One of the growing myths about American history is that white Southerners in the late 1930s were in sympathy with Hitler, when that’s the opposite of the truth.
A few years ago, I read an article about the regional patterns in Congressional support in 1939-1940 for FDR’s hard line against Germany. In my memory the author was Nicholas Lemann, former dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, although I haven’t been able to track anything down by Lemann so I may well have it wrong.
The author’s point was that FDR’s strongest regional base of support in the Senate for supporting Britain against the Nazis before Pearl Harbor came from Senators in the Jim Crow states.
The South tended to be nativist with few immigrants, nationalistic, militarist, and its leaders looked forward to the construction of military bases in the South, where the weather is good enough in winter for training and the land was cheap, to boost the South’s economy.
In contrast, the most isolationist part of the country was the more progressive north central region like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where there were more immigrants (especially from Germany, Scandinavia, and anti-English parts of Ireland, many of whom had opposed American entry into the Great War), many people were inclined toward pacifism, and leaders didn’t lust as much for military spending.
Anybody know where I can find a good historical account of this era?
P.S. Communists in the U.S. opposed FDR’s hard line against the Nazis from August 23, 1939 to June 22, 1941.
Finns (refugees from the losing side of the 1917-1918 Finnish civil war) and Jews were disproportionately represented in members of CPUSA. This bit of history is not well-remembered outside of aging Commentary magazine-type circles. I once asked a contemporary Jewish novelist why his (deservedly) popular novel set in New York leftist Jewish circles in 1940 had zero mention of the Hitler-Stalin pact that obsessed actual New York leftist Jews at the time. He didn’t really have an answer. I’m not sure that he had ever thought much about it.