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Chapter 28 - America In A World At War

 1)War on Two Fronts

a)Containing the Japanese

i)After Pearl Harbor US forces surrendered in the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island; to turn tide US lead 2 offensives- Gen Douglas MacArthur’s attacks from the south, and Admiral Chester Nimitz attacked from HI to the west

ii)May 1942 Battle of Coral Sea weakened Jap navy; more important Battle of Midway Island June 1942 regained US central Pacific control

iii)Mid-1943 after fighting in Solomon Islands (Guadalcanal) US turned tide

b)Holding Off the Germans

i)US military plans in Europe influenced by Soviet Union and GB; FDR decided to delay invasion into France in favor of October 1942 counter-offensive in N. Africa against Nazi Gen Erwin Rommel; by May 1943 Gen George Patton and British Gen Montgomery had driven Germans from Africa

ii)Soviet Red Army held off immense German 1942-1943 winter offensive at Stalingrad, Hitler’s forces exhausted and forced to abandon eastern advance

iii)July 1943 US agreed to British plan to invade Sicily, Mussolini govt collapsed but German reinforcements prevented capture of Rome until June 1944; slow, costly Italy campaign delayed French channel invasion Soviets had called for

c)America and the Holocaust

i)By 1942 news of Holocaust (Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jews) prompting public cries to end killing, but US govt resisted calls for military aid + officials at the State Dept deliberately refused to let Jews enter US

2)The American People In Wartime


i)WWII ended Great Depression problems of unemployment, deflation, production b/c of wartime economic expansion + massive govt spending (federal budget grew from 1939 $9 billion to 1945 $100 billion)

b)The War and the West

i)West shared disproportionally in massive govt capital investments; 

ii)Businessman Henry Kaiser steered federal funds to make Pacific Coast major industrial center for shipbuilding, aircraft; launching stage for Japanese war

c)Labor and the War

i)Labor shortage caused by military recruitment; unemployed from Depression worked, but also women + other previously unused groups entered workforce 

ii)Union membership increased; new govt limits on wage increases +“no-strike” promise, in return govt allowed all new workers to automatically join unions

iii)Govt+ public sought to reduce inflation + guarantee production w/o disruption

d)Stabilizing Boom

i)1942 Congress passed Anti-Inflation Act which allowed Pres to freeze prices and wages, set rations; enforced by the Office of Price Administration

ii)Govt spent 2X more $ btwn 1941-1945 than it had during whole existence; raised $ thru bond sales, Revenue Act of 1942 created new high tax brackets

e)Mobilizing Production

i)1942 War Production Board created to organize mobilization effort but was largely unable to direct military purchases + include small businesses; program later replaced by White House Office of War Mobilization

ii)Nevertheless, US economy met all war needs; new factories were built, entire rubber industry created. By 1944 output 2X that of all Axis nations combined

f)Wartime Science and Technology

i)Govt stimulated new military technologies by funneling massive funds to National Defense Research Committee

ii)Originally Germany (w/ sophisticated tanks + submarines) and Japan (w/ strong naval-air power) technologically ahead of Allies; US, however, had experience w/ mass production in auto industry and was able to convert many of these plants to produce armaments

iii)Allied advances in radar + sonar beyond Axis capabilities helped limit effectiveness of U-Boats in Atlantic; Allies developed more effective anti-aircraft tech and produced large amount of powerful 4-engine aircraft (British Lancaster + US B17) able to attack military forces + industrial centers 

iv)Greatest Allied advantage found in intelligence gathering—British Ultra project able to break German “Enigma” code and intercept info on enemy movements; American Magic operation broke Japanese “Purple” code

g)African-Americans and the War

i)Blacks wanted to use war as means of improving own conditions. A Philip Roth (head of Brotherhood of Sleeping Car porters) wanted all companies w/ war contracts to integrate work force

ii)Fearing black workers strike, FDR created Fair Employment Practices Commission to investigate labor discrimination. Later, Congress of Racial equality combated discrimination in society at large using popular resistance

iii)War saw migration of blacks from rural South to industrial cities of North in greater numbers than those found of first Great Migration during WWI

h)Native Americans and the War

i)Some Native Americans served in military (some as famous “Code Talkers”), many others left reservations seeking work in war industries

i)Mexican-American War Workers

i)War labor shortages lead to large Mex immigration of braceros (contract laborers); ethnic tensions from growing immigrant neighborhoods w/ existing white communities led to “Zoot-Suit Riots” in Los Angeles in 1943

j)Women and Children of War

i)Large number of women entered roles they were previously excluded from

ii)Many women worked in factories to replace men who had entered military, but some inequality existed in what jobs they could hold in factories

iii)Most women took service-sector jobs in growing govt bureaucracies; limited others worked in “male” heavy-industry (famous Rosie the Riveter image)

iv)Over 1/3 of teenagers took jobs during war; crime rate also rose during war

k)Wartime Life and Culture

i)Increased prosperity from war led to marked rise in theater and movie attendance, magazine and news circulation, hotel, casino, dance hall visits

ii)War effort largely seen as means of protecting material comfort + consumer choice of “home”; visions of home and future women romanticized by troops

l)The Internment of Japanese Americans

i)WWII did not largely see restrictions of civil liberties + growth of hatred toward fringe groups as during WWI; little ethnic tension in part due to propaganda attacking enemy’s political system but not people

ii)Glaring exception in treatment of Japanese Americans who were painted as scheming + cruel (re-enforced by Pearl Harbor); white Eur groups largely accepted by now, but assimilated Japs faced prejudice + viewed as “foreign”

iii)Conspiracy theories of Jap-Americans aiding in Pearl Harbor attacks led govt + military to see them as a threat; 1942 Roosevelt created War Relocation Authority to move Japanese citizens to “relocation camps” for monitoring

iv)Starting 1943 condition began to improve as some Japs allowed to got o college or take jobs on East Coast; although 1944 Supreme Court case Korematsu v U.S. ruled relocation constitutional, by that time most of internees had been allowed to leave camps

m)Chinese Americans and the War

i)US war alliance w/ China helped Chinese Americans advance legal + social position—1943 Congress repealed Chinese Exclusion acts

ii)Many Chinese took jobs in industry or were drafted into the military

n)The Retreat from Reform

i)FDR wanted to shift priority from reform to war effort and victory

ii)With massive unemployment no longer an issue + Republican gains, Congress dismantled relief programs and other New Deal programs

iii)In 1944 Pres election Repubs nominated Thomas Dewey; Dems re-nominated Roosevelt but w/ new, less liberal VP candidate Harry Truman

iv)Despite deteriorating health Roosevelt was popularly elected; Dems maintained control of both Houses of Congress

3)The Defeat of the Axis

a)The Liberation of France

i)By 1944 devastating Allied strategic bombing against German industry at Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin reduced production + complicated transport; German Luftwaffe forced to retreat to bases w/in Germany itself, weakened it

ii)After 2 year buildup in England Supreme Allied Commander Gen Dwight Eisenhower ordered invasion across English Channel into Normandy, France on “D-Day” (June 6, 1944); Allies drove Germans from the coast, by September forced them to retreat from France, Belgium

iii)In December Germany counter-attacked during Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest, but soon repelled; with Soviet advances on Eastern front, Allies began moving into Germany across Rhine

iv)April 30 Hitler commits suicide; May 8, 1945 full surrender + “V-E” Day

b)The Pacific Offensive

i)Thru 1944 American navy crippling Japanese shipping and economy in Pacific; on mainland Asia Japan attacking thru Chinese interior trying to cutoff Gen Stilwell’s Burma Road for supplies

ii)June 1944 Americans captured Mariana Islands, in September Battle of Leyte Gulf Japanese navy decimated by US sinking of its aircraft carriers; in next few months Japanese fought desperate battles of resistance in Feb at Iwo Jima, in June at Okinawa (used Kamikaze suicide bombers throughout)

iii)Many feared bloody island battles would ensue w/ invasion of Japanese mainland, but by 1945 Japanese weakened by firebombing in Tokyo, shelling of industrial centers; moderates in govt trying to sue peace against will of military leaders wanting to continue fight

c)The Manhattan Project

i)After news in 1939 that Nazis pursuing atomic bomb, US and +GB began race to develop one before them; work based on discovery of uranium radioactivity by Enrico Fermi 1930s, Einstein’s theory of relativity

ii)Army took over control of research and poured billions of $ into Manhattan Project which gathered scientists to create nuclear chain reactions w/ a bomb

iii)On July 16 1945 the plutonium bomb Trinity, created by scientist Robert Oppenheimer at the Los Alamos Laboratory, successfully tested

d)Atomic Warfare

i)Pres Truman issues ultimatum to Japanese for “unconditional surrender” by Aug 3rd or face annihilation; after Jap moderates unable to convince military leaders to accept Truman ordered use of atomic weapon

ii)Some argue atomic weapon unnecessary b/c in time Japs would have sued for peace; others argue only atomic bomb could convince radical military leaders that surrender necessary. Truman saw weapon as military device that could end war quickly, but some say he used it to intimidate Stalin and Soviets

iii)August 6, 1945 bomber Enola Gay dropped atomic weapon on Japanese city Hiroshima, killing 80,000 civilians; because Jap govt didn’t respond, on August 8 second atomic  bomb dropped on city of Nagasaki killing 100,000

iv)By Aug 14 emperor agreed to surrender; September 2, 1945 Japan signed articles of surrender (“V-J Day”) marking end of WWII

v)14 million combatants had died during war, even more civilians; threat of nuclear war loomed between two emerging super-powers in US and Soviet Union


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