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Defend America First

Defend America First Political Button Museum
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Defend America First button back Political Button Museum
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Blue text on a white background above white text on a red background.

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Chas. M. Geraghty Inc.  500 Sherman St. Chicago, ILL.  Union Bugs

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Produced by the America First Committee (AFC), this button echoed the organization's straighforward appeal to legislators: "Defend America First." Promulgated in September, 1940 by Yale Law School student R. Douglas Stuart Jr., along with other students, the America First Committee snowballed into one of the foremost anti-war movements in American history—denouncing any and all forms of US involvement in World War II. Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the AFC peaked with nearly 800,000 dues-paying members, and included such prominent leaders as General Robert E. Wood, famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, as well as Senator Charles P. Nye. Geographically, Illinois became one of the leagues' strongholds, with over 135,000 members and 60 chapters.

The AFC not only opposed direct US military involvement, but it also protested any and all forms of aid sent to Great Britain or any other Allied country. They feared support of the latter would necessarily lead to direct military involvement. Although the AFC's effective campaign failed to stop the passage of the Lend-Lease Act or halt the repeal of the Neutrality Act, the organization's pressure upon Congress and the White House may have potentially saved thousands of American lives.

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