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Mobilizing the Home Front • After Pearl Harbor, Americans from all backgrounds committed themselves to mobilizing for war and to the defense of what President Roosevelt called the Four Freedoms.
Building National Morale • Angered by the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans rallied behind the war effort. Most believed they were fighting for what Roosevelt called the Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. • Volunteers contributed to the war effort by working for the Office of Civilian Defense, growing victory gardens, and collecting materials for the war effort. The popular slogan for the time: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” promote the war effort?
Consumption to conservation • Pots, pans, cans • Newspaper • Rubber • Silk • Food • gasoline
Victory Gardens • Americans were urged to grow their own vegetables in parks, backyards, and unused lots and eat less meat (which was rationed) • Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call and made Victory Gardens -- Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.
War effort • To keep Americans informed about the war, the government established the Office of War Information, which coordinated war news from various federal agencies. • The entertainment industry jumped onto the bandwagon with patriot films and songs. Even comic strip characters went to war, while advertisements and billboards stimulated unity and conservation.
A production miracle • To help United States industry convert to war production, Roosevelt created the War Production Board (WPB) in January 1942. • The WPB issued orders that limited the production of consumer goods. It also encouraged businesses to build new plants. The government reduced the risks to businesses by reimbursing military contractors for their expenses and by granting relief from anti-trust laws to war-related industries.
A production miracle • by the WPB helped to nearly double industrial production. By 1944 the United States had created such a surplus of armaments that the government ordered some defense plants to stop hiring and cut back on items like anti-tank guns and trainer planes. • The United States produced 2,382,311 military trucks, 159,477 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 2,679,840 machine guns.
This chart shows the relationship in GDP between the Allied and the Axis during 1938-1945.
Wartime economy • Although the gross national product (GNP) grew at a staggering rate from 1938 to 1945, during the war, Roosevelt worried about rising inflation. As a result, the administration set up the National War Labor Board (NWLB) to control wages and monitor inflation. • NWLB restrictions applied to hourly wages, not to weekly earnings. By working overtime, workers could still earn a good deal of money. Meanwhile, Congress allowed the Office of Price Administration (OPA) to set a ceiling on prices.
Wartime economy • To pay for the war, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1942, which raised corporate taxes and levied an income tax on nearly all Americans. The government also financed the war by selling war bonds and war stamps, which could be redeemed at a later time for full value plus interest.
Directing a wartime economy • With wages rising about 65 percent over the course of the war, many American civilians enjoyed a stable or even improving quality of life during the war. • Overall, the consumer price index rose about the same percentage as wages (65 percent) between 1939 and 1945. The one way that the OPA achieved this balance was through rationing, which reduced demand. Although Americans were earning more, government restrictions limited their spending. • A Black market emerges for many goods
Inflation during wartime • The US worked to keep inflation low by: • Rationing – limiting consumption • Bonds – encouraging savings • Taxes – raising taxes pulls money from the system • Discouraging consumer consumption
Unions • Although the major labor unions issued no-strike pledges, the pledges were not binding. In 1943 the United Mine Workers went on strike when the NWLB denied them a raise to meet increasing prices. • There was an higher demand for coal during WWII. Production was increased in mines throughout the United States, but the workers wanted a raise to meet higher prices and more production. The United Mine Workers went on strike in 1943, which led to the government seizure of American mines. The strike was successful, but the Union faced heavy fines for the violation of the injunction barring the Union from striking.
Few strikes during the war • Roosevelt took over the mines when miners refused to go back to work. However, advisers urged him to seek a compromise rather than risk slowing coal production even further. • Workers in the steel and railroad industries also went on strike during the war. Despite these strikes, labor largely lived up to the no-strike pledge.
New workers • Enlistment of soldiers and expansion of war-time industries created labor shortages. Wartime labor demands wiped out unemployment and created new opportunities for women, especially in defenseindustries. • By 1945, more than 2.2 million women were working in the war industries, building ships, aircraft, vehicles, and weaponry. • In the Allied countries, thousands of women enlisted as nurses • Thousands of others joined defensive militias at home and there was a great increase in the number of women serving in the military itself. 350,000 American women served during World War II and 16 were killed in action • Despite income gaps, women workers performed production miracles. However, when the war ended, they either lost their jobs or left the workforce when loved ones returned home.