The Homefront

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					   The Homefront
World War II- 1939-1945
     Franklin D. Roosevelt: The
           Roosevelt Rap
• “ We are fighting to cleanse the world of
  ancient evils, ancient ills. That is the
  conflict that day and night pervades our
  lives. No compromise can end that
  conflict. There has never been – there
  never can be- a successful compromise
  between good and evil. Only total victory
  can reward the champions of tolerance
  and decency and freedom and faith.”
          America in 1939
• US army was ranked 49th in the World.
• US army cavalry of 50,000 soldiers with
  horses that still pulled artillery
• Patton: “Against Europe’s total war, the
  US Army looked like a few nice boys with
  BB guns.”
    New York World Fair- 1939
• Time capsule to be opened in 6939: contained
  writing by Einstein, Thomas Mann, copies of Life
  magazine, dollar in change, kewpie dolls, Camel
  cigarettes, seeds of food in common use
  (plaque marks the position in NY. (40 degrees,
  40 minutes)
• Magna Carta on display and kept in US until
  after the war
• Food zone and wonder bread: wheat field where
  bread was baked daily
• 44 million attended
               The Forties
1.  Population: 132, 122, 000(1940)- 140 M (1945)
2.  Unemployed in 1939- 17% unemployed
3.  National debt: $43 billion
4.  Average salary: $1,299- teacher: $1,441
5.  55% of homes had indoor plumbing ; 50% no
    central heat
6. Of 74 million Americans 25 years and older,
    only 2/5 had gone beyond the 8th grade; 1/4
    had graduated from high school and 1/20 from
7. Majority of Americans lived in towns of fewer
    than 25,000
          The Forties

1. Life expectancy: 68.2
    female and 60.8 male
2. TV made its debut in 1939
    World Fair: by war’s end
    only 5000 sets in US
3. The digital computer names
    ENAIC was completed in
              The Forties
The arts: Abstract Expressionism: Pollock, de
   Kooning, Mondrian, Calder
Dream home was the Cape Cod : lawn became
   a symbol of pride of ownership
Music: Aaron Copeland: Rodeo and
   Appalachian Spring; the Big Bands, and
   Jazz of Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk,
   Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald
Radio was the medium for news and
   entertainment: Kate Smith, Arthur Godfrey,
   Red Skelton. Bob Hope
                     The Forties
Literature: JFK: Why England Slept
Richard Wright: Native Son;
Spock: Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care
Ayn Rand: The Fountainhead
St. Exupery: the Little Prince
Dr. Seuss: Horton Hatches the Egg
Janette Lowery: Pokey the Puppy;
Anais Nin; Under a Glass Bell
George Orwell: Animal Farm
E.B. White: Stuart Little
Steinbeck:Cannery Row;
             The Forties
• Newberry Winners began in 1922- Johnny
  Tremain (1944)
• Caldecott winner began in 1938- Make
  Way for Ducklings (1942)
                    The Forties
1. Fads: Jitterbug, Vargas girls, Kilroy, Slinky (1945),
   frozen dinners,, Seventeen magazine (1944), swallowing
   goldfish, skimpy bathing suits
2. Theater and Film: Wilder’s The Skin of our teeth;
   Musicals: Oklahoma, Carousel, Annie get your gun
3. Movies: Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Disney’s, Fantasia
   (1940) Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942)
4. Firsts: synthetic tire, first African American on a stamp:
   Booker T. Washington; Black General: B. O. Davis;
   transatlantic airmail, postal zones, income tax
   withholding, women slacks
5. Greyhound busses transported between 1941-45: 3
   billion passengers
                1939-1940: War
• By 1940 there was dissent in Congress about the New Deal: vetoing
  of many additional programs (southern Democrats and Republicans)
• At the outset of war in 1939, FDR asked the nation to produce
  50,000 planes a year- why this figure? for whatever reason, it
  galvanized American and “caught the imagination of the American
• “FDR had so passionate a faith in the future which implies an
  exceptionally sensitive awareness. This awareness was the source
  of his genius.” Isaiah Berlin
• FDR: Needed to get business on his side if he wanted to produce
  defense equipment: set up a committee represented by New
  Dealers and businessmen; National Defense Advisory Commission
• Selective Service Act of 1940: 12 months
• May 26- June 4th -Churchill: “Never has a nation been so naked
  before her foes”
• FDR: “ If Britain goes down all of us in the Americas would be living
  at the point of a gun." America was taking sides
• FDR: “ I never let my right hand know what my left hand does.”- In
  1940 – FDR had to juggle- he had to deal with Britain’s request for
  destroyers, deal with the passage of a tax law, of a selective service
  bill, and an election
• Lend lease- gave Britain 50 destroyers and we got 9 strategic bases
  for 99 years; “We haven’t had a better bargain since the Indians sold
  Manhattan Island for $24 in wampum and a demi-john of hard liquor”
• Frances Perkins called Lend Lease “ a flash of almost clairvoyant
  knowledge and understanding. Arsenal for Democracy Speech
• General public saw lend lease as a substitute for war
             Getting ready
• Labor union leader Walter Reuthers
  suggested that car factories should be
  converted to plane factories.
• “It took Hitler more than five years to get
  ready for this war. We’ve got months, not
  years in which to prepare. And the battle
  could only be won if this nation produces
  more and faster than any other nation has
  ever produced before.”
                 Getting ready

• With attacks on British ships in the spring of 1941,
  American convoys were sent to accompany them. “We
  know enough now to realize that it would be suicide to
  wait until they are in our front yard. When our enemy
  comes at you in a tank or a bombing plane, if you hold
  your fire until you see the whites of his eyes, you will
  never know what hit you. Our Bunker Hill of tomorrow
  may be several thousand miles from Boston.”
• Goebbels calls the speech demagogic and aggressive,
  “What can the USA do faced with our arms capacity?
  They can do us no harm. They will never be able to
  produce as much as us, who have the entire economic
  capacity of Europe at our disposal.”
              Pearl Harbor
• In mid-July , 1941, 40,000 Japanese invaded
  rubber rich Dutch East Indies: (US source of
  90% or rubber) Japanese assets frozen Panama
  Canal closed and cutting of gasoline to
  Japanese: Japanese refused to leave China
• Same time: Draft extended ( by 1 vote) from 1
  year to an additional 18 months: OHIO
• After hitting Pearl Harbor, Japanese attacked
  Philippines,Malasia, Guam, Wake Island, Hong
• Even before Pear Harbor, Eleanor suggested that Americans save
  their money and put these savings in to government bonds
• Rationing came under Office of Price management (OPM- John
  Kenneth Galbraith): in spring of 1941, OPM announced a 2-week
  scrap drive to collect worn out pans, pots for remelting: collected
  5000 dishpans,10,000 coffee percolators200 roasters, 2500 double
  boilers = one plane – eventually scrap metal drive made 2000
• Price Control Bill (1/42): set prices for selected raw materials
• Eleanor set example for housewives: silk needed for parachutes not
  for hose so wore cotton stockings; sugar was replaced corn syrup in
  White House

• “use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”
• Gas, grease, tin cans, rubber, chewing gum wrappers, sugar,
  stoves, shoes, cheese, typewriters, coffee, meats, processed
  foods, canned fish and milk, fats
• Golf ball production halted due to rubber inside; girdles
• If drove too fast (waste of gas) victim of Victory Honk (3 taps, one
  blast – morse code for V): speed limit of 35 mph
• Some baseballs were stamped 25 cents to $150- if caught it
  redeem for a War Bond
• No Indie 500 from 1942-45
• Also rationed tires, cars, bikes
• A sticker on cars would get 4 gallons/week; non-
  essential use
• B (green) tickers used for essential cars:
  defense workers could buy 8 gallons per week
• C (red) stickers for ministers, physicians, mail
  carriers railroad workers
• T= truckers
• X= members of Congress
• Misrepresentation of one’s status was $10,000
  fine and 10 years in jail: OPA investigators
• Butter scarce: add yellow dye to margarine
• Sugar substituted by corn syrup and saccharine
• Kitchen fats exchanged for butcher shop points
• Kraft macaroni and Cheese ( 1 coupon) made
  many a meal: 80 million sold in 1943; cottage
  cheese replaced meat
• 20 million victory gardens produced 40% of
  needed vegetables in US
• Coffee; I cup of day for each person over 15 (ships needed)
• By 1942: shortage of iron and steel, prohibition of frig., vacuum
  cleaners, sewing machines, irons, radios, no stainless steel for table
• By 1944 no more whisky being distilled because distilleries turned to
  production on industrial alcohol
• 37% of all cigarettes were allocated for service men Victory suit for
  civilians was mandated: cuff less trousers, narrower lapels, shorter
  skirts, pleat less skirts, two-piece bathing suits (girdles= WPB:
  announced that foundation garments were an essential part of a
  woman’s wardrobe) Victims of fashion rationing- no flared skirts,
  leather shoes only came in 6 colors – husbands- no double –
  breasted suits
• Blood drives: Americans in just D.C. donated 13 ½ million pints of
  blood during war: surprise of Pvt. Starner wounded on Tarawa,
  found a plasma bottle with his name on it!
              Black Market
• History of widespread distrust of economic
  regulations: Gov’t wanted to control inflation
• Gasoline; voluntary decrease in consumption did
  not work: Flowback system initiated-
  consumers paid with coupons- the retailer
  replenishes his stock by sending his coupons to
  an intermediate distributor who sends his
  coupons to primary distributor who deposits
  ration coupons in a ration bank account.
                Black Market
• Counterfeiting of coupons began right away:
  estimate of 15-50% counterfeit
• Meat black market: 1.2 billion industry
• At all levels there was graft: Senate hearing: ‘If
  what you say is correct, does that not mean that
  the farmers or the sellers of the cattle first violate
  the law, second, the buyers of the cattle from the
  farmers violate the law, then the slaughterers
  who kill the animals ..violate the law, and
  eventually, the consumers who pay the black
  market prices violate the law”’
• “Yes, it takes people at every level.”
• Many jobs for marginal workers: convicts,
  teenagers, handicapped
• Farming hit hard during the Depression
  but there was a turn around with the war
• “Food will win the war and write the
  peace.” Farmers fed Americans, the
  military and allies; increase production by
Women’s Land Army
            Defense industry
• FDR’s production goals for 1942; 60,000 planes,
  45,000 tanks, 20,000 anti-aircraft guns; 1 plane
  every 4 minutes,1 tank every 7 minutes, 2
  seagoing ships a day
• “ No one understood better than he the inner
  dynamics of American strength, how to mobilize
  it, how to draw on it, how to gauge its limits.
  Once mobilized, it did not need to be drive; it
  only needed to be steered.” (. E.Larrabee)
• After Pearl Harbor, 20 million moved to find
  employment: 15% of population: west coast
  population increased by 34%
        Big vs. Small industries
• 1940: small companies were producing war industry,
  large (30%); by 1943, large companies dominated (by
• In 1942 there were 2,267,700 accidents in factories and
  19,900 deaths: 100 liberty ships could have been built if
  just 15% fewer accidents
• Due to third shift and fatigue
• Also safety regulations still in hands of management:
  diminished when goggles, face shields and finger guards
  on power shears were adopted
Homefront as an economic army of
•   “ It is for the women of America to say
    whether Americans shall live slave or free”
    (War guide supplement for Confession
•   Most jobs for women were in manufacturing-
    low-paying and non-unionized: also telephone
    operators, clerical ( not African A.) waitresses
                    The myth
• Myth that women entered the workplace in droves to
  help their men and for purely patriotic reasons
• Those who entered the work force were not middle class
  but working class, wives, students, divorcees who
  needed money: only 1/8 new workers had men in
• Most had worked before the war: in 1944 survey, 25 %
  had less than 2 years experience, 50% had been
  working for more than 5 years and 30% for at least 10
• Also only 10% of these women had graduated form
  college and 54% had not graduated from h.s.
• Many had withdrawn from the labor force because of the
  Depression and the jobs that were available in the
  Depression were given to men
    The reality: Defense industry
• By 1943: 40% in aircraft industry; 34% in ammunition; 10.6 % in
  steel; 10% in shipping; 8% in RR: 6 million entered/11.5 before war
• Wages were 40% higher than traditional female fields
• Agriculture: 22.4%
• Gov’t saw women’s work as temporary and suggested that best
  female worker was married w/no children ( younger should remain
  home with kids)
• Opposition form Catholic Church: weakening family life

• War Depart. Brochure:”Woman is a substitute. like plastic for steel”
• If women wanted to be treated as individuals, the war industry was
  not the time or place.
• Posters: Rosie the Riveter: “Amazonian”: attractive with huge
  muscles: can’t equate it to what men were doing on the battlefield
       Women and the defense
• High absentee rate so creation of day care centers in
  some cities and on site in many industries
• In 1942 ER urged FDR to create first gov’t sponsored
  day care centers under Communities Facilities Act
• Without daycare, there was a danger for the defense
  industry, but also of child neglect; Kaiser Shipyards built
  a model day care for all other defense industries ( open
  6 days a week at price of $.75
• By the end of the war, more defense industries built day
  care and 1,500,000 children had been served)
       Women’s contributions
• Women built 87,000 warships, 300,000 aircraft,
  41 billion rounds of ammo, 107,000 tanks, B-24
  built every 63 minutes
• 649,000 Jeeps (G.P.= general purpose)1 jeep
  every 80 seconds
• Worked in other arenas; lumberjills,
  newspapers, radio, stock exchange, cowgirls
• “war would create a new amazon who would out
  drink, out swear, and out swagger the men.”

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