Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Where did 'America First' originate?

After being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump delivered his inaugural address. In that address he mentioned putting "America first."

"From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land," Trump said. "From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first."

His inauguration speech wasn't the first time Trump has used the phrase. He made it a foreign policy talking point during the campaign and during his victory tour rallies.

But where did the phrase originate?

A century ago, President Woodrow Wilson brought the United States into World War I, ending a long period of forbearance from foreign wars that was rooted in the 1823 Monroe Doctrine.

During the 1930s, some Americans looked askance at political turmoil in Europe and opposed calls by Democratic politicians to combat the rise of fascism. Among the most prominent isolationists was aviator and Nazi admirer Charles Lindbergh, whose movement was also called America First. Lindbergh's cause failed and the U.S. military played a decisive role in World War II and in the postwar reconstruction of Europe and Asia.

Ian Bremmer, an author and political scientist, inadvertently provided the nomenclature for Trump by referring to his policy before the primary season as America First.

He didn't mean it as a compliment.

"I said, 'This is clearly America First.' It's not, Make America Great Again, because it won't make America great again. This is viewing international relations through a purely zero-sum, winners-and-losers kind of frame," Bremmer said in an interview. "It's blaming everyone else in the world for America's challenges."

"I was not suggesting this was a good thing."

When the New York Times asked Trump about it in April, he said he liked the expression and repeated it on the campaign trail.

Times researchers Caryn Baird and John Martin contributed to this report.

Where did 'America First' originate? 01/20/17 [Last modified: Friday, January 20, 2017 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Search for missing Army helicopter crew suspended in Hawaii


    HONOLULU — Officials have suspended the search for five Army soldiers who were aboard a helicopter that crashed during offshore training in Hawaii last week.

    Water safety officials hand over possible debris from an Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crash to military personnel stationed at a command center in a harbor, Wednesday in Haleiwa, Hawaii, a day after. an Army helicopter with five on board crashed several miles off Oahu's North Shore. Officials  suspended the search for five Army soldiers in a helicopter crash during offshore training in Hawaii on Monday. [Associated Press]
  2. Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan


    Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

  3. Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville


    Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that "both sides” bear blame for Charlottesville.

  4. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer


    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  5. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry


    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.