A House Divided

The Arsenal of Democracy

A House Divided explores the debate between isolationists and interventionists that gripped America from the outbreak of World War II in Europe until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. As Britain fought Nazi Germany alone, most Americans wanted no part of the conflict. President Franklin D. Roosevelt performed a delicate balancing act, supporting Britain through the Lend-Lease Act and beginning efforts to mobilize the nation’s defenses, while officially maintaining neutrality. The gallery immerses visitors in a time of great confusion, fear, and worry as Americans urgently debated the best course of action for the nation and war drew closer. Through a special media presentation featuring the images and sounds of conflicting voices engaged in the debate, the gallery immerses visitors in the atmosphere of anxiety that defined 1940–41 in the United States—as American society passionately hoped that peace would endure, but began to acknowledge that war may be unavoidable despite all efforts.