History 416

Origins of World War II

November 16, 2005



I. FDR’s Constitution

1. Toward a Second New Deal? (significance of left-wing critics; Wagner, Social Security, and Public Utilities bills)


2. New Deal Legal Ideology (overturning Taft constitutional doctrine; regulatory impulse, “New Dealers” and legal realists)


3. Confrontation (from Schecter to Morehead; court-packing scheme)


II. Legacy of Court-Packing

1. Effects (judicial fallout: West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937); role of Roberts; appointments power and transformation of Court—Black, Douglas, Frankfurter, Murphy; constitutional fallout—emergence of rights-related liberalism, Thurman Arnold and transformation of anti-monopoly rationale; political fallout—creation of “conservative coalition” and 1938 midterm elections)


            2. FDR and Race (traditional view—importance of South, compromises to segregation, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson; revisionist view—liberals, NAACP, and Justice Department; lower court appointments; seeding cases?)


III. Path to War

            1. Changing World Order (Stalin and Popular Front strategy; French and Czech alliances; creation of Popular Front in France—Blum government; Rhineland and Olympics; Rome-Berlin “axis”; Spanish civil war and international response—Italy, Germany, Western democracies, irregular forces, Stalin; start of Japan-China war and FDR “Quarantine” speech)


            2. Road to Munich (Anschluss and Western response; FDR and Welles; the Czech question: symbolic importance—fate of central European democracy; strategic importance—alliances, military strength; diplomatic importance—role of USSR, start of purges; vulnerabilities—ethnic tensions, parliamentary structure, role of Beneš; fall of Blum and rise of Daladier; Chamberlain’s strategic vision, domestic realities, and cultural mindset; war scares; Chamberlain gambit; Mussolini and path to Munich; settlement and aftermath—Czechoslovakia, Germany, French public opinion)


            3. Onset of War (occupation of Bohemia and Moravia; Franco triumph in Spain; British guarantees; collapse of “Peace Front”; Daladier, cabinet government, and French military; curious role of Poland; Stalin and Nazi-Soviet Pact; start of war and collapse of Poland; Soviet invasion of Finland)