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The United States and the Second World WarNew Perspectives on Diplomacy, War, and the Home Front$
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G. Kurt Piehler and Sidney Pash

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231201

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823231201.001.0001

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Roosevelt at the Rubicon: The Great Convoy Debate of 1941

Roosevelt at the Rubicon: The Great Convoy Debate of 1941

(p.10) Chapter One Roosevelt at the Rubicon: The Great Convoy Debate of 1941
The United States and the Second World War

J. Garry Clifford

Robert H. Ferrell

Fordham University Press

This chapter goes back to the dark days of 1941 when the fates of England—and, by extension, of the United States—hung in the balance. Combining the personal insights on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's diplomacy, found in works such as Warren Kimball's The Juggler and in the compelling narrative on the approach of war best seen in Waldo Heinrichs' Threshold of War, the chapter focuses on the critical issue of the U.S. Navy's convoying of merchant ships across the Atlantic during 1941. It examines how lukewarm public opinion, Congressional opposition, incomplete rearmament, and the pressing needs of other theaters, led Roosevelt to dissemble and delay rather than address the convoy question. This study offers a particularly penetrating re-examination of Roosevelt's legacy of bipartisanship, his mishandling of isolationists in 1941, and his lack of candor toward Congress and the public.

Keywords:   Franklin D. Roosevelt, foreign relations, diplomacy, U.S. Navy, merchant ships

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