 1920s and 1930s as the “Great War”) and the cynical nationalist politics of the Versailles Treaty had left Americans disillusioned with the Wilsonian crusade to save the world for democracy. Senate investigations of war profiteering and shady dealings in the World War I munitions industry both expressed and deepened widespread skepticism about wars of ideals. On the right wing of the antiwar movement, Charles A. Lindbergh, popular hero of American aviation, was a champion of diehard isolationism and a prominent member of the America-First Committee, organized in September 1940. In this 1941 speech, he drew on a time-honored theme of American exceptionalism as he urged his listeners to avoid entanglements with Europe.

Listen to Audio:

Charles Lindbergh: We are assembled here tonight because we believe in an independent destiny for America. Such a destiny does not mean that we will build a wall around our country and isolate ourselves from contact with the rest of the world. But it does mean that the future of America will not be tied to these eternal wars in Europe. It means that American boys will not be sent across the ocean to die so that England or Germany or France or Spain may dominate the other nations.

An independent American destiny means, on the one hand, that our soldiers will not have to fight everybody in the world who prefers some other system of life to ours. On the other hand, it means that we will fight anybody and everybody who attempts to interfere with our hemisphere.

Source: Courtesy of the Michigan State University, G. Robert Vincent Voice Library.

See Also:Against Isolationism: James F. Byrnes Refutes Lindbergh
Didactic Dramas: Antiwar Plays of the 1930s