Lee 1 Harrison Lee Nasser AP History Period 1 November 30th, 2012

The American Home Front During WWI and WWII The First World War, also known as the “Great War”, changed the American vision in ways that had never been seen before. It had a great impact on the world, devastating most countries, while benefitting countries such as the US. Although World War One was seen as the “war to end all wars”, the situations of the European nations and the unsolved issues persisted, giving rise to another inevitable war, this time on an even greater scale. Although the effect of the First World War eventually led to the Second World War, this did not exactly equate to the same situations faced within the US. Despite this, propaganda was used during both wars, women had a great impact on the economy, preparedness for the wars were somewhat the same, and racism persisted. In many ways, the American home front during both wars was similar, while in some ways it was also slightly different, politically, socially, and economically. In terms of preparedness, the US was somewhat unprepared for the First World War. Although the Americans had been manufacturing goods for the Allied Powers for a while, they were not ready to embrace the intensity of a large scale war. For example, due to the rush to complete large assignments, many mistakes were made. There ended up being insufficient arms to go around, and the War Shipping Board failed to build an ample amount of ships. In addition, many Americans were left without a supply of coal during the 1917-1918 winter. During this time, the American people were not living very comfortable lives; many of them, in fact, died of cold and pneumonia. Also in the duration of the First

there were also groups such as the Sedition Slammers and American Defense Society. because the sudden need for production of war materials stimulated the American economy. Even this decision led to consequences. Although a draft was later instituted. The lack of a proper sized and equipped military certain was a concerning issue. A labor crisis followed. the Committee on Public Information aimed for anti-German sentiment. finally lifting the country out of the depression that even Roosevelt’s New Deal could not solve. Pamphlets were placed in circulation. Both were Ultrapatriotic groups. along with alcohol. the US was not any better in terms of preparedness. The US Army was only forty-fifth in size compared to that of the other countries. . Despite this. During World War II. In World War I. The CPI even went as far as encouraging film companies such as the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry to produce anti-German movies. known for their usage of vigilantism. the government imposed heavy taxes on income. however. In World War II. As a result of the higher taxes and thus a higher cost of living. and the government attempted to attract workers from Mexico. This tax rate increase was intended to aid in the war effort. many laborers left their low-paying jobs in search of higher paying ones. Other than the CPI. Roosevelt created the Office of War Information (OWI) which. and luxury items. considerably expanding the size of the army.Lee 2 World War. The increase of Mexican laborers in the cities led to an issue concerning housing. Furthermore. the taxes only came to finance one-third of the war. Most of the time. The US condition during World War II was not terrible this whole time. tobacco. the CPI also promoted the practice of “self-censorship” which involved people spying on their neighbors. and could not even equip one-third of the men. Propaganda also played a major role in selling the war to the people during both World War I and II. and “Four Minute Men” spoke at public places to stir up patriotism. according to Roosevelt’s “Victory Plan” the US would still be unprepared to fight before mid-1943. however. organizations such as the Committee on Public Information CPI) hired some of the nation’s most prestigious writers and scholars to shape public opinion on the war. which resulted in the US Housing Corporation and the Emergency Fleet Corporation to build more houses to accommodate the incoming workers.

just like the women during World War I. worked for firearm plants. Women during World War II also achieved similar goals. and hired Hollywood filmmakers to create movies with World War II settings. Women also worked on building ships and aircraft for military use. Most of them took the places of the white women in domestic service and textile factories. women participated in the war effort as well. African Americans also received new opportunities. Many of them. Despite their newly . theaters held “plasma premiers”. women took advantage of their absence to keep the nation running and to prove their strength. and went from clerking in department stores to typing. the US published magazines and newspapers that literally dehumanized the Japanese. the women even formed the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense. publicized government mobilization programs. worked for the production of war goods. The committee established a network of volunteer organizations. This usage of extreme racial imagery brought to the Americans aroused hatred towards the race. Many white women shifted from domestic service to factories. Also during World War II. causing the northern black population to skyrocket. Women during both World War I and World War II replaced much of the men in the American work force. and coal mines. and sponsored drives to sell Liberty Bonds. Women during World War I took care of much of the situations back at home. Blacks began working in places such as steel mills. Such occupations included being elevator operators and cafeteria waitresses. Even African American women found the chance to work. which offered free admission to anyone who donated blood to the Red Cross. With the men away in Europe fighting alongside the Allies. led by Ida Tarbell and Carrie Chapman Catt. black women were employed for jobs they had never worked in before. Besides women. Besides working in the industry. Black women filled in the original jobs of white women such as domestic service. Many African Americans migrated to the North in order to find a job. The desperate need of labor in the country meant that for the first time. utilized propaganda to stir up public sentiment. shipyards. In addition.Lee 3 just like the CPI. In fact. the number of women in the work force raised significantly—an increase of fifty-seven percent. Over the course of the war. The OWI took full advantage of the media.

blacks had paved out a . African Americans during the wars experienced racial tension. African Americans formed the “Double V” campaign. and over the course of the war they gained respect. The American home front in World War I and II were similar in many ways. blacks were able to join the military. As the Second World War progressed. the US was unprepared for the upcoming events. in World War II African Americans began to see more light in anti-segregation. albeit still segregated from the whites. Later on. Blacks utilized the American view on the racist doctrines of the Nazis to force them to compare it with the Jim Crow segregation in the US. Also. Famous groups such as the “Tuskgee Airmen” had many military achievements. Nothing was to be done about this during the First World War. Lastly. even the blood plasma donated from a black to the Red Cross was segregated. women played a vital role in maintaining the heart of the country while all the men had gone to Europe for battle. Furthermore. propaganda was in widespread use across the nation in order to sell the war. Groups such as the Committee of Public Information utilized the new technology of the twentieth century to advertise their message. African Americans stood up for their rights. Both times. and proved that they were capable of running a country during times of great need. women took care of the industry. Groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) looked forward to persuading the government to try lightening the racial tensions. African Americans still faced racial tension with the whites during this time period. In addition. Mohandas Gandhi of India founded the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) which promoted “nonviolent direct action”.Lee 4 found freedoms. Despite the newfound privilege for African Americans to join the armed forces in World War II. In both wars. though. racial segregation still haunted them. However. However. and marked a turning point in their movement for equal rights. For example.

In conclusion. the American situation at home was very similar during both the First and Second World War. .Lee 5 decent path towards equal rights.