World War Ii Essay, Research Paper
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the United States immediately shifted into a country which had the task of producing war goods not only for itself, but for the Allied powers – namely Britain. During the course of World War II, people s lives revolved around the war effort; the men went to fight, the women ran the plants, and kids set up their scrap yards. The options available to women and minorities grew, though popular attitudes were still oppressive. The American economy was also shifted from a predominantly free economy, to a heavily regulated one, in order to meet FDR s war production deadlines. Overall, the war was responsible for providing people with jobs, and things to do in their spare time as well as allowing he government to regulate everything in their lives, including how much food they could eat. World War II was won because of a huge effort and high morale within the American people. With World War II steaming at full speed on two fronts, the regular peace time work force was in uniform. This meant that women would have to step up and man the factories necessary to produce war goods. Although women now controlled a large percentage of the industrial jobs, popular opinion was still behind the belief that when the war was won, women would return to the home and give their husbands their jobs back. The women running the factories were still limited to the lower end jobs, and not allowed to attend graduate schools. While the role of women in society during the war increased, attitudes towards women were still generally oppressive. This was the same for minorities, especially African Americans. In 1943, the Federal Government hiring of blacks rose from 60,000 people to 200,000. While the government tried to narrow the racial gap, the popular consensus was still negative towards blacks. When public housing was built in Detroit, massive riots were sparked; proving that nothing had changed. Throughout the whole war effort, the government changed its attitudes towards women and minorities, but the general public and corporations were still biased and racist. The methods that Americans used to participate in the war when they could not be on the front lines were many. Handicapped and deaf workers now found that they could be used in factories where there was a deafening noise, or when their physical disabilities came in handy (such as dwarfs). Men who were not able to join the Army were now responsible for the defense of cities by manning the air raid sirens, and organizing junk drives. These scrap drives were also a way for children to participate in the war effort. During the war, the resourcefulness of these people helped to save millions of tires, and tons of metals such as precious aluminum. People also enjoyed planting and cultivating their “liberty gardens” and thus saving 8 million tons of food in 1943. This willingness to help America no matter what the task may be was undoubtedly a huge asset to the war effort, and it also instilled people with a great sense of patriotism because after all, it was the least they could do to help those who were putting their lives on the line.
Most importantly, the American government played a huge role in how the American economy worked during the years of World War II. Almost instantly after Pearl Harbor, FDR proposed plans to re-tool and change automobile and locomotive factories into places were airplanes and tanks could be mass produced on an assembly line. With this plan in mind, the War Production Board (WPB) was established to oversee this changed from commercial to military goods. Civilian products would just be simply put on hold until war s end. Big Business was able to profit through this because the government was buying raw materials to meet their huge production demands. In order to finance this huge effort, war bonds were sold and advertised on posters everywhere in a series of patriotic messages. Although bonds sold with great success, it could not solely pay for the war. Treasury Secretary Morgantheau proposed taxes on luxury items, estates, and war goods as well as introducing a new income tax which automatically deduced the government s cut from the worker s paycheck. As if that was not enough, the government also set out to swiftly settle labor disputes. The War Labor Board (WLB) now had the authority to arbitrate any labor dispute with whatever means it saw fit. The Smith Connolly Act of 1943 gave President Roosevelt the authority to seize important war plant racked by strikes. Thought FDR s aforementioned economic practices crossed the vague line of the free American enterprise system, they were vital in meeting the production schedules fabricated by FDR and Winston Churchill at the start of World War II. BY taking control of the manufacturing, production, financing, and labor aspects of the economy the government was virtually unstoppable in it s ability to meet the demands of a two front war. Overall, American society was transformed into a group of millions of people with one goal. That goal was to meet the war. Age, disability, racial (except for the Japanese issue), and gender barriers were put aside by the government in order to win the war, while that very government was neck deep in its involvement in war production and economy. But while the government may have set aside these differences, public opinions still resented women and minorities in the workplace. When the men came home from war, women went back to the home while minority groups were still where they were at the start of World War II. The war took a great effort, and with government intervention and the unfettered support of the American people it was a successful effort.