Why did the United States enter World War ii?

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US History

World War II


Why did the United States enter World War II?

  • America tried to stay neutral, yet in the face of impending war we slowly become more involved. Long before we entered the war FDR said this:

  • Innocent peoples are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy...Let no one imagine that America will escape...There is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality...War is a contagion, whether it be declared or not. It seems unfortunately true that the epidemic of lawlessness is spreading. When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease. I call today for a similar quarantine. A quarantine of the lawless, a quarantine of those that threaten world peace. --Franklin Delano Roosevelt, The Quarantine Speech, 10/5/37

What pulls the US out of the Depression?

  • World War II pulls the US out of the Depression.

Why or How?

  • War creates lots of jobs.

WWII starts in 1939 when Hitler (Germany) invades Poland.

  • British and French declare war on Germany.

  • The two sides of the war were the Allies and the Axis

  • The US did not enter the war at this time.

The Lend-Lease Act—the US provides arms, planes, tanks and/or money to the Allies—
Allies Axis

Great Britain Germany (Hitler)

France Italy (Mussolini)

USA Japan

Soviet Union

War Bonds- Helped fund the war

  • Way to allocate scarce foods

  • Included—meat, butter, sugar, coffee, shoes, gasoline

  • Stamps & points system

  • Black market emerged

Rationing led to people saving money which led to a booming economy.

The Japanese want to take over new land for raw materials and new markets. (Japanese Imperialism).
On December 7, 1941 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in the US Hawaiian Islands.

  • US declares war on Japan in 1941. Germany and Italy declared war on the US.

  • From 1941 to 1944, the US focused its troops in the Pacific theater (US vs. Japan) and prepared for D-Day, and building a secret weapon (Atomic bomb).

  • The US fought Japan by “island hopping’—one island at a time getting closer and closer to Japan. Some of the islands were Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

  • Japan would not surrender. The US began to bomb every major city, but Japan still did not surrender.

  • The US is left with 2 choices:

  1. Invade Japan and lose approximately one million soldiers

  2. Drop the Atomic bomb on Japan.

Atomic Bomb

  • The US (President Harry Truman) decides to drop the atomic bomb. It will kill thousands of Japanese civilians, but no American deaths.

  • The first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, but Japan still did not surrender. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

  • Japan surrenders on September 2, 1945.

D-Day—June 6, 1944.

  • The US and Britain stormed Normandy in France to fight the Germans. The Brits and US defeat the Germans.

  • The war ends in Europe with Germany’s surrender in March 1945.

Japanese during Wartime

To what extent is it acceptable for the government to limit civil liberties in time of war?

  • During WWII many Americans felt that the Japanese might attack the West Coast of the United States.

  • As a result of that fear the United States excluded all those of Japanese ancestry from living on the west coast. Over 120,000 people were imprisoned in internment camps 70,000 thousand of them were US citizens.

Korematsu v. United States

  • Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American forced to move to one of these camps, challenged the government.—Did the government have the right and the power to do away with due process in time of war?

  • Court upheld law, ruled there was a legitimate danger to national security (clear and present danger).

  • 20 years later Japanese Americans win a partial compensation as Congress officially apologizes. v United States

United Nations

  • The wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union was temporary

  • As the end of the war approached, relations grew increasingly tense

  • In 1945, Roosevelt met with Stalin and Churchill at Yalta.

  • They leaders all agreed on the creation of the United Nations (UN), a new international peacekeeping organization.

  • The League of Nations, founded after World War I, had failed largely because the United States refused to join.

  • In April 1945 delegates from 50 nations met in San Francisco to adopt a charter, or statement of principles for the UN. Members would try to settle their differences peacefully and vowed to try to stop wars.

Nuremberg Trials

  • Held for the purpose of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. A series of 13 trials were carried out in Nuremberg, Germany, between 1945 and 1949.

  • The defendants, who included Nazi Party officials and high-ranking military officers along with German industrialists, lawyers and doctors, were indicted on such charges as crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.

  • This set a precedent that individuals are responsible for their wartime actions.

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