17.1 Mobilizing for Defense
How did the U.S. get involved and
join the war effort?
Plans for War
• In August 1941, FDR met secretly with
Churchill; he did not commit the U.S. to
war, but he and Churchill did sign the
Atlantic Charter , a statement of goals for
fighting WWII
• Later, 26 nations signed a similar
agreement; these nations were known as
the Allies, united in fighting Germany, Italy,
and Japan
• In Sept. of 1941, a German U-boat fired on
an American merchant ship; FDR then
ordered the Navy to fire upon German
ships, and U-boats responded by sinking
several American ships
• The Senate finally allowed the arming of
merchant ships
Japan Attacks the U.S.
• In Japan, expansionists had long dreamed of
creating a huge empire; it began by seizing
Asian territory held as colonies by European
• When Japan invaded Indochina, the U.S. cut off
trade with Japan
• Japan needed American oil to function
• The new prime minister of Japan was a militant
general named Hideki Tojo
• He started peace talks with the U.S. while still
preparing for war
• The U.S. broke Japan’s secret communications
code and knew Japan was preparing for a
military strike but did not know details
• On December 7, 1941, during the peace talks,
Japan attacked the main U.S. naval base at
Pearl Harbor in Hawaii
• The Japanese crippled the U.S. Pacific fleet in
one blow
• Over 2400 people were killed
• FDR did not want to fight a war on two
fronts; he had expected fighting in Europe,
not Asia
• On December 8, he addressed Congress
asking for a declaration of war against
• They agreed, and caused Germany and
Italy to declare war on the U.S.
Americans Join the War Effort
• The Japanese expected Americans to
react with fear and despair; instead, they
reacted with rage
• “Remember Pearl Harbor” became a
rallying cry; five million men volunteered
for military service
• Another ten million were drafted
• New soldiers received eight weeks of
basic training and known as “GIs”
• To free more men for combat, the Army
Chief of Staff George Marshall suggested
using women for noncombat military tasks
• Congress created the Women’s Auxiliary
Army Corps (WAAC) in 1942; about
25,000 women served in the military
• Minority service was segregated, and
African Americans did not even see
combat until the last year of the war
A Production Miracle
• The nation’s factories quickly switched to war
• About 18 million workers kept these war
industries going; 6 million new workers were
women paid at 60 % as much as men
• A. Phillip Randolph, an African American labor
leader, got FDR to issue an executive order to
end discrimination in defense industries
• The government hired scientists to develop new
weapons and medicines, such as radar, sonar, and
• The government also set up the Manhattan Project,
which developed the atomic bomb
• The Office of Price Administration (OPA) fought inflation
by freezing prices on most goods
• Taxes were raised, and the War Production Board (WPB)
decided who would make war materials
• Rationing was set up using coupons for scarce items
and bought war bonds to support the war effort

17.1 Mobilizing for Defense - Clayton Valley Charter High School