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.
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 democracy (again).
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 away.
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 survivors.
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.
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 and production.
Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser was dubbed “Sir Launchalot”
because his methods of ship assembly churned out one ship every 14 days!
The War Production Board halted manufacture of nonessential items
such as passenger cars, and when the Japanese seized vital rubber