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Colleen Fricke 4/15/13 Research Paper Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor: Awakening the Slumbering Giant “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a

date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

~President Franklin D. Roosevelti

Just one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared that December 7th, 1941 would be a “date which will live in infamy.” This was very much the case. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had a large impact on America. The attack increased nationalist sentience among Americans; The US undividedly entered World War II, more Americans devoted efforts towards the war, and America’s economy changed into a wartime economy.

Prior to December 7th, 1941, the citizens of the United States were not completely supportive of entering World War II. Wars are costly, and Japan and Germany didn’t even present a direct threat to the United States, so why would the US even want to get involved in another war? Another reason why the US did not want to enter another war was because the US used the tactic of isolationism. After being involved in an extremely costly war (World War I), the US wanted to remain

apart from the affairs and interests of other countries. A way the US remained an isolationist country was through the Neutrality Acts. The Neutrality Acts prohibited the US from extending any loans to belligerent nations, and even gave the President the authority to bar all belligerent ships from U.S. waters.ii These acts all seemed to work and kept the US uninvolved in other countries’ affairs. This all changed once Pearl Harbor was attacked and the US entered World War II.

On December 7th, 1941, one hundred and ninety one Japanese torpedo planes, dive-bombers, and fighters attacked Pearl Harbor. An Army private, who was manning the radars noticed inbound aircraft, but this was immediately dismissed by the second lieutenant on duty, and not seen as a threat since B-17 bombers from California were supposed to be passing by anyway.iii The second lieutenant was wrong. The aircraft detected were not B-17 bombers, but were actually Japanese planes whose mission was to severely cripple or destroy the US fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor. Luckily, the main targets (US aircraft carriers) were at sea, so the damage was not entirely crippling. Especially since the repair facilities, the submarine base, and oil reserve tanks were also spared.iv While some things were spared, the bombing raids killed 2,403 people, including 68 civilians, and wounded almost 1,200.v Pearl Harbor was the first time since the War of 1812 America was attacked on its home soil by another country, and the Joint

Congressional committee has described Pearl Harbor as the “greatest military and naval disaster in our Nation’s history.”vi Just one day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a powerful speech, asking Congress to declare war on Japan. In his speech, President Roosevelt said that the nation “would never forget the character of [Japan’s] onslaught against us" and vowed that the "unbounding determination of our people... will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God." Roosevelt’s speech further confirmed the way millions of Americans who had been hearing details of the attack in the news felt. The majority of American’s shared the president's outrage and commitment to defending the nation. Both houses of Congress quickly voted to declare war on Japan, and there was only one dissenting vote. The one dissenting vote was Representative Jeannette Rankin, described as a pacifist.vii The fact that only one person voted against entering the war is significant because it demonstrates American’s shifts in attitude regarding entering World War II. Americans, who were once isolationists and saw entering World War II as pointless, now had a reason to enter the war and abandon their isolationist ways. The war was now on the forefront of US citizen’s minds.

With an increased feeling of nationalism among Americans, it only makes sense that Americans became more dedicated to the war cause. After Pearl Harbor was attacked, it was reported that across the country in urban and rural

communities, military recruiting offices were packed. Recruiting offices were open 24 hours, seven days a week to accept enlistments.viii Clearly, Americans felt the need to defend their country. In order to make up for the huge amount of soldiers enlisting, civilians also needed to do their part and become more dedicated to war efforts. One way civilians helped was through rationing items needed by the military such as food, fabric, shoes, leather goods, metals, oil, and rubber. Civilians were encouraged to purchase war bonds and children saved up their money to purchase war bonds at school. Overall, the war bonds generated $1 billion for military needs and also helped to restrain inflation by diverting excess funds.ix Even women left their homes to work in factories in order to support the war. Soldiers and civilians worked together to fight the war, but in different ways. Because of World War II, the US came out of the Great Depression and developed a war economy. From 1940 to 1945, the Gross National Product doubled from 1940 to 1945. Thousands of new jobs were created to produce the weapons, aircraft and other needs to support the war effort.x By the end of 1943, two-thirds of the American economy was integrated into the war effort. In order to further expand the war effort, President Roosevelt established the War Production Board as a government agency that which that regulated the production of materials and fuel during World War II in the United States. The WPB converted and expanded peacetime industries to meet war needs, allocated scarce materials

vital to war production, established priorities in the distribution of materials and services, and prohibited nonessential production. Peacetime industries that produced goods such as sparkplugs, stoves, merry-go rounds, toys, corsets, and pinball machines converted their factories to instead produce machine guns, lifeboats, gun mounts, compasses, grenade belts, and armor-piercing shells respectively.xi The United States effectively used its industrial power, and as a result, made it so that the Allied Forces had an advantage in the war. Germany and Japan were no competition for the US and the Allies in terms of industrial power. According to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, “The United States is like a giant boiler. Once the fire is lighted under it, there is no limit to the power it can generate.” The US definitely proved that once the fire (Japan attacking Pearl Harbor) was lit, there truly is no limit to the power the US can generate.

Other than the attack itself, propaganda referring to the attack further increased nationalist feelings among Americans. Common propaganda had the words “Remember Pearl Harbor,” and depicted the Japanese as uncivilized, ruthless, and monster-like. Here is an example of propaganda with the tag line “Remember Pearl Harbor:”

“Remember Pearl Harbor, Buy War Bonds" (1941-1945)

In this propaganda image, Pearl Harbor, along with an iconic American symbol of freedom –The Statue of Liberty, is brought up to evoke American nationalist feelings and get Americans to buy war bonds. On the knife that is about to stab the statue of liberty, the day December 7th is printed. This gets the viewers of the propaganda image to actually remember the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. This propaganda is effective because it gets the viewer to do exactly what the words on the image say –remember Pearl Harbor and buy war bonds.

Other propaganda used that contributed to the increased nationalism among Americans involve anti-Japanese propaganda. Here is another example of antiJapanese propaganda:

“This Is The Enemy “(1941-1945)

It is easily inferred that man in the image is a Japanese soldier because of the rising sun symbols on both his uniform and hat. The Japanese man is holding a naked Caucasian woman over his shoulder, and has an evil look on his face. The words on the picture also plainly state, “this is the enemy,” referring to the Japanese man in the picture. This poster instills fear in Americans, and shows that if the enemy (the

Japanese) is not stopped, great evils will happen such as the raping of American women. By instilling fear in Americans, WWII propaganda posters such as this one cause cultural and racial hatred that led to historical consequences for the Japanese.

Increased nationalism in America is a good thing, but in some cases, nationalism can be taken to an extreme such that it turns into a bad thing. This was demonstrated in the internment/relocation camps that Americans of Japanese ancestry were put in during World War II. Americans felt that they could not trust those that looked like the enemy (even if they weren’t the enemy), which is in February 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which relocated all persons of Japanese ancestry, both citizens and aliens, inland, outside of the Pacific military zone. The objectives of the order were to prevent espionage and to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans who had strong anti-Japanese attitudes. The order affected 117,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens of the United States. Within weeks of the order, all persons of Japanese ancestry (regardless of whether they are citizens) were ordered to assembly centers near their homes. Soon they were sent to permanent relocation centers outside the restricted military zones.xii While the internment and relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry was thought to help the war efforts, often times, this did not do anything and only reflected poorly on Americans. America is supposed to be a place where people accused of a crime

are innocent until proven guilty. Japanese internment was an example of nationalism crossing the line and turning into a negative thing.

Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, the man responsible for planning the attack on Pearl Harbor, thought that attacking Pearl Harbor would force the US into the war as an underdog with no way to defend itself. Little did the Admiral Yamamoto know, the attack “galvanized the slumbering giant of the United States, whose citizens vowed to ‘Remember Pearl Harbor!’”xiii The “slumbering giant of the United States” woke up stronger than ever. The US undividedly entered World War II, more Americans devoted efforts towards the war, and America’s economy changed into a wartime economy.

""A Date Which Will Live in Infamy": FDR Asks for a Declaration of War." History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. American Social History Project/Center for Media & Learning, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. <>. ii "Milestones: 1921-1936." U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian . U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. <>. iii Symonds, Craig L. The Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute, 1995. 140. iv Symonds, Craig L. The Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy . Annapolis: Naval Institute, 1995. 140. v "Roosevelt Asks Congress to Declare War on Japan." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. <>. vi Mueller, John. "Pearl Harbor: Military Inconvenience, Political Disaster." International Security. Vol. 16. N.p.: MIT, 1991. 172. vii "Roosevelt Asks Congress to Declare War on Japan." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2013. <>.

Ganzel, Bill, and Claudia Reinhardt. "Enlistments & the Draft." Wessels Living History Farm. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2013. <>. ix "Research/Publications." American Political History. Eagleton Institute of Politics Rutgers, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. x "Research/Publications." American Political History. Eagleton Institute of Politics Rutgers, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. xi "Economic Conversion and Business in WWII." Boundless. Boundless, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. xii "Japanese Relocation During World War II." Japanese Relocation During World War II. National Archives, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013. <>. xiii Symonds, Craig L. The Naval Institute Historical Atlas of the U.S. Navy. Annapolis: Naval Institute, 1995. 140.