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America has long prided itself on being the land of freedom and democracy. Yet at home and abroad, the United States has a history of conflict. What causes these civil wars?
Causes of Civil Wars: The Great Depression
This led to a rise in violence by unemployed or underemployed men who had lost their jobs and could not find work. In 1932, President Hoover called for federal aid to alleviate the suffering of those hit hardest by the economic downturn.
Congress responded with the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act. This appropriated $3 billion to provide relief and reemployment assistance to the unemployed.
This act was considered a major success because it provided direct assistance to people who needed help most during this period. However, the bill did not include any provisions to prevent future recurrences of such events.
Causes of Civil Wars: Betrayal by France
After World War I, many Americans felt betrayed by France’s refusal to honor its international treaty obligations, including its promise to pay reparations to Austria-Hungary following the war.
During the late 1910s, American leaders pushed for the creation of an independent league of nations that would maintain order throughout Europe, but their efforts were futile. Germany then went ahead and created the League of Nations in 1919 without America’s knowledge.
When it became clear that the League of Nations was ineffective in preventing German aggression, Congress passed the Treaty Participation Act in 1922, requiring the president to notify Congress when the U.S. planned to sign a peace agreement. Despite this new law, no such notice was ever given.
Poor banking practices and political corruption
Many Americans blamed the Bankers’ Panic of 1907 on a combination of poor banking practices and political corruption.
In response, Congress enacted the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, establishing a central bank system, known as the Fed, to regulate banking and monetary policy. It also granted the president authority to appoint the chairmen of regional Fed banks.
These appointments allowed presidents to appoint their people to positions they desired, creating a conflict between the executive branch and the legislative branch.
At the start of World War II, Nazi sympathizers tried to use a radio broadcast from London to incite riots among Germans living in the US.
Anti-Nazi organizations such as the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee worked together to thwart the anti-Semitic broadcasts.
To do so, they distributed leaflets describing how Nazis intended to destroy Jews and urging listeners to report any suspicious activity to local authorities. For example, one leaflet stated: “If you see someone dressed up like Hitler, don’t say anything.
But if you believe him to be doing something wrong, call your police.” Because some citizens interpreted the leafleting campaign as a threat, the government issued a public warning against all forms of propaganda.
This caused tension between the executive branch and Congress, leading to further restrictions on free speech.
Pearl Harbor attack
Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese in December 1941. As a result, the US declared war on Japan and entered World War 2.
Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act in March 1941. This gave Roosevelt broad powers to lend military equipment to allies fighting Axis forces.
However, these powers were limited to items needed to fight the current war. When Truman took office, he attempted to expand these powers.
His plans included using the Act to provide economic aid to countries still suffering under the yoke of fascism. Even though there was no longer a formal state of war with those countries.
He wanted to give the United States greater control over foreign trade and investment after the end of the war. However, congressional opposition eventually led to Truman vetoing his proposals.
The United States has survived many crises throughout its history.
The country’s unique characteristics have enabled it to avoid civil wars or international wars for more than two centuries. Although the Constitution is a document that protects individual rights, it does not guarantee peace.
Instead, the Constitution sets rules for governing the nation. Citizens must work together to maintain national unity and prosperity.
If we continue to follow the values set out by our founding fathers—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and tolerance for different opinions—then we will ensure long-term stability.