Launching of the USS North Carolina 1940; Wikimedia Commons

In January 1937, President Roosevelt directed the Navy Department to proceed with the construction of two replacement battleships, the first such construction since the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

From 1935 to 1937, the United States Army grew from 118,000 to 158,000 enlisted men. Nevertheless, the isolationist Secretary of War Harry H. Woodring declared that the USA was not keeping up with the large military expansions of other world powers and needed to be further strengthened.

Still maintaining a non-intervention foreign policy (unless the Monroe Doctrine was threatened), FDR fired Woodring in 1940 over public disagreement regarding the government’s shipment of war materials to Britain.