4. Synopsis World War II was responsible for the deaths of seventeen million members of the armed forces including 322, 000 Americans. Additional millions of civilians died from bombing raids, famine, epidemics and other war-related causes. The United Stated suffered relatively little destruction from the War. The number of American casualties was small compared to the rest of the world. Before and after the United States entered the War, a wide diversity of viewpoints existed amongst the people of the United States.
In 1940 Germany was a serious threat to the future of the democratic world. Although most Americans agreed that a German victory would be disastrous to the United States, many opposed the system of a military draft. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the United States declared war. War had been inevitable for a while, however, it was not until the United States was directly attacked that full public support for war was present. During the War, many opposing opinions existed on issues ranging from the treatment of minorities, to the use of the atomic bomb. "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" brilliantly provides access to a wide diversity of opinions during World War II.
5. What does the book tell you about life in the United States during that time? What does the book tell you about the treatment of minorities in the United States? American society was greatly affected by World War II. These effects included an expansion of the federal government, a change in the roll of women in the workplace, and the treatment of minorities in the United States. New government policies affected consumers, businesses and farmers. Americans who did not serve in the armed forces were affected by the shortage of goods and accommodations. Government agencies controlled prices and created rationing to manage the economy and control inflation.
The government's encouragement of war production resulted in huge industrial productivity. Such a large industrial expansion contributed to an improvement in the economy. The unemployment rate dropped and the wages of many workers rose to record highs. During the War the government encouraged women to contribute to the war effort by joining the workforce.
(See Appendix A) Over the course of the war the total number of women workers rose to nineteen million. Many women entered jobs that were previously dominated by men. Women's help in the war effort greatly contributed to the victory of the Allies. World War II brought about many changes for members of America's minority groups. During the war approximately one million African Americans were in the military, half of which served in other countries. Back in the United States, African Americans were treated as second-class citizens.
Black organizations adopted the "Double V" slogan which symbolized victory over fascism and victory over racism in the United States. Some progress against racism towards African Americans was made during the War. Of all minority groups, Japanese Americans were affected the most during World War II. After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, many people feared that Japanese residents would sabotage against the United States. Under President Roosevelt's order, in 1942 about 110, 000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast, two-thirds being American citizens, were forced to leave their homes and move to inland camps confined by armed guards. (See Appendix B) Interestingly enough, such measures were not taken against immigrants from Germany and Italy, and also Hawaii, where Japanese Americans made up one-third of the population.
"For Japanese interned in detention camps and blacks denied many basic civil rights, the struggle for freedom is often focused on the United States rather than the battlefronts in Europe and Asia." (Bruno Leone, pg. 181) 6. Franklin D. Roosevelt struggled with the dilemma of isolationism vs. going to war. How does the book say he resolved this issue? President Roosevelt, like most Americans, believed a victory for the Axis powers would be disastrous to the United States.
However, Roosevelt proclaimed complete American neutrality in 1939. In 1940 the United States army contained only 270, 000 soldiers and officers. Because Roosevelt was afraid of isolationist opposition, he and General George C. Marshall hesitated to recommend a draft.
Grenville Clark, a corporate lawyer, argued for a system of compulsory military service. Influenced by Clark's work, Roosevelt and Marshall eventually acted in support of the draft. The draft law was passed in 1940. "I have not said it once, but many times, that I have seen war and that I hate war. I say that again and again.
I hope the United States will keep out of this War. I believe that it will. And I give you assurance and reassurance that every effort of your Government will be directed toward that end." (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bruno Leone, pg. 29) In this Radio address on September 3 rd, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for United States neutrality in the war in Europe.
However, in the proceeding two years Roosevelt was accused of risking American neutrality and of pursuing policies that would lead the United Stated into war. Hoping for the defeat of Germany while maintaining United States Neutrality, and forbidden by American neutrality laws to provide loans to Great Britain, President Roosevelt sought other ways to aid Great Britain. In December, Roosevelt and his advisors thought up the idea of "lend-lease." Under this proposal, the United States would lend military supplies to allied nations. On January 6 th, 1941, in his message to Congress, the United States would provide aid to countries fighting the Axis powers. In his message, Roosevelt defended that such aid would be necessary to defend freedoms in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Within his speech, Roosevelt talked about the "four freedoms." (Appendix C) Despite widespread opposition (See Appendix D), President Roosevelt's foreign policies were in effect.
In December of 1941, the United States formally entered the War. 7. Critique. "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" compared to the textbook "The Americans" is written in a very similar style.
Both books cover such Worlds War II topics as the pre-War isolationist movement in the United States and Roosevelt's policies before the United States officially entered the War. Although "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" is significantly larger than the chapters which cover World War II in "The Americans," each source contains topics the other does not extensively cover. The Holocaust is very well covered in "The Americans" but barely mentioned in "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints." The book "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" covers numerous topics dealing with the United States in World War II including women's role in the War which was not thoroughly covered in "The Americans." Both sources cover the effects the War had on the United States but "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" covers the subject more extensively and with greater detail as the book is made up mostly of a collection of speeches and statements during World War II. Also, "The Americans" is a textbook which covers the entire history of the United states. This justifies why it's coverage of World War II is much less extensive than that of "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints." The text in "The Americans" and "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" is quite similar in language and in tone. However, "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" includes in its text many speeches, statements, and letters which "The Americans" does not mention at all or briefly quotes.
An Argument that is very well covered in both books is the topic of isolationism vs. Roosevelt's foreign policy. Similar to "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints," On page 758 of "The Americans" an argument of whether it is justified to aid the allies or not is debated. "Let us say to the democracies, 'We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom...
We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, and guns. This is our purpose and our pledge." (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bruno Leone, pg. 52) This quote is excerpted from Roosevelt's speech to congress on January 6 th, 1941. It is used in "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" to introduce a chapter about why the United States should aid the Allies. "This nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that ever American remain neutral in thought as well...
Even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or his conscience... I have said not once, but many times, that I have seen war and that I hate war... As long as it is my power to prevent, there will be no blackout of peace in the U. S." (McDougal Littell, pg.
756) This excerpt from Roosevelt's radio speech is used to introduce a section that describes the United States moving cautiously away from neutrality. This quote is also used in "World War II: Opposing Viewpoints" to introduce a similar section. Both books quote Roosevelt numerous times to show the monumentality of Roosevelt's role in World War II.