Connor J. Madden

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-5-2014

Major Department or Program



David F. Schmitz


This thesis examines how President Franklin D. Roosevelt developed the key concepts that would become the ideological framework of American national security policy in the post-World War II era. Upon taking office in 1933, recognizing that Americans had embraced an isolationist attitude, Roosevelt focused his attention on solving the nation’s domestic issues. But after securing reelection in 1936 the president increasingly turned his attention to world affairs and the growing threat of aggression from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Between 1937 and 1941, he sought to “educate” the American people concerning the need to adopt a new, global national security policy based on the promotion of American ideals. This change in policy was accomplished through a gradual process in which Roosevelt set out for the American public the global interests of the United States and warned of the danger posed to American security by aggressor nations. He asserted that in the interconnected, modern world, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans could no longer guarantee the safety of the United States, making hemispheric defense obsolete. Moreover, the president portrayed fascist aggression as a fundamental challenge to American democracy and declared that the security and liberty of the United States could never be assured as long as aggressors encroached on the freedom of peoples anywhere, thus undermining the logic of neutrality. Consequently, he insisted that it was vital to maintain a high level of military preparedness, cooperate with allies, and actively promote universal American institutions and values abroad through the exercise of American power in order to protect the security of the United States. As Roosevelt convinced the majority of Americans to embrace this expanded definition of national security, he moved to revise the neutrality laws, provide aid to the Allies, and eventually bring the United States into World War II as a full belligerent.

Page Count


Subject Headings

World War (1939-1945) -- United States -- Mobilization, National security -- Congresses -- Government policy, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) -- Military Leadership -- Criticism and interpretation, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) -- 1937 Inauguration, Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) -- Attach on -- 1941, Isolationism -- United States -- Case studies, Internationalists -- Analysis, Democracy -- United States -- (1930-1950), World War II -- Politics and Government, Munich Four-Power Agreement (1938), Oppression -- Politics and government -- 20th century, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2014 -- History Department

Permanent URL

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

Terms of Use

If you have questions about permitted uses of this content, please contact the ARMINDA administrator

Included in

History Commons



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).