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Brett Ransegnola

Chapter 36B Homework Sheet
The Rise of Dictators and War Begins in Europe


Read pg. 832-838 (Start at Building the War Machine, Stop at The Rising Sun in the Pacific),


Note Card IDs:
Identify and state the historical significance: War Production Board, Office of Price
Administration, Smith Connally Anti-Strike Act, Fair Employment Practices Commission,



Answer the following question in a Notebook Essay: How did WW2 change the United States
politically, economically and socially?

Prior to WWII, the United States was suffering through the Great Depression. The
economy was at an all-time low, and government under FDR enacted New Deals in an effort to
stimulate the economy and recover. However, despite all the efforts, World War II was the start
the nation needed to jump out of the recession. The entire nation went into “war” mode,
revolutionizing the nation’s politics, economy, and society to that of a warring nation.
During a time of war, often political leaders and governments use their powers to
organize the nation for the purpose of war, which is exactly as the US government does in
preparation for WWII. The government created the War Production Board which controlled the
industrial creation of war supplies. The central government was extending into private affairs in
an attempt to supply the country with soon-to-be-needed supplies. Political power left the
realm of trying to aid the public in the New Deals to trying to direct the public towards
productions to benefit the war. The Office of Price Administration controlled prices to keep the
public happy with low inflation rates. A riot in the home would cause extremely detrimental
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distractions from war focus. The War Labor Board, also a government organization, was put in
place to keep down wages and thus minimize prices. To further prevent any home distractions
and suppress any turmoil which would slow war production and create disunion, the US
government put in place the Smith-Connally Anti-Strike Act. Although strikes were minimal and
a likely gradual turn to war production, the federal government got involved to speed up the
process and encourage national unity as war nations do.
Commonly known as that which ended the Great Depression, WWII allowed the United
States to reform its torn economy. Smedley Butler once wrote that war “is possibly the oldest,
easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious”. People profit from war and people die in
war. What is certain is that where there is fighting, someone has to be selling the “sticks” to fight
with. It is these people who make money off of war. The demand of war supplies allowed a few
industries to begin to flourish. As this happened, these industries hired more people and attracted
more businessmen. The war provided a demand for certain products and by these demands jobs
were created and the nation was revitalized. By the end of the war, the Gross National Product
had doubled, corporate profits doubled, and more spending money was available. No longer was
unemployment so high as many people found work in support of the war. The only downside to
the war was that economically the national debt rose millions. However, getting the nation out of
its greatest recession is not small feat. The United States was not like many of the other warring
nations in WWII. The US profited immensely from the War, while others did not. There is
always some profit in war, so in this way the US was like other warring states. However, more
than simply a few powerful businessmen in the US made a lot of money unlike other nations.
Socially, the War not only united the people, but also brought about large social changes.
Pearl Harbor most certainly brought the US together against the Axis powers and changed the
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public outlook on war from isolationism. This is a huge change as the public sentiment almost
completely shifted, however this was not the only social change. With white males leaving to go
to war, many jobs were opened, and with it the labor force in factories and industries declined.
Seeing this as an opportunity, just like during WWI, many African Americans left the South to
work in the North. African Americans started to become proponents in war industries, but even
more surprisingly, they were allowed to serve in the military! Unheard of before, this change
caused a major social status shift in African Americans. Was it an automatic shift to the amount
of equality today? No, but it was a big step towards it. The same goes for women and Mexican
Americans. Women, for the first time in US history could join the army. They could join non-
fighting corps such as the WAACS and the WAVE. Mexican Americans could actually fight in
the war! All these corps were segregated, but opportunities were great for these people. After the
war, many of these social equality accomplishments receded, but it set precedents unseen before
in US history.
Without a doubt, WWII is one of the most important parts of US history because of the
massive effects it had on the US. Social equality, economic successes, and political changes all
effects to some extent. WWII changed the US’s direction from depression to success.
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