America at War, 1941-1945
Things to Know
1. Background to war: American foreign policy in the 1920s — isolationist or not; disarmament, war debts and reparations, policy toward Latin America; response to aggression — nonintervention and neutrality legislation; change in policy after September 1939.
2. United States at war: major military campaigns in Pacific and European theaters and military leaders; wartime diplomacy — conferences between the "Big Three,” problems that arose, plans for the United Nations.
3. The home front: mobilization for war — industrial conversion, wage and price controls, key wartime agencies; social effects of the war — status of women, African-Americans, internment of Japanese-Americans; elections of 1940 and 1944.
Key Terms and Concepts
Washington Disarmament Conference
London Naval Conference
Dawes and Young Plans
Good Neighbor Policy
Neutrality Acts, 1935-1937
"Quarantine the Aggressor”
Neutrality Act of 1939
America First Committee
J. Robert Oppenheimer
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Executive Order 9066
A. Philip Randolph
War Production Board
Office of Price Administration
Office of War Information
War Labor Board
blitzkrieg: German term meaning “lightning war”; term applied to the rapid German military advance into Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium. Netherlands, and France in 1939 and 1940.
Bracero Program: Wartime agreement between the United States and Mexico to import farm workers to meet a perceived manpower shortage; the agreement was in effect from 1941 to 1947.
cash and carry: Key provisions of the Neutrality Act of 1939 that allowed the United States to sell arms and other contraband as long as nations paid cash and shipped the goods on their own vessels.
Europe First: Military strategy adopted by the United States that required concentrating on the defeat of Germany while maintaining a holding action against Japan in the Pacific.
Final Solution: Plan for the extermination of the Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Europe; a total of six million Jews were killed in death camps such as those established at Auschwitz, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka.
internment: Detaining enemy aliens during wartime; term specifically applied to Japanese aliens and Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast who were sent to relocation centers (Manzanar) in 1942 allegedly because of possible disloyalty.
kamikaze: Literally “divine wind,” Japanese term for fighter pilots who crashed their planes into American warships during the latter stages of World War II.
merchants of death: Term used by Senator Gerald P. Nye to describe the munitions- makers whom he blamed for forcing the United States into World War I. Nye headed a committee that investigated the industry from 1934 to 1936.
Rosie the Riveter: Term that came to symbolize all women who worked in defense plants and other industries during World War II.
second front: British and American invasion of France to relieve pressure on the Soviet Union in the east; Stalin had insisted on opening the second front from June 1941, but the invasion of Normandy (Operation Overlord) did not take place until June 1944.
Readings on America at War, 1941-1945
Alperovitz, Gar. Atomic Diplomacy (1965).
Blum, John Morton. V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II (1976).
Dalfiume, Richard M. Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces (1975).
Dallek, Robert. Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (1979). Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camp U.S.A. (1971).
Dower, John W. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (1986). Hartmann, Susan M. The Home Front and Beyond (1982).
Prange, Gordon. At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor (1981).
Smith, Gaddis. American Diplomacy During the Second World War (1965).