Neutrality Acts

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(USA) A series of Acts passed at the height of isolationism, amidst fears that the desire for profits from the arms industry might fuel direct or indirect participation in war. They followed a Senate Committee chaired by Gerald P. Nye in 1934, which revealed the high profits among arms manufacturers during World War I. The Acts, which passed through Congress 1935–9, prohibited loans or credits to belligerents. They placed embargoes on direct or indirect shipments of arms or munitions, making no distinction between aggressor and victim nations. The Acts of 1935 and 1936 both affected US policy on the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) War. Similarly, two Acts in 1937 limited the US response to the Spanish and Chinese civil wars. The Act of 1939 repealed arms embargoes and authorized ‘cash and carry’ exports to any belligerent power, but continued to forbid US ships to carry ‘belligerent cargo’. During 1940 President Roosevelt fought for repeal of the Acts on the grounds that they encouraged aggression by the Axis Powers and endangered US security. They were replaced by the Lend‐Lease Act of March 1941.

Subjects: History — Warfare and Defence.

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