Pre-War Events:

  1. Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928): nations agre eing not to use military force for aggressive ends or territorial expansions
  2. Events of 1933
    • Japan threatening China and German nationalism and militarism reasserts itself under the Nazi party while the United States concerned with the depression and blinded to European affairs
  3. Neutrality Acts
    • Neutrality o Act of 1935: authorized the president to prohibit all arms shipments and to forbid US citizens to travel on the ships of belligerent nations
      • Lusitania
        The Lusitania on it's fateful voyage (pre-getting blown up)
    • Neutrality Act of 1936: forbade the extension of loans and credits to belligerents
      • Left the loophole of “Cash & Carry” (comes in later...)
    • Neutrality Act of 1937: forbade the shipment of arms to the opposing sides in the civil war in Spain
      • Saw it as an ideological struggle between fascism (General Francisco Franco) and forces of republicanism (Loyalists)
    • Fascist government was established in 1939 because of lack of US involvement

Prelude Confrontations to War:

· Appeasement:League_of_Nations_cartoon_from_Punch_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_16619.png
  1. Ethiopia 1935: Mussolini ordered Italian troops to invade Ethiopia
    • League of Nations and the United States objected but did not engage in military combat
  2. Rhineland 1936: Hitler openly defied the Versailles Treaty by ordering German troops to march into the Rhinelad
  3. China 1937: Japan instigates a war against China by invading
    • Sinking of the Panay: a US gunboat was bombed and sunk by Japanese planes
      The crew of the USS Panay
      • No US retaliation/involvement because of Japanese apology
  4. Sudetenland 1938: Hitler insisted that Germany take over a strip of land in Czechoslovakia where most of the inhabitants were German speaking
    • Neville Chamberlain (British Prime Minister) and Edouard Daladier (French President) met with Hitler in Munich and agreed to let him take over unopposed

· US Response:
  1. 1938: Roosevelt tested public opinion on “quarantining” the aggressive Japanese. The response was negative so he dropped it
  2. Preparedness:
    • 1938: Roosevelt increases the military and naval budgets by two-thirds
      • Accepted by isolationists because they thought it would only serve to prevent war in the Western Hemisphere

Foreign Policy:

1. Herbert Hoover: the United States should not enter into firm commitments to preserve the security of other nations
  • Isolationism: Economic sanctions, peace conferences, and treaties were believed to lead to military involvement (BAD)
    Herbert Hoover
  1. Japanese Aggression:
    • Japanese troops march into Manchuria, rename the territory Manchuko, and established a puppet government
      • Violating the Open Door policy so the US refused to recognize the legitimacy of the regime
  2. Latin America:
    • Ended interventionist policies, how:
      • Arranging for US troops to leave Nicaragua by 1933
      • Negotiating a treaty with Haiti to remove all US troops by 1934

2. Franklin Roosevelt’s Policies (1933-1938)
  • Good-Neighbor Policy: noninterventionist relations with Latin America
    • Why?:
      • Interventionism in support of dollar diplomacy no longer made economic sense (the Great Depression) and the US needed Latin America’s cooperation in defending the region from potential danger from rising militarist regimes in Germany and Italy
    1. Pan-American conferences:
      • 1933: US delegation pledges never again to intervene in the internal affairs of a Latin American country
      • 1936: US pledges to submit future disputes to arbitration and consultation if there was a threat from Europe
  • Cuba:
    • 1934: Persuaded Congress to nullify the Platt Amendment, retaining only the US right to keep its naval base at Guantanamo Bay
  • Mexico: Rejected the corporate demands to intervene with Mexico when it seized oil properties owned by US corporations, encouraging American companies to negotiate a settlement themselves

Breaking out of War 1939-1941 (in Europe):

  1. August 1939: Stalin and Hitler signed a nonaggression pact, secretly agreeing to divide Poland between the Soviet and German dictators
  2. Out Break of War (we don't care at this point...)
    Nazi soldiers parading through Warsaw after the invasion of Poland. (September 1939)
    • Invasion of Poland: September 1st, 1939:
      1. German tanks and plans began a full-scale invasion of Poland.
      2. Britain and France declare war on Germany and its allies (Italy and Japan). The War officially begins
        • Blitzkrieg: (lightening war) an overwhelming use of air power and fast-moving tanks
      3. Attacked Scandinavian neighbors in the North, France, Denmark, and Norway
      4. June 1940: only Great Britain is unoccupied by Germans

World War II: The Battlefronts:

· Waged on two fronts or “theaters of operation”
  • Pacific = Japanese
    1. Pearl Harbor: December 7th, 1941
      • Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii = 2,400 Americans were killed, 1,200 wounded, 20 warships sunk or severely damaged, & 150 airplanes destroyed, Battleship Arizona sank
      • Partial surprise: High government officials knew an attack somewhere in the Pacific was imminent because they had broken Japanese codes
    2. Declaration of War:
      • December 8th 1941: Congress acted immediately declaring war with only one dissenting vote. Three days later, Germany and Italy honored their treaty with Japan by declaring war on the United States
      • Officially involved in WWII
  • Europe = Germans ( Defense at sea, attacks by air:)
    • Fighting Germany: German advance ended in 1942 as a result of US entry and Soviet victory at Stalingrad
      • British and Americans focused on two objectives (1942):
        1. Overcoming the menace of German submarines in the Atlantic
          • 1942: German submarines sank over 500 Allied ships
          • Battle of the Atlantic: naval war to control the shipping lanes
          • Developed ways of detecting submarines: radar, sonar, and the bombing of German naval bases
        2. Beginning bombing raids on German cities
          Operation Torch troop movements
          • From North Africa to Italy:
            1. November 1942: Operation Torch: Led by Gen. Eisenhower and Gen. Montgomery, Took back North Africa from Germans by May 1943
            2. Summer 1943: Mussolini falls from power and but Germans maintain control of Italy until their final surrender in May 1945

From D day to Victory in Europe (fighting Germany)

  1. June 6th, 1944:
    • Drive to liberate France from Germany, Larges invasion by sea in history where the British, Canadian, and US forces, under General Eisenhower, secured several beachheads on the Normandy coast through a bloody but successful attack
    • By end of August, Paris was liberated
    • September: Allied troops make the push across the German boarder for Berlin
  2. December 1944: Battle of the Bulge (in Belgium): the Germans counterattack to drive Allies back (if only temporarily)
  3. German Surrender:
    • April 30th, 1945: Hitler commits suicide
    • May 7th, 1945: unconditional surrender of Nazi armies

Victory in Japan (fighting Japan)

  1. Early 1942: Japanese occupy- Korea, eastern China, the Philippines, British Burma, and Malaya, French Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), and most of the Pacific islands west of Midway island
  2. Turning point, 1942: predominately naval war
    • May 7-8: Battle of the Coal Sea: US aircraft carries stopped a Japanese invasion of Australia
    • June 4-7: Battle of Midway: The interception and decoding of Japanese messages enabled US forces to destroy four Japanese carriers and 300 planes
      • Island-hopping: naval commanders bypasses strongly held Japanese islands and isolated them with naval and air power § Admiral Chester Nimitz & General Douglas MacArthur
  3. Major Battles:
    • October 1944: Battle of Leyte Gulf
      • Larges naval battle in history where the Japanese used kamikaze pilots to make suicide
        Click on Picture for
        attacks on US ships. This later led to the US reoccupation of the Philippines
    • Battle of Okinawa (April to June 1945): Kamikazes were again used by the Japanese
  4. Atomic Bomb:
    • Truman decided to use the new technology rather than risk American lives in an invasion of Japan
      • August 6th, 1945: the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima
      • August 9th, 1945: a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki
        • About 250,000 Japanese died (total)
  5. Japan Surrenders:
    • Agreed to surrender if the emperor could remain as a titular (powerless) ruler
    • September 2, 1945: Japan’s formal surrender in Tokyo harbor was received by General MacArthur on the battleship Missouri

US Policy Changing:

  1. Roosevelt believed that British survival was crucial to US security but most Americans still wanted to stay out of a formal engagement
  2. Modifications to Neutrality Acts:
    1. “Cash and Carry”: British navy controlled the seas so if the United States ended its embargo, it would only be able to trade with the British as a result. Argument was that not doing this would have hurt the econom
      • Less restrictive Neutrality Act: provided that a belligerent nation could buy US arms if it used its own ships and paid cash and strongly favored the British
    2. selectiveserviceact.jpg
      Young men who were required to serve in the military during WWII
      Selective Service Act (1940): Congress enacting a law for compulsory military service where registration was required for all American men between the ages of 21 and 25 and for the training of 1.2 million troops
      • Isolationists opposed to the peace time draft but public opinion was against them
    3. Destroyers-for-bases deal: September 1940
      • German submarine attacks threatened British control of the Atlantic
      • Roosevelt traded 50 older (but still serviceable) US destroyers in exchange for the right to build military bases on British islands in the Caribbean because he could not sell outright without alarming isolationists

Wartime Conferences

  1. Casablanca: January 1943: Involved only 2 of the Big Three: Churchill and Roosevelt
    • Agreed to invade Sicily and to demand “unconditional surrender” of the Axis powers
  2. Teheran: November 1943: All of the Big Three: Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin
    • Agreed that the British and Americans would drive to liberate France while the Soviets would invade Germany and eventually join the war against Japan
  3. Yalta: February 1945: All of the Big Three: Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin
    • Agreed that:
      1. Germany would be divided into occupation zones
      2. Free elections in the liberated countries of Eastern Europe (even though it was occupied by Soviet troops)
      3. Soviets would enter the war against Japan
        • Join August 8th, 1945 right as Japan was about to surrender
      4. The Soviets would control the southern half of Sakhalin island and the Kurile Islands in the Pacific and would also have special concessions in Manchuria
      5. A new world peace organization (the future UN) would be formed at a conference in San Francisco
  4. Potsdam: (July 17-August 2, 1945): Truman, Stalin, and Clement Attlee (new British Prime minister) meet in Germany and agree:
    • To issue a warning to Japan to surrender unconditionally
    • To hold war-crime trials of Nazi leaders

Elections: (basically that FDR always wins...)

  1. Election of 1940: FDR is the first to have the opportunity to break the 2-term tradition and run for a 3rd term (which he does…)
    • Wendell Willkie: a lawyer and utility executive, Republican, Generally agreed with Roosevelt’s policies except he objected to Roosevelt breaking tradition of the 2 Terms
    • Results: Roosevelt won with 54% of the popular vote, a smaller margin than in 1932 and 1936
      • Why he won: 1) Strong economic recovery based on defense purchases 2) Fear of war causing voters to stay with the more experienced leader
  2. The Election of 1944 (<-- THE IMPORTANT ONE!!) Again FDR: Nation felt that in a war emergency, there should be no change in leadershipharry-truman-picture.jpg
    • Change in Vice-Presidential Nomination: Henry Wallace was thought to be too radical Harry Truman was chosen instead
      • Importance: those near FDR recognized the uncertainty of his health
    • Thomas Dewey: Republican Nomination, Governor of New York, Could not offer any real alternative to Roosevelt’s leadership or generate enthusiasm for change
    • Results: Roosevelt won by 53% of the popular vote
      • Died 3 months into his third term, Truman would serve out the rest.


Economic Diplomacy:

  1. London Economic Conference (1933): An international economic conference called by the League of Nations. Initially supported by Hoover and Roosevelt but Roosevelt pulled out of it for fear that stabilizing currencies would hurt his plans of economic recover (the Great Depression). Conference ended without reaching any agreement
  2. Recognition of the Soviet Union: (1933) Roosevelt grants recognition to the Soviet Union as a means to increase US trade and boost the economy
  3. Philippines:
    • Tydings-McDuffie Act (1934): provided independence of the Philippines by 1946 and the gradual removal of US military
  4. Reciprocal Trade Agreements: (1934) congress gave the president power to reduce US tariffs up to 50% for nations that reciprocated with comparable reductions for US imports

Costs of the War:
  1. 300,000 Americans lost their lives either in Europe or the Pacific and 800,000 were wounded
  2. Cost $325 billion
    • Federal spending increased 1,000% between 1939 and 1945
    • National debt reached $250 billion, five times what it had been in 1941


Discovery of the Holocaust:

  1. April 30th, 1945: Hitler commits suicide
  2. May 7th, 1945: unconditional surrender of Nazi armies
    • German Concentration Camps: 6 million Jewish civilians had been systematically murdered by Nazi Germany in mass genocide


The War’s Impact on Society:

African Americans:

  1. 2nd Great Migration: 1.5 million left the South for jobs in the North and West
  2. 1 million men served in the armed forces (segregated units)
    • Double V” slogan: V for victory over fascism abroad and V for Victory for equality at home
  3. Congress of Racial Equality (CORE): Worked more militantly for African American interests
    • USSupremeCourt180.jpgSmith v. Allwright: (1944) the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny membership in political parties to African Americans as a way of excluding them from voting in primaries

Mexican Americans:

  1. 300,000 served in the military
  2. 1942: agreement with Mexico allowed Mexican farm workers (braceros) to enter the US during harvest season without going through formal immigration
    • 1943: influx of Mexican immigrants stirred white resentment leading to the “zoot suit riots” in Los Angeles

Native Americans:

  1. 25,000 served in the military, many never returned to their reservations

Japanese Americans:

  1. 20,000 served in the military
  2. 1942: due to fears of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast the US government ordered over 100,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps
    • Korematsu v. US (1944): the Supreme Court upheld the US government’s interment policy as justified in wartime
    • 1988: federal government agreed that an injustice had been done


  1. 200,000 served in the military in noncombat roles
  2. 5 million women enter the workforce
    • Women took jobs vacated by men in uniform in industrial jobs in shipyards and defense plants
      • “Rosie the Riveter”
    • Pay still below of male counterparts


American Isolationists: wanted to make sure that the United States would never again be drawn into a foreign war. Strongest in


the Midwest and among Republicans

  1. Revisionist history of World War I: Widely accepted as a mistake
    1. Senator Gerald Nye: concluded in 1934 that the main reason for US participation in the world war was to serve the greed of bankers and arms manufacturers
      • Neutrality Acts are evidence of this
    2. America First Committee (1940): with the start of WWII, isolationists tried to mobilize the American public against the war
      • Charles Lindbergh was a speaker for them

Development of Fascism and Aggressive Militarism Abroad:

  1. Italy: (1922) Benito Mussolini led Italy’s Fascist party and took over the government
    • Fascism: people should glorify their nation and their race through an aggressive show of force
      • “Black shirts”
    • 1940: signed a treaty of alliance with Germany and Japan (part of the Axis Powers)
  2. Germany: (1920) rise of the Nazi party in response to the economic conditions after WWI and national resentment for the Treaty of Versailles. Adolf Hitler used anti-Semitic hatred and Fascist ideology to gain popularity à gained control of German legislature in early 1933adolf-hitler-404_678941c.jpg
    • “Brown shirts”
  3. Japan: (1920s-1930s) nationalists and militarists power increased and convinced Japanese emperor that the best way to access basic raw materials was to invade China and Southwest Asia
    • Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

Arsenal of Democracy:

  • Germany’s conquest was viewed by Roosevelt as a direct threat to US security and future democratic governments
    1. Four Freedoms: January 6th, 1941: proposed lending money to Britain for the purchase of US war materials with the justification that it was in defense of “four freedoms” & that the United states must stand behind nations committed to them
      • Freedom of Speech, Religion, from Want, and Fear
    2. Lend-Lease Act: Ending cash-carry and permitting Britain to obtain US arms on credit
      • Isolationists (America First Committee) opposed to this but public opinion was against them and the Lend-Lease Act signed into law March 1941
    3. Atlantic Charter: Secret meeting with Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister) to affirm the peace objectives should the US be drawn into the war
      • Self-determination for all people, no territorial expansion, and free trade
    4. Shoot-on-sight: July 1941 US Navy was being used to escort British ships carrying lend-lease materials
      • September 4th: American destroyer Greer was attacked by German submarine and Roosevelt gives the Navy standing orders to attack all German ships on sight


Posters, songs, and news bulletins served many purposes
  1. To maintain public moral
  2. To encourage people to sacrifice and conserve resources
  3. To increase war production


  1. Atomic Bomb:
    • Manhattan Project (1942): Directed by J. Robert Oppenheimer, employed 100,000 people, and spent $2 billion
      • July 16th, 1945: the atomic bomb was successfully tested at Alamogordo, New Mexico

  1. Truman decided to use the new technology rather than risk American lives in an invasion of Japan
    • August 6th, 1945: the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima
    • August 9th, 1945: a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki
      • About 250,000 Japanese died



Posters, songs, and news bulletins served many purposes
  1. To maintain public moral
  2. To encourage people to sacrifice and conserve resources
  3. To increase war production
    • “Rosie the Riveter”