Chapter 38 ~ America in World War II ~ 1941– 1945
I. The Allies Trade Space for Time
When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, millions of infuriated Americans, especially on the west
coast, instantly changed their views from isolationist to avenger.
However, America, led by the wise Franklin D. Roosevelt, resisted such pressures, instead taking a “get Germany
first” approach to the war, for if Germany were to defeat Britain before the Allies could beat Japan, there would
be no stopping Hitler and his men.
Meanwhile, just enough troops would be sent to fight Japan to keep it in check.
iii. America had the hardship of preparing for war, since it had been in isolation for the preceding decades, and the
test would be whether or not it could mobilize quickly enough to stop Germany and make the world safe for
II. The Shock of War
After the attack at Pearl Harbor, national unity was strong as steel, and the few Hitler supporters in America faded
Most of America’s ethnic groups assimilated even faster due to WWII, since in the decades before the war, few
immigrants had been allowed into America.
Unfortunately, on the Pacific coast, 110,000 Japanese-Americans were taken from their homes and herded
into internment camps where their properties and freedoms were taken away.
The 1944 case of Korematsu v. U.S. affirmed the constitutionality of these camps.
It took more than 40 years before the U.S. admitted fault and made $20,000 reparation payments to camp
iii. With the war, many New Deal programs were wiped out, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works
Progress Administration, and the National Youth Administration.
iv. WWII was no idealistic crusade, as most Americans didn’t even know what the Atlantic Charter (declaration of
U.S. goals going into the war such as to fight Germany first, and Japan second) was.
III. Building the War Machine
Massive military orders (over $100 billion in 1942 alone) ended the Great Depression by creating demand for jobs
Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser was dubbed “Sir Launchalot” because his methods of ship assembly churned out one
ship every 14 days!
iii. The War Production Board halted manufacture of nonessential items such as passenger cars, and when the
Japanese seized vital rubber supplies in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, the U.S. imposed a national
speed limit and gasoline rationing to save tires.
iv. Farmers rolled out more food, but the new sudden spurt in production made prices soar—a problem that was
finally solved by the regulation of prices by the Office of Price Administration.
Many essential goods were rationed.
vi. Meanwhile labor unions pledged not to strike during the war, some did anyway.