America First Committee

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Text on Button AMERICA FIRST
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Top half red, bottom half blue with white circle in middle; red, white, and blue shield graphic inside white circle; white text along border

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Allied Printing Trades Council-Chicago logo stamped on back

Curl Text Two illegible seals
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Produced by the America First Committee (AFC), most likely a Chicago chapter, this button echoed the organization's simple, yet effective appeal to legislators, "Defend America First." Promulgated in September 1940 by Yale Law School student R. Douglas Stuart Jr., along with other students, the AFC 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 and Allied countries. They feared support would 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. 

Catalog ID CA0037