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America goes to war

Discussion in 'History of America during World War II' started by Jim, Dec 16, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    All through the 1930s, the United States had struggled to free itself from the Depression. Despite the suffering and hardship of war, the country welcomed the boost that defence spending gave to the economy.

    IN 1939, when war broke out in Europe, most Americans favoured neutrality for their country. The United States was unprepared for war at this time, possessing only a small and ill-equipped volunteer army. By the summer of 1940, however, Americans were facing the disquieting fact that Hitler was master of Europe. President Roosevelt, determined to help embattled Britain and her allies, pressed for congressional action. In September the Selective Service Act was passed, introducing the first peacetime draft in American history. The Lend Lease programme was also approved to make aid to Britain easier. And on December 30, 1940, families tuning in to their radios heard the President declare that the United States must become the arsenal of democracy.
    Japan's surprise attack on the US base at Pearl Harbour destroyed the last vestiges of isolationist feeling, and American industry now turned to full-scale war production. From 1941 to 1945 the USA was to build over 250,000 aircraft, almost 90,000 tanks, 350 destroyers and 200 submarines. Assembly lines were moving round the clock to make weaponry; by 1944 the United States was producing more than 40 per cent of the world's arms.
    The achievements of industrialist Henry Kaiser in particular are remembered. For it was he who pioneered the revolutionary techniques of prefabrication and assembly that sent 597 identical liberty ships rolling down the slipways. In order to keep the flow of supplies across the Atlantic going, these freighters had to be built faster than German V-boats could sink them. Using standardised designs and ready-made sections, Kaiser was able to cut the average work time on a liberty ship from 200 days to 42 days.
    There were more innovations besides. At a plant in Connecticut, Igor Sikorsky opened the world's first helicopter assembly line. And colossal federal funds were poured into the development of an atomic bomb at secret plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. This immense awakening of American industry ended the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployed men in their millions were drawn into the national effort, and the working week was increased from 40 to 48 hours.

    Female Touch: Rosie the Riveter

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    With the armed forces siphoning off multitudes for combat, 6 million American women were added to the labour force. The Government encouraged the trend with posters urging women to 'Do the job HE left behind'. The archetypal working woman, wearing overalls and bandanna, was celebrated in the propaganda figure of 'Rosie the Riveter', a new national heroine portrayed in cartoons and in song for doing her patriotic bit in war production. There was even a movie, Rosie the Riveter (1944), which starred the glamorous B-movie star Jane Frazee.
    By the standards of other countries involved in the fighting, American women were already well on their way to establishing the principle of female equality. The 200,000 who joined the armed services in World War II received equal pay. The money was good enough to trigger a huge migration of country and small-town girls towards defence plants and large
    urban centres, their numbers swollen by the movement of wives and girlfriends keen to stay close to their men at military camps.


    Four Freedoms: This Classic Poster from wartime America shows four paintings by the artist Norman Rockwell, all celebrating democratic and patriotic values as experienced in small-town American life.

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    Writer James Jones has recalled the atmosphere of 'wild gaiety and rollicking despair' that characterised the towns and cities near the camps and war factories. His own hang-out was a once-chic hotel called the Pea body in downtown Memphis: “The great influx of servicemen had taken it over from the local gentry, and at just about any time of the day or night there were always between half a dozen and a dozen wide-open drinking parties going on in the rooms and suites.”
    The moral laxity that resulted prompted the authorities at some war factories to hire “Dorothy Dixes” - matronly figures whose job was to minimise work-time liaisons and to serve as counsellors for girls who were facing personal problems. Some commentators feared for the survival of the American family unit, as people spoke increasingly of the 'latchkey kids' left to fend for themselves while “Mom” was off on the assembly line.
    Yet families did survive, and despite the exhaustion of working a 48-hour week there were some new comforts. War factories introduced piped music, for example, and coffee breaks. A salesgirl at a department store found that she could double or even treble her pay by switching to an aircraft plant. By 1944 the signs of booming prosperity were all about, and sales of luxury goods such as fur coats and jewellery were flourishing. Restaurants were packed though customers had to wait interminably for their meals because there were too few employees serving at the tables.
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Advances on the home front

    American blacks had at first been denied jobs in the country's bustling defence works, and the war exposed some examples of prejudice at work. There was an occasion when black GIs, escorting German prisoners of war through the South, were refused service on railroad dining cars while their white prisoners were admitted and allowed to eat. None the less, American blacks supported the struggle against Nazism. Joe Louis, the world heavyweight boxing champion, told reporters: 'There may be a lot wrong in America, but there is nothing Hitler can fix.' And pressure from civil rights activists was to lead to some real advances.

    Fighting Men: Joe Louis (left) meets a fellow boxer, war veteran Private Woodrow White.

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    For example, legislation in 1941 guaranteed blacks the jobs earlier denied in defence plants, and the number of blacks on the government payroll was to double by 1945. And the wages earned by black workers rose substantially in real terms (although, on average, their pay was still only 40 to 60 per cent of what white workers were receiving).
    Altogether, the war had a hugely stimulating effect on the US economy. For ordinary, people, it meant that wallets and purses were fatter than they had been for years - even if the goods were in short supply. Wartime advertisers coped with this paradox by keeping brand names in the public eye.
    Disappointed customers were told, for example, that Lucky Strike green had 'gone to war': that the manufacturers had been forced to withdraw the colour green from its packaging because the green ink had a metallic base used in aircraft production. In much the same spirit, the makers of a famous confectionery told consumers: 'If your dealer doesn't have your favourite Life Savers flavour, please be patient ... It is because the shipment he would have received would have gone to the Army and Navy.'
    A more aggressive note was struck by an advertisement boasting that because bomber crews had to have their intake of Vitamin C, 'maybe your canned Florida Grapefruit Juice is OVER NAZI ROOFTOPS TONIGHT!' Production of Coca-Cola and Wrigley's chewing gum soared during the war, even though the manufacturers made negligible profits in the short term because they were supplying their products at a cut-price rate to the armed forces. The same was true of cigarettes: annual output soared from about 19 billion in 1940 to roughly double that number in the post-war period. The popular brands - Chesterfield, Camel, Lucky Strike and so on - were hard to obtain on the home front, however, because vast quantities were being issued to troops overseas.
    Paperback publishing came of age during the war years. 'Pocket Books' were sold in drug stores and on newsstands for 25 cents each. They were soon joined by rivals from Avon, Popular Library, Dell and Bantam - all fitting snugly in the hand and sold at a modest price. Pocket Books could be left behind by servicemen or war workers moving from one place to another; or mailed to loved ones abroad.
    Avon advertised: 'Because the new Avon books are easy to open, light to hold, thrilling to read and compact to carry or store in clothing or bags, they are ideal gifts to boys in the Armed Forces. Dell countered with, BOOKS ARE WEAPONS - in a free democracy everyone may read what he likes, while Pocket Books urged its readers to share this book with someone in uniform. To keep the troops entertained, people also donated paperbacks to victory book rallies nationwide.

    High Flyer: A huge flag hangs between crowded tenements in New York City's Lower East Side, honouring local boys who were serving in the armed forces.

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    Madison A venue, the heart of the American advertising trade, used every possible opportunity to sell products through war themes. One colourful magazine page, for example, showed a GI responding with delight to a letter from his wife: It's a boy and he's thriving on Carnation.â€￾ A host of other advertisements were directed at wives and girlfriends on the home front, playing on the theme of being 'lovely to come home to'. A famous soap brand, for example, suggested, 'to guard the loveliness he loves, use Palmolive.'
     
  3. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    HAVE A COKE', 'The Pause that Refreshes' Catch phrases such as these kept the name of America's number-one soft drink before the public throughout World War Ho Despite the impact of sugar rationing, Coca-Cola managed to make itself one of the most widely distributed products of wartime.
    The success of the five-cent drink was chiefly the work of top executive Robert J Woodruff, who persuaded the army and navy, early in the war, that his refreshing non-alcoholic beverage perfectly matched the needs of America's fighting men.

    Chocolate goes to war: Tons of cocoa were consumed daily by the American armed forces, leaving little for civilians on the home front. Advertisements like this kept brand names in view even when supplies were unavailable.

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    Coca-Cola followed the flag, travelling with the troops all over the world. And so did the manufacturing plants, which were set up as far a field as Australia. By 1945 the firm's advertisements could boast: 'Our fighting men meet up with Coca-Cola many places overseas, where it's bottled on the spot.' The operation was costly, but the whole world got a taste for the drink that added 'life and sparkle to living', and in the decade after the war Coca-Cola would experience an astonishing global expansion.
    Philip K. Wrigley achieved similar results for his chewing-gum firm. So skilfully did he persuade the authorities that chewing gum was an essential 'war material' that, at the request of the army, he supplied a stick of gum for every pack of 'K' or combat rations. His firm even took over the rations packing.
    The gum, it was said, helped to relieve the Gls' thirst; it also relieved tension at times when tobacco smoking was banned; and even helped to keep their teeth clean. Wrigley also supplied gum to war workers in arms factories, convincing bosses that chewing gum meant fewer trips to the water fountain or the smoking area.


    International event: By 1945, when this advertisement appeared, Coca-Cola had been introduced to servicemen of many nations.

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    Did you know?

    In 1942, when Civil Defense preparations were at their height, America's best-selling book was the official Red Cross handbook on first aid. It sold more than 8 million copies - though it never appeared in the best-seller lists, being classified as a pamphlet
     
  4. eireann

    eireann New Member

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    The American war effort during WWII was really great. It was a time when people came together for a just cause, trying to help each other out. I'm talking about the American people - it really was a period in time where people learned what it really means to be patriotic, and serving the country. Although many posters were probably a result of a "propaganda" effort (that word just gives out a bad connotation) the way the people handled the war was impressive.
     
  5. krrish

    krrish New Member

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    Direct involvement of US in world war II brought a complete change in the war scene.Japan's attack at Pearl Harbour forced US to jump to the war.And its US who dropped two Atom Bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, that forced Japan to surrender & then world war II came to an end.
     
  6. warhistory

    warhistory New Member

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    Problem faced mainly by americans

    There were many problem which Americans had faced in WW2, some of them are related to food, diseases, unhygienic environment, which cause death.
     

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