The Quarantine Speech was a speech given by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Chicago on October 5, 1937. The speech called for an international "quarantine" against the "epidemic of world lawlessness" by aggressive nations as an alternative to the political climate of American neutrality and non-intervention that was prevalent at the time. No countries were directly mentioned in the speech, although it was interpreted as referring to the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Italy, and Nazi Germany.[1] Roosevelt suggested the use of economic pressure, a forceful response, but less direct than outright aggression. The speech was given at the dedication of the Outer Drive Bridge between north and south outer Lake Shore Drive. The speech received backlash for its interventionist ideals, causing protest from non-interventionists and heightening America's isolationist sentiments.

Public response to the speech was mixed. Famed cartoonist Percy Crosby, creator of Skippy (comic strip) and very outspoken Roosevelt critic, bought a two-page advertisement in the New York Sun to attack it.[2] In addition, it was heavily criticized by Hearst-owned newspapers and Robert R. McCormick of the Chicago Tribune, but several subsequent compendia of editorials showed overall approval in US media.[3]

Roosevelt realized the impact that those writing in favor of isolationism had on the nation. He hoped that the storm isolationists had created would fade away and allow the general public to become educated and even active in international policy.[4] However, this was not the response that grew over time, with the controversy eventually intensifying isolationism views in more Americans.[5] Roosevelt even mentioned in two personal letters written on October 16, 1937, that "he was 'fighting against a public psychology which comes very close to saying 'peace at any price.'"[6] Disappointed in how the public reacted to the speech, Roosevelt decided to take a step back with regards to his foreign policy, even to the point of accepting an apology from Japan after the sinking of the USS Panay.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Patrick J. Maney (1998). The Roosevelt presence: the life and legacy of FDR. University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-520-21637-2. quarantine speech italy japan.
  2. ^ Percy Crosby on Franklin Roosevelt, David Martin, October 3, 2010
  3. ^ Edward Moore Bennett (1995). Franklin D. Roosevelt and the search for security: American-Soviet relations, 1933-1939. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 98, 99, 100. ISBN 978-0-8420-2247-7.
  4. ^ John McV. Haight, Jr. (1962). "Roosevelt and the Aftermath of the Quarantine Speech". The Review of Politics. 24 (2): 233–259. doi:10.1017/S0034670500009669. ISSN 0034-6705. JSTOR 1405491. S2CID 143361915.
  5. ^ Andrew Glass (5 October 2018). "FDR calls for 'quarantine' of aggressor nations, Oct. 5, 1937". POLITICO. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  6. ^ John McV. Haight, Jr. (1962). "Roosevelt and the Aftermath of the Quarantine Speech". The Review of Politics. 24 (2): 235. ISSN 0034-6705. JSTOR 1405491.
  7. ^ "Franklin D. Roosevelt - Foreign policy". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-03-03.