Hamilton Fish And The Question Of Isolationism – Nov. 23, 1940 – Past Daily Reference Room
As the war in Europe was entering its second year, the calls for increased U.S. involvement, aside from it’s sending aid to Britain, were getting louder and more persistent. A movement to maintain our neutrality had been going on since the mid-1930s when the threat of a war was imminent, but hadn’t reached the crisis stage. Calls for our refusal to aid those fighting Fascism and Nazism were increasing in number, and many of those on Capitol Hill were some of the most vocal against an escalation of War.
One of those was Congressman Hamilton Fish, who was not only an outspoken critic of President Roosevelt and The New Deal, but was a vocal opponent of our escalating involvement in the European conflict. He was a staunch anti-communist, but was also actively campaigning against intervention, until the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941 forced us into war. Fish also introduced a number of measures in Congress aimed at helping the increasing number of Jews fleeing Germany.
Ironically, in 1930 it was Fish who introduced House Resolution 180 which called for the establishment of a Committee to investigate Communist activities in the U.S. – called The Fish Committee, it undertook extensive investigations of people and organizations suspected of being involved in activities considered Communist or subversive in nature. One of those organizations it investigated was The American Civil Liberties Union. It recommended the Justice Department more authority to investigate suspected groups and strengthen immigration and deportation laws from preventing more suspected Communists from entering the country. In 1933 however, Fish had sponsored the translation and publication in the U.S. of a book entitled Communism In Germany by Adolf Ehrt, which was purported to link Jews to Communist groups in Germany. Fish and members of his committee later disavowed the book.
In this 1940 broadcast address, Hamilton Fish makes his continuing case against our involvement in the European War – in 1940 there was still a strong case against it, but as time went on, news reports and German conquests were making our isolation less and less feasible.
Here is that broadcast, given by Congressman Hamilton Fish on November 23, 1940.