Trump's 'America First' has ugly echoes from U.S. history

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tags: election 2016, Trump



Susan Dunn is a professor of Humanities at Williams College and the author of "1940: FDR, Willkie, Lindbergh, Hitler -- The Election Amid the Storm," from which several passages in this essay are adapted. 

Related Link Trump’s Foreign Policy is just GOP Boilerplate, only more Confused By Juan Cole 

"My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration." 

It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech Wednesday outlining his foreign policy goals,Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan "America First," the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.

The America First Committee actually began at Yale University, where Douglas Stuart Jr., the son of a vice president of Quaker Oats, began organizing his fellow students in spring 1940. He and Gerald Ford, the future American president, and Potter Stewart, the future Supreme Court justice, drafted a petition stating, "We demand that Congress refrain from war, even if England is on the verge of defeat." 

Their solution to the international crisis lay in a negotiated peace with Hitler. Other Yale students -- including Sargent Shriver, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and Kingman Brewster, the chairman of the Yale Daily News, future president of Yale and ambassador to the Court of St. James -- joined their isolationist crusade.

Robert Wood, the board chairman of Sears, Roebuck, agreed to act as their group's temporary chair. The growing organization soon included powerful men like Col. Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune; Minnesota meatpacker Jay Hormel; Sterling Morton, the president of Morton Salt Company; U.S. Rep. Bruce Barton of New York; and Lessing Rosenwald, the former chairman of Sears. ...




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