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Explain the important domestic events that took place during the war

Topics on the Page
WPA US World War II homefront poster, 1942
WPA US World War II homefront poster, 1942

Overview of the Homefront during World War II
  • Zoot Suit Riots
a. War inspired economic growth helping to end the Great Depression

b. A. Philip Randolph and the efforts to eliminate employment discrimination
  • The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

c. The entry of large numbers of women into the workforce

d. The internment of West Coast Japanese-Americans in the U.S. and Canada
  • Legal Cases
    • Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution
      • Italian-American Internment

Other Topics
  • World War II Propaganda Posters
    • The Election of 1944

Map_of_USA_MA.svg.pngFor more, see AP United States History 22

Focus Question: What important domestic events took place during World War II?

While Europe and the Pacific were ravaged by combat, important events were taking place on American soil.
  • The bombing of Pearl Harbor and subsequent entry of the U.S. into war reinvigorated the country's economy and brought it out of depression. New industries funded by massive military contracts were born, providing millions of jobs at higher wages.
    • While men fought overseas, women stepped into new roles and began to work outside the home, often in traditionally male-dominated industries.
      • Through the efforts of A. Phillip Randolph, working class black Americans also benefited from new employment opportunities. Randolph organized African-Americans, created a union among sleeping car porters, and successfully pressured lawmakers to end discrimination in the national defense industry.
        • One group of Americans who did not find favor during the war were Japanese-Americans. Fueled by public fear of espionage and xenophobia, FDR issued an order to collect and preemptively relocate Japanese-Americans into camps throughout the country. For four years, 120,000 Japanese-Americans were forced to leave in bleak conditions, in blatant disregard of Constitutional rights.

primary_sources.PNGStudent Voices from World War II and the McCarthy Era.

external image Red_apple.jpg

timeline2_rus.svg.pngTimeline of Important Events on the Home Front

Multimedia.pngCrash Course: The Home Front and meaning of the war

Zoot Suit Riots

Zoot Suit Riots were clashes between White soldiers and Latino youths in Los Angeles in 1943.

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 11.16.22 AM.pngLyrics to the song Zoot Suit Riots by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies

primary_sources.PNGThe 1940s: Sleepy Lagoon and the Zoot Suit Riots

Rural school children in front of World War II homefront posters, 1943
Rural school children in front of World War II homefront posters, 1943
A. War Inspired Economic Growth and the End of the Great Depression

rotating gif.gifSee also United States History II.11

The 1930s brought about economic depression in the United States. The stock market crash of 1929 and the economic depression brought extensive unemployment, reaching up to 25 percent by early 1933.

Most other workers, at the very least, experienced pay cuts. President Herbert Hoover, who served during the early years of the Depression (1929–33), took a hands-off approach. As economic conditions worsened, Americans no longer supported Hoover.

Franklin Roosevelt was elected President in 1932 and when he took office in early 1933 he brought in a massive program called the New Deal, which consisted of social and economic recovery programs.

Each of President Roosevelt's programs had its individual success. These programs regulated wages, prices, which helped families get a steady income and buy things they needed. Other programs employed people as conservation workers, artists, writers, and laborers. Social Security was introduced to help some of the elderly who could no longer work and whose savings were gone.

Although these programs assisted individuals greatly, it did not eliminate the problem of the economic downturn the Great Depression had created.

Multimedia.pngClick for a "Crash Course" in the New Deal

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 12.30.24 PM.pngNew Deal Lesson Plan
  • Debate: Was the New Deal a success or not?
  • Involves group work as well as a whole class discussion
  • Includes primary sources to analyze before the activity

Freedom from Fear by Norman Rockwell

primary_sources.PNGFor a look at more primary documents from the Depression, see Archives in the Attic: Documents of the Great Depression.

Freedom from Fear is a 1943 painting by Norman Rockwell as part of his "Four Freedoms" series. The Four Freedoms (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear) were coined by FDR, and were even incorporated into the Atlantic Charter!

In September 1939, another world war erupted in Europe. This new global war would pit the Allies (United States, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union) against the Axis powers (Germany, Japan, and Italy).

After the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II. The U.S. entry into the war started a full industrial mobilization effort in 1942.

Industrial mobilization involves the manufacture of massive amounts of war goods, including ships, tanks, arms, ammunition, and warplanes.

Roosevelt, who had strong differences with business interests, had to seek cooperation from businesses for the war mobilization effort.

As a result, many policies and programs introduced by Roosevelt to combat the effects of the Great Depression, including regulation of industry, would come to an end.

Funded by massive military contracts, industry provided millions of new jobs and wages were higher than the pay offered during the hard times of the Great Depression. The increase in jobs and pay finally brought the Great Depression to a close. With increased military spending for the production of war materials and other goods, enthusiasm over the economy returned to the general populace.[1]

primary_sources.PNGThis New York Times article compares America's economy at the time of WWII to America's economy today. An interesting read, it analyzes the validity of the theory of military spending ending economic downturns. Read it here

primary_sources.PNGWorld War II Rationing on the U. S. Homefront
This graph shows unemployment in the US.  The unemployment level drops signficantly with WWII
This graph shows unemployment in the US. The unemployment level drops signficantly with WWII

B. A. Philip Randolph and the efforts to eliminate employment discrimination

A. Philip Randolph
A. Philip Randolph

Multimedia.pngClick here for a 2 minute biographical video on A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph was a black civil rights and labor movement leader, a founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters , and later a key figure in the civil rights movement.

Randolph believed that the key to black progress rested in the black working class and the ability to organize and protest.

Throughout most of his life, Randolph worked to aid the black working class and fought to end discrimination in the workplace. A member of the Socialist Party, Randolph made several unsuccessful attempts to be elected to political office in New York.

primary_sources.PNGClick here for an oral history interview with A. Philip Randolph from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.

Randolph saw the need for the organization of black workers, and in 1925 he established the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP).
  • Many affiliates of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) barred blacks from affiliation and membership, so Randolph took his union into the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), a federation of unions that supported African-American membership.
    • The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was the first African American union to sign a collective bargaining agreement with a major U.S. corporation

Image to the right is a sleeping car porter employeed by the Pullman Company at Union Station in Chicago, Illinois (January 1943)

external image PullmanPorter.jpg
Multimedia.pngFor a brief documentary on A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters, click here

The Evolution and History of the Union from the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum.

primary_sources.PNGThe Call to Negro America to March on Washington, 1941
After the successful negotiation of the porters contract, in 1938, Randolph put pressure on President Franklin Roosevelt to end discrimination in federal government employment.
  • After threatening to organize a March on Washington in June, 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 on 25th June, 1941, barring discrimination in defense industries and federal bureaus (the Fair Employment Act).

primary_sources.PNG"Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?" by Langston Hughes is a powerful statement by the African American author and poet.

lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan comparing Randolph to Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois.

Click here to read stories and view pictures depicting the African American World War II experience
  • Lots of African Americans felt as though the Civil Rights Movement lost significant progress since the entire country's attention shifted to war mobilization

Rosie the Riveter

Female_Rose.pngC. Women in the Workforce

When the United States entered WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the country's social, economic and industrial landscape changed. Very quickly, auto factories were converted into aircraft plants and new factories were built.
  • As the men were drafted into combat, women began to enter into regions of the work force that were traditionally restricted to men. Soon, housewives and young daughters answered the national call to drop their aprons and pick up their toolboxes to support their country.

  • The "Rosie the Riveter" icon served a very important role in mobilizing women into the work force during this time. Women before the war were seen as homeworkers and housewives. The ideal American woman in the prewar years was not at all prepared to participate in the war effort or serve as an icon for women entering male-dominated jobs.

  • The prewar image would have to change to successfully recruit women into the workforce. Rationally, it would be safe to say that "Rosie the Riveter" was born out of necessity, even if it was propaganda. Themes of patriotism and glamor were used to appeal to these women who were to take the place of their men who were defending democracy. Taking a war job was not seen as a choice; it was simply a patriotic duty.[3]

Multimedia.pngprimary_sources.PNGWomen who went to work in the factories during the war were referred to as "Rosies".
  • Click here for an Ellen Degeneres interview with a 93 year-old woman who has worked in a munitions factory since WWII and talks about her experiences entering a "man's job"

Rotating_globe-small.gifRead about how women of different races were affected in different ways in the workplace during WWII, here
Multimedia.pngClick here to listen to the song "Rosie the Riveter" by The Four Vagabonds.
Hedy Lamarr from the film Come Live with Me, 1941
Hedy Lamarr from the film Come Live with Me, 1941

Female_Rose.pngFor more,

See Historical Biography page on Hedy Lamarr, Actress and Inventor
  • An interesting addition to the list is the Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, who is also recognized as a female Inventor for her work on a torpedo guidance system that was used successfully by the American military.

Women at work in an aluminum factory making ammunition, 1942
Women at work in an aluminum factory making ammunition, 1942

  • An article about an African-American Women's Army unit.
  • Click here for information on African American women and their roles in the workplace and military during WWII.
  • A recruitment video for a Curtiss - Wright Factory, calling for women to join the workforce.
  • Click here for information on how Rosie the Riveter influenced pop culture, including a section on Marilyn Monroe and her contribution to the war effort.

lessonplan.jpgClick here for the lesson plan, "Beyond Rosie the Riveter: Women's Contributions During WWII"

A Rosie is a Rosie is a Rosie
  • Read about both popular and unpopular portrayals and propaganda posters of Rosie the Riveter from all around the world!
external image Map_of_World_War_II_Japanese_American_internment_camps.jpg

D. Japanese Internment

After the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which ordered the removal of 120,000 Japanese-Americans to one of 10 internment camps.

primary_sources.PNGExecutive Order 9066

Roosevelt's executive order was fueled by anti-Japanese feelings among politicians and many among the general public politicians who feared espionage.
  • The camps were officially called "relocation centers" and were located in California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, and Arkansas.
    • Over 50% of those interned were children.

The military bypassed constitutional safeguards of American citizens in the name of national defense.
  • "Relocation" consisted of the mass evacuation and detention of Japanese Americans, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens.

People were detained for up to four years, without due process of law or any factual basis. T
  • hey were forced to live in bleak, remote camps behind barbed wire and under the surveillance of armed guards.
    • Japanese American internment raised questions about the rights of American citizens as embodied in the first ten amendments to the Constitution.

click here for explanation as well as first hand accounts from Japanese Americans multicultural.png

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 1.41.57 PM.pngTwo important legal cases were brought against the United States concerning Japanese internment.

primary_sources.PNGHirabayashi v. United States (1943 ) and Korematsu v. United States (1944)
  • The defendants argued their Fifth Amendment rights were violated by the U.S. government due to the fact that they were citizens. In both cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the U.S. government due to military necessity. Ten Americans were ultimately convicted of spying for the Japanese, and they were all Caucasian.
    • In 1944, two years after signing Executive Order 9066, President Roosevelt revoked the order. The last internment camp was closed by the end of 1945.

No official apology came from the United States government until The Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Letter from President George Bush to Japanese internees

Farm workers, Manzanar Relocation Center., Ansel Adams Photograph, 1943
Farm workers, Manzanar Relocation Center., Ansel Adams Photograph, 1943

Multimedia.pngA More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & the U.S. Constitution from the Smithsonian Museum of American History that uses images, music and text to explore the experience of citizens placed in detention camps during World War II.

external image Red_apple.jpgLesson Plans from the Mananzar Nat'l Historic Site.Focuses on the experiences at one of the primary internment camps.

Multimedia.pngprimary_sources.PNGChildren of the Camps is a PBS documentary (and accompanying website) about the experiences of six Japanese-Americans who were detained as children.

Multimedia.pngDensho: The Japanese American Legacy Project offers multimedia materials including a slideshow and videos as well as oral histories from Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II.

Multimedia.pngClick here for a short video from the US government explaining the decision to create internment camps

primary_sources.PNGexternal image Red_apple.jpgThe Internment Diary of Toyojiro Suzuki from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Multimedia.pngA collection of Ansel Adams' photographs showing life in a Japanese Internment camp.

womens history.jpgRead about the experiences in the internment camps of a now 87 year-old woman in this article

Google Doodle January 30, 2017
Google Doodle January 30, 2017

Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu
Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu

Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution

Fred Koresmatsu Day
  • Enacted in California in 2010
    • First state-wide day in the United States named after an Asian American
    • Hawaii, Virginia and Florida have also passed laws honoring Fred Korematsu to perpetuity

It's Fred Korematsu Day: Celebrating a Foe of U.S. Internment Camps, NPR (January 30, 2017)

Honoring a Japanese-American Who Fought Against Internment Camps

Italian-American Internment

Rotating_globe-small.gifIn August 2010, the state of California formally expressed regret for the internment of some 600,000 Italian Americans during World War II.
  • The 1942 “Alien Enemies Act” labeled all non-citizen Italian-Americans and their families as “enemy aliens” who were subject to a seizure of property, a mandatory curfew, restricted areas that they could not enter, and a mandate to carry identification cards at all times.

Click here to read more about Italian-American internment from the Italian Historical Society of America

multicultural.pngA little known fact, Canada also interned Italian-Canadian males in 26 different internment camps throughout the country. Read more about the experiences of those interned, here

See Brief Overview of the World War II Enemy Alien Control Program from the National Archives

World War II Propaganda Posters

At the start of WWII, Americans did not want to become involved. However, the government felt that the US would become involved eventually and started creating pro-war propaganda so people would support involvement.
  • Propaganda included radio announcements, but the most popular form was posters.
  • Before Pearl Harbor, it did not have a great impact. Once Pearl Harbor was bombed, the pro-war propaganda increased even more.
  • Americans responded more to this propaganda because the war seemed closer to home.
    • The posters aimed to increase enlistment, women in the workplace, rationing, and other important topics relating to the war.
    • Many of these propaganda materials used overtly racist appeals to rally support for the war effort.

Wikimedia Commons has a excellent collection of propaganda posters under the heading World War II Home Front in the United States.

Multimedia.pngClick here for the National Archives page "Powers of Persuasion"


Multimedia.pngClick here for a collection of propaganda posters from Northwestern

  • Click here for a lesson plan from History Detectives on WWII propaganda
    • Click here for a lesson plan on analyzing propaganda

Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 10.27.35 AM.pngKid's Corner Interactive Website
  • Make your own propaganda poster, do a puzzle, complete a word search, and more!

Election of 1944
Election of 1944

The Election of 1944

Map Key: Red States were won by Republican Thomas Dewey; Gray States by President Franklin Roosevelt

This was FDR's fourth election for President. The Republican candidate was Thomas Dewey.
  • The two men held similar positions on most topics, especially ones relating to the war.
  • Dewey mainly ran on the idea that the current administration was made up of old men and that there needed to be a change.
  • FDR won the election with 432 electoral votes, Dewey received 99 electoral votes.
    • Although he easily won the election, this was the lowest amount of electoral votes FDR received in any of his elections.
    • Click here or here to read more about the election of 1944.

Click here for a comparison of the 1940 and 1944 elections from the New York Times

Multimedia.pngClick here to see a video made by the U.S. Office of War Information video portraying America as a country able to hold a peaceful election during a time of war.

primary_sources.PNGClick here for FDR's 1945 inaugural speech
Multimedia.pngClick here for Dewey's statement from election night, Nov. 6, 1944

Works Cited:
[1] Lewis, C (2002). The United States in the Great Depression. Retrieved April 26, 2007, Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/AmStudies/lewis/2010/newdeal.htm
[2] (2007). Asa Philip Randolph. Retrieved April 26, 2007, from America's Union Movement Web site: http://www.aflcio.org/aboutus/history/history/randolph.cfm
[3] Sorenson, A The Image and Reality of Women who Worked During WWII. Retrieved April 26, 2007, from Rosie the Riveter: Women Working During World War II Web site: http://www.nps.gov/pwro/collection/website/rosie.htm
[4] (2007). Retrieved April 26, 2007, from Japanese Internment and POWs Web site: http://www.teacheroz.com/Japanese_Internment.htm
[5} http://www.museum.siu.edu/museum_classroom_grant/Museum_Explorers/school_pages/bourbonnais/page6.htm [6] http://www.pbs.org/childofcamp/