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Mobilizing for War. Attacked on our OWN SOIL!. FDR found out about Pearl Harbor at 1:30 p.m. on December 7. Secretary of the Navy said to him, “Mr. President, it looks like the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor.”
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Attacked on our OWN SOIL! • FDR found out about Pearl Harbor at 1:30 p.m. on December 7. Secretary of the Navy said to him, “Mr. President, it looks like the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor.” • A few minutes later he was heard saying to his wife, “I never wanted to have to fight this war on two fronts. We haven’t got the Navy to fight in both the Atlantic and Pacific…We will have to build up the Navy and the Air Force and that will mean we will have to take a good many defeats before we can have a victory.”
Converting the Economy • Although FDR was worried about the economy and fighting a global war, Winston Churchill had nothing but confidence in America, he said: “Once the fire is lighted under it there is no limit to the power it can generate.” • He was right, the industrial output of the US during the war astounded the rest of the world. • The US was able to expand its war production so rapidly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in part because the government had begun to mobilize the economy before the country entered the war. • After the German blitzkrieg attack on France many Americans were shocked by the success of the German attack, and were now willing to build up the country’s defenses.
Converting the Economy (cont’d) • Normally the government would ask companies to bid for military contracts but this system was too slow in wartime.So they signed cost-plus contracts instead. Where the government agreed to pay a company whatever it cost to make a product plus a guaranteed percentage of the costs as profit. • Under this system, the more a company produced, and the faster it did the work, the more money it would make. • Although cost-plus convinced many companies to convert to war production, many could not afford to reequip their factories. So Congress gave new authority to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). This was developed in the Depression but was now permitted to make loans to companies to help them cover the cost of converting to war production.
American Industry – Gets the Job Done! • By summer of 1942 almost all major industries and some 200,000 companies had converted to war production. • Tanks replace cars – automobile factories began to produce trucks, jeeps, and tanks. They also built artillery, rifles, mines, helmets, pontoon bridges, cooking pots, and dozens of other pieces of military equipment. • Henry Ford created an assembly line for the enormous B-24 Bomber, known as “the Liberator.” By the end of the war it had produced 8,600 B-24s
Liberty Ships – Henry Kaiser’s shipyard were best known for the production of the “Liberty Ships.”This was the basic cargo ship used during the war. Most of them were welded instead of riveted which made them easy to build, cheap, and very hard to sink compared to riveted ships. • War Productions Board – govt agencies argued constantly about supplies and contracts and whose orders had the highest priority. The WPB had the authority to set priorities and production goals and to control the distribution of raw materials and supplies • In 1943 FDR had to establish the OWM (Office of War Mobilization) to settle arguments between businesses and the WPB.
Building an Army • Within days of Germany’s attack on Poland, FDR expanded the army to 227,000 soldiers • After France surrendered to Germany in June, 1940, Congress introduced the Selective Service Training Act – a plan for the first peacetime draft in American history. • Many of first draftees had to live in tents and use temporary facilities. Experienced equipment shortages and used sticks for guns, threw stones simulating grenades, and practiced maneuvers with trucks carrying signs that read “TANK.”
Building an Army (cont’d) • Draftees were given a health examination and shots against typhoid and small pox. • Issued uniforms, boots and whatever equipment was available. Clothing had the label G.I. meaning “Government Issue” which is why American soldiers were called GI’s • Took aptitude tests and then sent to basic training for 8 weeks. Learned how to handle weapons, load backpacks, read maps, pitch tents, and dig trenches. They also drilled and exercised constantly and learned how to work together as a team.
Segregated Army • At start of WWII, US military was completely segregated. • White recruits trained separately from African Americans. They had separate barracks, latrines, mess halls, and recreational facilities • Once trained, African Americans were organized into their own military units with white officers in command of them. • Most military leaders wanted to keep them out of combat and assigned them to construction and supply units
Segregated Army (cont’d) • Many African Americans did not want to support the war. They didn’t think Hitler could do much worse to them when they didn’t even have freedoms at home. They were still shut out of labor unions, lynchings continued, and were denied the right to vote. • Some African Americans combined patriotism with protest. The National Urban League set two goals for its members, (1)To promote effective participation in all phases of the war effort…(2) to formulate plans for building the kind of US in which we wish to live after the war is over. • They called it the Double V Campaign.They hoped they could achieve a double victory, one against Hitler’s racism abroad and one against racism at home.
Segregated Army (cont’d) • Under pressure from African American leaders, FDR ordered the army, air force, navy and marines to begin recruiting African Americans and he directed the army to put them into combat. • He also appointed Benjamin O. Davis, the highest-ranking African American officer in the US Army to the rank of brigadier general. • 99th Pursuit Squadron an African American unit that trained in Tuskegee, Alabama. These fighter pilots became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. They were sent into the Mediterranean in April of 1943 and played an important role during the Battle of Anzio in Italy.
African American 761st Tank Battalion was commended for its service during the Battle of the Bulge. • Although the military did not end all segregation during the war, it did integrate military bases in 1943 and steadily expanded the role of African Americans within the armed forces. These successes paved the way for Pres. Truman’s decision to fully integrate the military in 1948.
Women in WWII • Army enlisted women for first time, although they were barred from combat • Instead their slogan suggested that women were needed to “release a man for combat.” By assigning women to these jobs, more men would be available for combat. • WAAC Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps – still many women unhappy that it was an auxiliary corps and not part of the regular army. • WAC Women’s Army Corps – replaced the WAAC with a true Army Corps, under Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby. Coast Guard, Navy and Marines quickly followed with their own women’s unit. • In addition to these new corps, 68,000 women served as nurses in the army and navy.