America Moves Toward War The U.S. Response to WWII and its eventual involvement When war broke out in Europe, what was the US response? FDR stated neutrality, but at the same time he knew action would eventually have to be taken. Timeline of Events leading to US entrance into WWII • September 8, 1939 – FDR calls Congress into a special session to revise the Neutrality Acts. – The Neutrality Acts had been passed in 1935 which outlawed sales of arms or loans to nations in war or in civil war. – At this time, FDR asked to allow American arms to be sold to warring nations if they paid cash and shipped them in their own ships. – After six weeks, Congress passed FDR’s request. Was the Nation staying neutral? “ I do not believe that we can become an arsenal for one belligerent without becoming a target for another.” -Senator Arthur Vandenberg What steps would the US take in the next few months to make it less neutral? Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • Spring to Summer 1940 – Even with cash and carry in effect, allied forces continual to fall in Europe. • September 1940 – Japan, Germany, and Italy signed a mutual defense treaty, known as the Tripartite Pact, and are referred to as the Axis Powers. – This pact was similar to the alliances of WWI. Why was this a good strategy for the Germans to adopt? This meant that if the US decided to enter WWII, it would have to fight on two fronts, not just one. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • September 1940 – FDR steps up his aid of military equipment to Britain. – Under this program, the US gave Britain ships to borrow in exchange for leases on their bases in other parts of the world. – At the same time, FDR asks congress to increase defense spending, which they approve in addition to instituting a draft. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • November 1940 – FDR re-elected to a third term with 55 % of the vote. – Shortly afterward, the President begins to prepare the nation for war, stating that we would need to be the “great arsenal of democracy.” Should we have been involved in WWII? Didn’t we learn our lesson from WWI? What made it different this time? Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • Winter 1940 – Britain runs out of money to purchase arms from the United States. – FDR proposes a new program, known as lend-lease. – Under this provision, the US would lend or lease arms and other supplies to any country “whose defense was vital to the United States.” Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • Spring 1941 – Although isolationists fought lend-lease, Congress passes the provision with an initial appropriation of $7 billion, eventually spending $50 billion. • June 22, 1941 – Hitler ignores peace treaty with Soviet Union and invades with 3 million troops. Lend-lease is eventually extended to the Soviet Union as well due to their scorched earth policy of warfare. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • Spring 1941 – To stop shipment of arms, the Germans once again deploy U-Boats into the Atlantic Ocean, usually in groups of 15-20 known as Wolf Packs. – In five weeks alone in 1941, the Germans successfully sank 1.2 million tons of British shipping. • June 1941 – FDR orders the US navy to protect lend-lease shipments as far as Iceland and to attack U-Boats in necessary for self-defense. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • August 1941 – Congress authorized the draft for another 18 months, with high isolationist opposition. – FDR and Churchill meet secretly off of Newfoundland and agree to the Atlantic Charter. – The document spelled out what the goals of Britain and the US would be after the end of WWII. Atlantic Charter Provisions • No territorial expansion • No territorial changes without consent of inhabitants • People should be allowed to choose their form of government • Free trade among nations • Encourage international cooperation • A secure peace based on freedom from want or fear • Disarmament of aggressors • A permanent system of general security Thus, had FDR and Churchill learned from WWI? How was this similar to Wilson’s 14 points? Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • September 4, 1941 – German U-boats fire on the USS Greer, and FDR responds by commanding that US shoot German ships on sight. – This move essentially started the naval war between the US and Germany • Fall 1941 – 26 nations sign the Atlantic Charter, now known as the “Declaration by the United Nations.” These 26 nations become known as the Allies, counterpart to the Axis. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • Fall 1941 – As shipping incidents increase, the US senate repeals the ban against arming merchant ships, making us one step closer to war. What was happening on the other side of the ocean? • While the US seem preoccupied with Germany, Japan was increasing to build up its war machine. • By July of 1941, Japan had invaded Manchuria, China, Indochina, and many of the outlying islands except for those occupied by the United States. • By now, tensions were mounting between these two nations. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • July 1941 – As the Japanese entered Indochina, the US responded by cutting off trade with Japan, imposing an embargo. – At the heart of this embargo was oil, which Japan needed for its war machine. • October 1941 – Japanese general Hideki Tojo becomes prime minister of Japan, promising to attempt peace with the Americans, but to go to war if they failed. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • November 5, 1941 – Japan sends a peace envoy to Washington, but at the same time orders the Japanese navy to prepare for an attack on the US. • Late November, 1941 – US intelligence breaks Japanese code, discovering that an attack was likely on the United States by Japan, but it was unknown when or where this would occur. – FDR issues a war warning to forces in Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines while peace talks continued. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • December 6, 1941 – US intelligence intercepts another Japanese message that instructed the peace envoy to reject all American peace proposals. – FDR fears war is likely • December 7, 1941 – Japanese air forces attack Pearl Harbor. – After about two hours, Japan lost 29 planes while the US lost 18 ships, 350 planes, and about 2400 soldiers. Timeline of events leading to US entering WWII • December 8, 1941 – FDR addressed a joint session of Congress, asking for a resolution of war against Japan.
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