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Making Internationalism Personal

Title: Making Internationalism Personal: The Great Depression and America's Advocates for International Cooperation, 1929-1936.
Name(s): Goodman, Joshua L., author
Creswell, Michael, professor directing thesis
Jones, James P., committee member
Upchurch, Charles, committee member
Department of History, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2010
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Between the world wars, Wilsonian activists called for the United States to use its power, money, and influence to help neutralize the volatile atmosphere in Europe and Asia and foster a cooperative global community to prevent war and settle international disputes rationally. These 'internationalists' were mostly intellectuals and publicists associated with universities, prominent foundations, and non-profit organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Foreign Policy Association. While a number of historians either downplay the importance of this group in policymaking or label them as idealists detached from the mainstream beat of American public opinion in the interwar period, internationalists' activities during the Great Depression indicate that they were more alert to reality than some writers suggest. This thesis explores a three-part revolution in the internationalist movement in the United States, whereby Wilsonian activists confronted the economic downturn of the early 1930s as both a challenge and an opportunity. On the one hand, the hardships of the Great Depression turned most Americans toward nationalist solutions for the crisis designed to put 'America first,' at the expense of the internationalist worldview the Wilsonians were working to cultivate. Moreover, the organizations and individuals who supported this non-governmental movement were not immune from the Depression themselves, and over the course of the 1930s their funding began to wither. Despite these problems, internationalists also used the Depression as an opportunity to reform their movement to make it more relevant and palatable to a wider public. This revolution took place in three categories. First, Wilsonians dropped their traditional vague arguments in favor of international cooperation and substituted an unyielding attack on economic nationalism, which they believed had caused the Great Depression and could engulf the world in another general war if left unchecked. They also supplemented their existing tactics for educating public opinion with new initiatives designed to shine a spotlight on the problems of the Depression for the largest possible number of Americans. Whereas their earlier efforts had focused on university students and the elite, 1930s internationalists launched a real campaign to bring Wilsonianism to the everyday American. Finally, in light of the fiscal constraints of the economic downturn during this period, internationalists were forced to streamline their movement by prioritizing their work and pooling resources to support only the best and most promising avenues of action. What these intellectuals considered the most promising is indicative of the lessons the Depression taught them. Altogether, these changes demonstrate that Wilsonians are deserving of attention in the historiography of American foreign policy in the inter-war period, since they did make a concerted effort to shape popular opinion about America's place in a global community, and their activities confirm that they did far more than bat about ideas that had no connection to the dire realities of the Great Depression.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-7146 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2010.
Date of Defense: April 2, 2010.
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Michael Creswell, Professor Directing Thesis; James P. Jones, Committee Member; Charles Upchurch, Committee Member.
Subject(s): History
Persistent Link to This Record:
Host Institution: FSU

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Goodman, J. L. (2010). Making Internationalism Personal: The Great Depression and America's Advocates for International Cooperation, 1929-1936. Retrieved from