In championing “America First” isolationism and protectionism, the current U.S administration has shifted the political mood toward selective U.S. engagement, where foreign commitments are limited to areas of vital U.S. interest and economic nationalism and unilateralism are the order of the day. Yet the resurgence of the phrase — and even these ideas and policies — has been disconnected from historical context. What is that history? What are the key ideas of “America First” and to the longer tradition of isolationism? And why is it significant? Nichols explains the origins, development, and central tenets of American isolationism. The talk focuses on the rise of “America First” in the early 1940s and WWII and will illuminate how this history has implications that shape present policies and debates.