Chapter 12 America and wwii, 1941-1945 Lesson 1, Wartime America

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Chapter 12 - America and WWII, 1941-1945

Lesson 1, Wartime America
Essential Question: What kinds of sacrifices does war require?

Disenfranchise - to deprive the right to vote

Cost-plus - a government contract to pay a manufacturer the cost to produce an item plus a guaranteed percentage

Sunbelt - the area in the south stretching from coast to coast where the new factories were located. People relocated to the sunbelt for jobs.

zoot suit vs. victory suit - Zoot suit was baggy, large lapels, vests (more fabric), victory suits were tailored (less fabric). Racial riots broke out in L.A. between Mexican Americans wearing zoot suits and sailors “Zoot Suit Riot”

Internment - the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial

Main Ideas/Questions

I. What roles did minorities and women play in the armed forces during World War II?

African Americans: millions entered workforce; enlisted in military and served as nurses, pilots, and administrative workers; moved North to take jobs

Native Americans: fought in combat; faced racial tensions

Hispanic Americans: many fought in war; hundreds of thousands of Mexicans came to work on farms

Japanese Americans: some fought in war; many from the West Coast sent to internment camps

To varying degrees, they received more and new roles. African Americans and Japanese Americans increasingly served in combat, Native Americans served in combat and Navajo “code talkers” became crucial to transmitting messages in the Pacific, many Mexican Americans who had joined the National Guard served on the front lines, and women delivered planes, served as army and navy nurses, and enlisted in new corps including WAAC and WAC.

II. How did the U.S. government mobilize, or prepare, the economy for war?

Roosevelt set up a committee to encourage companies to convert to wartime production. The government began buying goods using the cost-plus system to encourage companies to convert to wartime production, and Congress authorized loans to companies that wanted to convert to making war goods.

III. What changes did women and minorities experience as a result of economic mobilization during WWII?

The need for workers caused employers to hire women and minorities when they normally would have hired white males. Women and African Americans took jobs in wartime production, and many Mexicans came to the United States as farmworkers.

IV.How did the wartime relocation (voluntary and involuntary) of many Americans affect U.S. government and society?

People voluntarily moving to take jobs in war industries made the Sunbelt a booming region. Those moved forcibly, such as interned Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans, reflected new powers of the federal government to assert control over people and places in the name of military security.

V. What steps did the government take to stabilize wages and prices, and assure there were enough supplies for military use?
The OPA required households to use rationing coupons, which put a limit on the purchase of food and gasoline. They also restricted driving distances and speed limits for vehicles.

Use the notes that you completed during the lesson to evaluate which groups benefited from the war and which groups did not benefit, and HOW they did so.


Women in the military were barred from combat, but they held administrative, clerical, and medical jobs in the military, which meant that more men were available for combat. Some women were volunteer domestic pilots and factory workers.
African Americans received limited benefits. They fought for “Double V”. African Americans still served in segregated units, but they were able to rise in rank. They organized in order to work in government and defense jobs. Civil rights for African Americans still had a long way to go.


Japanese Americans were forced to move to internment camps. Germans and Italians who did not have American citizenship had to do the same.

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