You are on page 1of 3


Chapter 24 & Chapter 26 – World War II Mr. Duez

World War II was more important than the Great Depression in fundamentally
transforming American society.

Assess the validity of this statement based on your knowledge of American society
between 1930 and 1945 and the documents below.

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with
a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak
the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country
today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert
my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which
paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of
frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to
victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
SOURCE: Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address, 1932.
DOCUMENT B (Picture on Right):
Mother of seven children by Dorthea Lange (Circa February 1936)
Picture from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, courtesy of the National
Archives and Records Administration. Farm Security Administration: Destitute
pea pickers in California.

The Rights of Employees
Sec. 7. [Sec. 157]. Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form,
join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through
representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted
activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or
protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities
except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring
membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment....
Source: National Labor Relations Act, 1935.

DOCUMENT D (Poster to left): Source: WWII Poster, Attack on All


There can be no objection to any hand our government may take which strives to bring
peace to the world so long as that hand does not tie 130,000,000 people into another
world death march....We reach now a condition on all fours with that prevailing just
before our plunge into the European war in 1917. Will we blindly repeat that futile
venture? Can we easily forget that we won nothing we fought for then--that we lost
every cause declared to be responsible for our entry then?
Source: Senator Gerald P. Nye, 1937.
We met the issue of 1933 with courage and realism. We face this new crisis- this
new threat to the security of our nation-with the same courage and realism. Never before since Jamestown and
Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now.
For on September 27, 1940-this year-by an agreement signed in Berlin. three powerful nations, two in
Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered
with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations-a program aimed at world control-they would
unite in ultimate action against the United States…The British people and their allies today are conducting an
active war against this unholy alliance. Our own future security is greatly dependent on the outcome of that
fight. Our ability to "keep out of war" is going to be affected by that outcome.

We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We
must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of
patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Arsenal of Democracy speech, December 29, 1940.
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four
essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings
which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear—which translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of
armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act
of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.
Source: Franklin D. Roosevelt, The Four Freedoms, January, 1941.

DOCUMENT H (Poster on Left): We Can Do It! Rosie The Riviter

Source: Westinghouse for the War Production Co-Ordinating Committee, c.

We know that our fate is tied up with the fate of the democratic way of life. And
so, out of the depths of our hearts, a cry goes out for the triumph of the United
Nations. But...unless this war sounds the death knell to the old Anglo-American
empire systems, the hapless story of which is one of exploitation for the profit
and power of a monopoly capitalist economy, it will have been fought in vain.
Our aim then must not only be to defeat nazism, fascism, and militarism on the
battlefield, but to win the peace, for democracy, for freedom and the Brotherhood
of Man without regard to his pigmentation, land of his birth or the God of his
White citizens...should [not] be taken into the March on Washington Movement
as members. The essential value of an all-Negro movement as the March on Washington is that it helps to create
faith by Negroes in Negroes. It develops a sense of self-reliance with Negroes depending on Negroes in vital
matters. It helps to break down the slave psychology and inferiority-complex in Negroes which comes and is
nourished with Negroes relying on white people for direction and support.
Source: A. Philip Randolph, 1942, proposing a march on Washington.
I do know one thing, this place was very segregated when I first come here. Oh, Los Angeles, you just
couldn't go and sit down like you do now. You had certain places you went. You had to more or less stick to the
restaurants and hotels where black people were. It wasn't until the war that it really opened up. 'Cause when I
come out here it was awful, just like bein' in the South....
The war helped some people because they come back, they took trades, learned to do things. My brother
come back and now he is very successful. I think the army really made a man out of him. He works at Rockwell
in the missile department and he's a supervisor. He wouldn't have known what to do if he hadn't gone in the
They didn't mix the white and black in the war. But now it gives you a kind of independence because they
felt that we gone off and fought, we should be equal. Everything started openin' up for us. We got a chance to go
places we had never been able to go before....
Source: Opportunities for Women and Blacks, ca. 1942-1945.

DOCUMENT K (Picture to Right):

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,
by Joe Rosenthal, The Associated Press.

The Depression's impact on the United States economy
1929 1933
Banks in operation 25,568 14,771
Prime interest rate 5.03% 0.63%
Volume of stocks sold (NYSE) 1.1 B 0.65 B
Privately earned income $45.5B $23.9B
Personal and corporate savings $15.3B $2.3B
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States, pp. 235, 263, 1001, and 1007.

SOURCE: “Recollections of the NEW DEAL: When the People
Mattered” by Thomas H. Eliot.

On 9th March 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt called a special session of

Congress. He told the members that unemployment could only be solved
"by direct recruiting by the Government itself." For the next three months,
Roosevelt proposed, and Congress passed, a series of important bills that
attempted to deal with the problem of unemployment. The special session
of Congress became known as the Hundred Days and provided the basis for
Roosevelt's New Deal.

The government employed people to carry out a range of different tasks.

These projects included the Works Projects Administration (WPA), the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the National Youth Administration
(NYA), Farm Security Administration (FSA), the National Recovery
Administration (NRA) and the Public Works Administration (PWA). Other
schemes administered by the Works Projects Administration included the
Federal Writers Project (1935-39) Federal Theatre Project (1935-39) and
the Federal Art Project (1935-43).

As well as trying to reduce unemployment, Roosevelt also attempted to

reduce the misery for those who were unable to work. One of the bodies Roosevelt formed was the Federal
Emergency Relief Administration which provided federal money to help those in desperate need.

Other legislation passed by Roosevelt included the Agricultural

Adjustment Act (1933), National Housing Act (1934), the Federal
Securities Act (1934). In August 1935 the Social Security Act was
passed. This act set up a national system of old age pensions and
coordinated federal and state action for the relief of the unemployed.

During the 1936 presidential election, Roosevelt was attacked for not
keeping his promise to balance the budget. The National Labor
Relations Act was unpopular with businessmen who felt that it favored
the trade unions. Some went as far as accusing Roosevelt of being a
communist. However, the New Deal was extremely popular with the
electorate and Roosevelt easily defeated the Republican Party
candidate, Alfred M. Landon, by 27,751,612 votes to 16,681,913.

DOCUMENT N: (picture on right)

V–J day in Times Square, a photograph by Alfred

Eisenstaedt, was published in Life in 1945 with the
caption, “In New York's Times Square a white-clad
girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited
sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.”

Related Interests