From Ohio History Central
Isolationists are Americans who are opposed to United States involvement in foreign affairs. People with these sentiments have existed since the founding of the nation. During the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, their numbers grew, and they became increasingly more vocal.
Generally, isolationists oppose United States involvement in other countries' affairs because it supposedly weakens the United States. Isolationists want the United States to be self-sustaining, rather than dependent on other nations for food and other types of supplies. They contend that sending United States military forces overseas leaves the nation weaker and less able to defeat an attack on American soil. To insure the United States' survival, isolationists contend that the government's focus must be on its citizens at home, rather than on other nations.
Isolationists existed across the United States, including in Ohio. One of the most famous Ohioans to endorse this policy was Norman Thomas. Thomas was the Socialist Party's candidate for the U.S. presidency on six different occasions. He believed that involvement in international affairs would result in the needless deaths of American soldiers, the loss of jobs within the United States, and the weakening of America's military defenses and its economy. To propagate these isolationistic ideas, Thomas helped to establish the America First Committee, an organization that encouraged the United States government and American business to focus their activities on the United States rather than on other countries. Thomas, himself, objected to United States involvement in World War I, but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he did support American entry into World War II. With the advent of the Cold War in the late 1940s, Thomas denounced communism, but he also encouraged the United States to return to isolationism.