A Student Remembers Prof. Clifford

In the fall of 2014, Sergio Goncalves ‘13, a POLS major, will be starting the graduate program in history at Brandeis University. While at UConn, Goncalves worked on a senior honors thesis with Prof. Garry Clifford. The thesis was entitled “Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Ruth Sarles, and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II.” It consisted of two essays analyzing the respective roles of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and of Ruth Sarles in a protracted national debate over the question of United States intervention in the Second World War. This national conversation occurred during the period of the war preceding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Personal Note from Sergio Goncalves:

I fondly recall working with my thesis advisor, Dr. J. Garry Clifford. Through his countless suggestions, Dr. Clifford provided me with the guidance I needed to make my thesis as clear, coherent, and authoritative as possible.

It should be noted that in the 1980s, Dr. Clifford interviewed Ruth Sarles and also photocopied her correspondence from the early 1940s. Needless to say, I extensively utilized information from these sources in my essay on Sarles, who in 1941 was the head of the Bureau for Research and Congressional Liaison of the anti-interventionist America First Committee. In this capacity, Sarles’s activities included composing bulletins and reports, furnishing anti-interventionist Senators and Congressmen with data, helping members of Congress write resolutions and speeches, booking noninterventionist speakers for both radio broadcasts and America First rallies, and suggesting strategies to America First national headquarters in Chicago. Notwithstanding the demonstrably vital role Sarles played within the America First Committee, to date no scholar has published an extensive analysis of this role. Dr. Clifford had long hoped to one day publish a scholarly article about Sarles.

With this brief note, I would like to thank Dr. Clifford one last time for introducing me to Ruth Sarles and to the broader topic of pre-World War II isolationist critics of the foreign policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Dr. Clifford stressed, though they were wrong on the specific issue of World War II, these critics are worthy of commendation for their skepticism of excessive Executive Branch dominance in the conduct of United States foreign relations.

I shall never forget Dr. John Garry Clifford, an indefatigable mentor who inspired me to pursue further studies in history.

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