Connect: title image
Don't be an isolationist. title image


Adlai Stevenson argued that the United States could not "go it alone" in the world.

Isolationists opposed U.S. involvement in world affairs. Internationalists, on the other hand, thought the U.S. should remain active in international matters.

Throughout his career, Stevenson opposed those who wanted to close off America's involvement the world. The clash between isolationists and internationalists was never more apparent than during the time before America's entry into World War II. After the war's end, technology (such as jet airplanes, satellites, and nuclear weapons) made actual isolation impossible.

  from the ARCHIVE title image

Debate against Clay Judson

Excerpt: "I do not think there are any limits to Hitler's ambition short of world conquest, just as there were no limits to the ambitions of Napoleon, Caesar, and Alexander. I do not think a world that has obliterated time and space can exist half slave and half free. I do not think that tyranny in four-fifths of the world and freedom in one-fifth can endure...."
(October 14, 1940)

Background: In 1940, most Americans felt an emotional connection to the English people and their struggle against Nazi tyranny. Even so, many Americans didn't want to become involved in another worldwide conflict. World War I had ended in 1918, just 22 years earlier. The leading influential voice for isolationism was the America First Committee (AFC). This group believed that foreign entanglements would only weaken the United States. Opposing the isolationists were the members of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA). This group believed it was the moral obligation of the U.S. to support Great Britain. Stevenson served as the head of the CDAAA chapter in Chicago.

On October 14, 1940, Stevenson debated Clay Judson, a well-known Chicago lawyer who was a prominent spokesperson for the America First Committee. "I think this is the most critical moment in our history," Stevenson said. "I think we are witnessing a death-struggle for control of the western world."

Full Text and Historical Background button
Discussion Questions button
lower frame image

Text Size: Small | Medium | Large | XLarge