Re-thinking History

"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." Malcolm X "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams." Henry David Thoreau

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Location: California, United States

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

FDR & the New Deal, WWII: Foreign & Domestic

Hello History 12~
These lecture notes will cover Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal, WWII abroad and WWII at home. As these notes cover the years, 1932-1945, I will post the most relevant information that will be beneficial to you in this course.
  • However, these notes do not replace your attendance in class or the fact that you should be taking notes while I lecture. You can not participate in class, which is 30 points of your grade, if you are not present.
  • Concerning the issue of note-taking, half of you do not take notes. Be pro-active in your eduction and make the attempt to write down what I put up on the board!
  • So, if you are concerned about your grade or the fact that I don't post notes in a timely fashion, then you need to come to class! It is very simple!
  • Please review your syllabus should you have any questions about the requirements for the course. If you need to visit me during my office hours, then do so. If you need to email me, then do so! Don't wait until the last minute!
  • In addition, a survey text, "The American Promise," is on reserve at the college library. This text has been on reserve for the entire semester and only one student has utilized the text.
  • Lastly, you should not be waiting until I post notes from the lecture to finish your essays. You course text "Reading the American Past," has a wide range of documents that will assist in the majority of your essay topics. I also posted additional sources that cover most of your topics in a earlier post this semester!
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932-1945, Democrat (FDR was elected to four terms as the president, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944; dying three months into his fourth term on April 12, 1945.)
  • Born in 1882 & grew up on his father's estate in Hyde Park on the Hudson River, north of New York City. Politicians have argued that he was born with a "silver spoon in his mouth that was later bent." This statement addresses the issue of class consciousness and many called FDR a traitor for abandoning his wealth.
  • In the summer of 1921, FDR became infected with the polio virus and frequently visited a facility in Warm Springs, Georgia for treatment. It was in Georgia that he combined treatment with political overtures to southern Democrats.
  • As Governor of New York, FDR believed that the government should intervene to protect citizens from economic hardships rather than do nothing but wait for the law of supply and demand to improve the economy.
  • As the election of 1932 neared, President Hoover was increasingly unpopular with the American public as the Depression continued. FDR won the 1932 presidential election in a historic landslide and received 57% of the nation's votes, the first time a Democrat had won a majority of the popular vote since 1852. Roosevelt captured 472 electoral votes to Hoover's 59.
  • In his inaugural speech on March 4, 1933, FDR promised "direct, vigorous action." The first months of Roosevelt's administration, termed "the 100 days" fulfilled that promise in a whirlwind of government initiatives that launched the New Deal. The majority of his New Deal programs were designed to bring "relief, recovery and reform" to the American population. In addition, two acts dealt specifically with the issue of finance and banks, who were dealt a severe blow from the stock market crash.
  • However, relief for big corporations were not high on the list of FDR's "First New Deal" programs, as these acts or programs concentrated on the plight of the impoverished and addressed the rights of worker, as the case of the 1934 Wagner Act, which created the National Labor Relations Board to sponsor and oversee elections for union representation. FDR signed this Act into law the following year, providing for the first time federal support for labor organization-the most important New Deal reform of the industrial order. It was during his second New Deal that the business community was challenged.
  • Lastly, historians have stated that FDR's "New Deal" programs have contributed to the emerging Welfare State.
  • The "Brain Trust": FDR was influenced by academic advisers when designing his "New Deal policies."
  • March 9, 1933, Emergency Banking Act: Provides for reopening stable banks and authorizing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to supply funds.
  • March 31, 1933: Civilian Conservation Corps Act: Provides jobs for unemployed (nearly 250,000) young men.
  • May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act: Provides relief funds for the destitute.
  • May 12, 1933: Agricultural Adjustment Act: Provides funds to pay farmers for not growing crops; limited amount of crop growing, as excessive crops would be wasted.
  • May 18, 1933: Tennessee Valley Authority Act: Creates the TVA to bring electric power and conservation to the area.
  • June 16, 1933: National Industrial Recovery Act: Specifies cooperation among business, government and labor in setting fair prices and working conditions.
  • June 16, 1933: Glass-Stegall Banking Act: Creates the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to insure bank deposits.
  • The Works Progress Administration: Gave unemployed Americans government-funded jobs on public works projects. The WPA put millions of jobless citizens to work on roads, bridges, parks, public buildings.
  • Prohibition was repealed by FDR and issued an Executive Order redefining 3.2% alcohol as the maximum allowed.
  • The single most important feature of the New Deal's emerging welfare state was Social Security, designed to provide a modest income to relieve the poverty of elderly people. Only about 15% of older Americans had a type of pension and during the Depression, banks and big corporations often failed to pay the meager pensions. Some corporations even fired or demoted employees to avoid or reduce pension payments. Not all workers benefited from Social Security, as it excluded domestic and agricultural workers from receiving benefits, making ineligible about 1/2 of all African Americans, more than half of all employed women and Mexican American migrants workers in CA.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt & African Americans: Eleanor sponsored the appointment of Mary McLeod Bethune as head of the Division of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration. Bethune used her position to guide a small number of Black professionals and civil rights activist to posts within New Deal agencies. However, the 1897 ruling of 'separate but equal' severely restricted the spirit of many of the New Deal programs.
  • In the election of 1936, Roosevelt won 60.8% of the popular vote and carried electoral votes of every state except Maine and Vermont.
  • Following the election, FDR desired to remove the remaining obstacles to New Deal reforms and decided to target the Supreme Court. FDR proposed that for every Supreme Court justice that had served for ten years and over the age of 72, a new justice would be added. This was called "court packing scheme," and even supporters of FDR were disturbed by this issue.
  • In addition, historians have stated that Executive Order 6102 was controversial, as the gold confiscation by executive order was assumed to be unconstitutional. FDR argued that the "War Time Powers Act" on 1917 gave him the authority to 'nationalize' privately held gold bullion.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (1938): Created the minimum wage.
  • The 22nd Amendment, which now limited the length of office for presidency was passed following FDR's years in office.
  • Roosevelt and reluctant isolationism: FDR believed that the nation's highest priority was to attack the domestic causes and consequences of the depression. However, historians have argued that FDR long advocated an active role for the U.S. in international affairs. Following WWI, FDR embraced Wilson's vision that the U.S. should take the lead in making the world "safe for Democracy." FDR advocated membership in the League of Nations during the isolationist 1920s. However, during his 1932 presidential campaign, FDR pulled back from his endorsement of the League of Nations and reversed his previous support for forgiving European war debts. Once in office, FDR advocated a low-profile foreign policy that encouraged free trade and disarmament.
  • FDR and the Good Neighbor Policy: Policy applied specifically to Latin America, where U.S. military forces had intervened in local affairs. In replacement of the old policy of "arrogant intervention" would be replaced by a "helping hand," extended in a desire for friendly cooperation to create, "more order in this hemisphere and less dislike." This essentially a pledge that no nation had the right to intervene in the internal or external orders of another. However, this did not indicate a U.S. retreat from empire in Latin America. Instead, this policy declared that the U.S. would not depend on military force to exercise its influence in the region. Nor did this policy prevent the U.S. from exerting its economic influence in Latin America. However, there was a price to pay for non involvement as fascist governments in Italy and Germany emerged, the militaristic government of Japan planned conquests throughout Southeast Asia.
  • The Neutrality Act of 1936: attempted to reconcile the nation's desire for both peace and foreign trade with a "cash & carry" policy that required warring nations to pay cash for nonmilitary goods and transport them in their own ships.

WWII Radically different from WWI

Ideologically driven

  • Allies USA, UK and the USSR
  • Axis: Germany, Japan, Italy
  • Civilian casualties
  • Ruined cities
  • Europe
  • Asia

The Path to War, European and American Involvement in the War

  • 1931: Japan invades Manchuria
  • 1933: Adolf Hitler becomes German chancellor
  • 1935-37: Congress passes a series of neutrality acts to protect the U.S. from involvement in world conflicts.
  • 1936: March, Nazi troops invade Rhineland, violating the Treaty of Versailles. Versailles treaty forbade Germany for placing troops in the Rhineland. June, Civil War breaks out in Spain and Mussolini's fascist Italian regime conquers Ethiopia.
  • 1937: December, Japanese troops capture Nanking, China. "The raping of Nanking"
  • 1938: Hitler annexes Austria; September 29, Hitler accepts offer of "appeasement" in Munich from British prime minister Neville Chamberlain.
  • 1939: March, Hitler invades Czechoslovakia; August, Hitler & Stalin sign Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact; September 1, Germany invades Poland, beginning WWII.
  • 1940: Spring, German blitzkrieg smashes through Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and northern France. Japan signs Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy.
  • 1940: May-June: German armies flank Maginot Line, British and French evacuated from Dunkirk. France surrenders to Germany.
  • 1940: Summer-Fall: Germany conducts bombing campaign against England.
  • 1941: Congress approves Lend-Lease Act, making arms available to Britain.
  • June 22: Hitler invades Soviet Union.
  • August: Roosevelt & Churchill issue Atlantic Charter.
  • October: Militarists led by Hideki Tojo take over Japan.
  • December 7: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
  • December 8: United States declares war on Japan.
  • December 11: Germany and Italy declare War on United States.
  • November 1942-43: Allies mount North African campaign. (Operation Torch)
  • July 10, 1943: Allies begin Italian invasion through Sicily.
  • June 4, 1944: Allies liberate Rome from German occupation.
  • June 6, 1944: D Day-Allied forces invade Normandy. (2 million arrive via the beach: snipers and grenades are used against Allies)
  • August 25, 1944: Allies liberate Paris.
  • September 12, 1944: Allies enter Germany.
  • February 19-March 16, 1945: Battle of Iwo Jima. The Native American Ira Hayes helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima.
  • May 2, 1945: Soviet forces capture Berlin.
  • August 6, 1945: United States drop atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
  • August 9, 1945: United States drops atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Hitler, 'the final solution,' U.S. lack of involvement, and concentration camps

  • Since the 1930s, the Nazis had persecuted the Jews in Germany and every German-occupied territory, causing many to seek asylum beyond Hitler's reach. However, immigration restrictions in the U.S. during the 1920s allowed a small number of immigrants into the country each year.
  • FDR was sympathetic to the pleas of help by refugees, but did not desire to jeopardize his foreign policy or offend American voters.
  • Followed by Hitlers 1938 Anschluss, thousands of Austrian Jews were turned away by Americans. (82% opposed the immigration)
  • In 1942, numerous reports that Hitler was implementing a "final solution" filtered out of the German-occupied Europe. Skeptical U.S. State Department officials refused to grant asylum to Jews. The U.S. Office of War Information worried that charging Germans with crimes against humanity might incite them to greater resistance and prolong the war.
  • The World Jewish Congress appealed to the Allies to bomb the death camps and railroad tracks leading to them in order to hamper the killing and block further shipments of victims. The Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy stated that the U.S. and her allies were intent on achieving military victory as soon as possible, arguing that air forces could not spare resources from their military missions.
  • When Russian troops arrived at Auschwitz in Poland in February 1945, they found emancipated prisoners, skeletal corpses, gas chambers, pits filled with human ashes and loot the Nazis had stripped from the dead, including hair, gold, fillings and false teeth.
  • In early October 1939, as Hitler's blitzkreig swept through Poland, FDR received a letter from renowned scientist Albert Einstein, which indicated that Hitler was attempting to harness nuclear energy in Germany. A group of refugee physicists asked Einstein to explain to FDR the military and political threats posed by the latest research in nuclear physics.

The Atomic Bomb

  • My God, what have we done?" - Robert Lewis co-pilot of the Enola Gay
  • In mid-July, as Allied forces prepared for the final assault on Japan, scientists in America, such as Robert Oppenheimer, tested a secret weapon at an isolated desert site near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  • In 1942, FDR authorized the top-secret Manhattan Project (named after preliminary research at Columbia University) to find a way to convert nuclear energy into a superbmomb before the Germans added such a weapon to their arsenal.
    Key Staff - Manhattan Project Scientists Who Invented the Atomic Bomb under the Manhattan Project: Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Otto Frisch, Rudolf Peierls, Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Emilio Segre, James Franck, Enrico Fermi, Klaus Fuchs and Edward Teller.
  • General Leslie Groves was asked to be the Director of the Manhattan Project.
  • A delegation of scientists & officials, troubled by the bombs destructive force, secretly proposed that the U.S. give a public demonstration of the bombs power, hoping to persuade Japan's leaders to surrender.
  • Robert Oppenheimer, though ecstatic about the success of the project, quoted a remembered fragment from the Bhagavad Gita. "I am become Death," he said, "the destroyer of worlds." Ken Bainbridge, the test director, told Oppenheimer, "Now we're all sons of bitches."
  • After viewing the results several participants signed petitions against loosing the monster they had created, but their protests fell on deaf ears.70 scientists disapporved of using the atomic bomb to end the war on ethical grounds. However, the U.S. rejected this idea as it only had 3 bombs in its arsenal.
  • Following the death of FDR, President Harry S. Truman first heard about the Project while at Potsdam, Germany, negoitating with Stalin about post-war issues.
  • Truman issued an ultimatum: Japan must surrender unconditionally or face utter ruin. When the Japanese failed to respond by the deadline given, Truman order the bomb be dropped on a Japaneese city not already damaged by American raids.

Japanese Internment Camps:

  • On February 19, 1942, FDR issued Executive Order 9066, which authoirzed sending all Americans of Japanese descent to ten makeshift prison camps located in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.
  • Allowed little time to secure or sell their property, Japanese Americans lost homes and business worith about $400 million and lived out the war penned in by barbed wire and armed guards.
  • The Supreme Court, in its 1944 Korematsu decision, upheld Executive Order 9066 "blatant violation of constitutional rights as justified by military necessity."

The Double V Campaign: African Americans during WII

  • African American soldiers and civilians were increasingly unwilling to quietly accept a segregated army or the discriminatory conditions they had previously endured. Fighting against Nazi Germany and its ideology of Aryan racial supremacy, Americans were confronted with the extensive racial prejudice in their own country.
  • FDR declared that "Black Americans were in war, not only to defend America, but to establish a universal freedom under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all-regardless of station, race or creed."
  • The Pittsburgh Courier, a leading Black newspaper called for a "Double V" campaign seeking "victory over our enemies at home and victory over our enemies on the battlefields abroad."
  • Over 2.5 million African American men and thousands of black women served in all branches of service and in all Theaters of Operations during World War II. Many black infantrymen were involved in the war in Europe and the war of the Pacific.
  • In addition Black support of war efforts from the home front was instrumental in achievement of success of allied forces. Northern black troops sent to the South for training often had violent encounters with white citizens there.
  • Labor leader A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters threatened a march on Washington, D.C. by hundreds of thousands of blacks in 1941 to protest job discrimination in defense industries and the military.
  • To avoid this protest, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, reaffirming the "policy of full participation in the defense program by all persons, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin." This order authoirzed the Committee on Fair Emplyment Practices to investigate and prevent racial discrimination in employment.
  • In 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality was established, and organized picketing and sit-ins against Jim Crow restaurants and theaters.
  • Even though an extreme shortage of nurses in World War II forced the federal government to seriously consider drafting white nurses, defense officials remained reluctant to recruit black nurses throughout the war. Allowing black nurses to care for whites was considered a violation of social norms.
  • The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, led by Mabel Staupers, and rights groups like the NAACP, loudly protested racial policies in the Army Nurse Corps and the military in general.
  • During World War II civil rights groups and black professional organizations pressed the government to provide training for black pilots on an equal basis with whites. Their efforts were partially successful. African American fighter pilots were trained as a part of the Army Air Force, but only at a segregated base located in Tuskegee, Alabama. Hundreds of airmen were trained and many saw action.
  • Toni Frissell became the first professional photographer permitted to photograph the all-black 332nd Fighter Pilot Squadron in a combat situation. She traveled to their air base in southern Italy, from where the "Tuskegee Airmen" flew sorties into southern Europe and North Africa.

Mexican Americans and WWII

  • World War II caused a tremendous labor shortage. When the military forces called for recruits, Mexican Americans responded in great number and went on to serve with distinction. Some 350,000 Chicanos served in the armed services and won 17 medals of Honor.
  • The war also brought industrial expansion, further aggravating the labor shortage caused by growth of the armed forces. Chicanos thus managed to gain entry to jobs and industries that had been virtually closed to them in the past. These new opportunities liberated many Chicanos from dependence on such traditional occupations as agriculture.
  • The turnaround from the labor surplus of the 1930s to the labor shortage of the 1940s had a special impact on agriculture and transportation. For help, the United States turned to Mexico, and in 1942 the two nations formulated the Bracero Program. From then until 1964, Mexican braceros were a regular part of the U.S. labor scene, reaching a peak of 450,000 workers in 1959. Most engaged in agriculture; they formed 26 percent of the nation's seasonal agricultural labor force in 1960.
  • Along with opportunities, World War II also brought increased tensions between Chicanos and law-enforcement agencies. Two events in Los Angeles brought this issue into focus.
  • In the Sleepy Lagoon case of 1942-1943, 17 Chicano youths were convicted of charges ranging from assault to first-degree murder for the death of a Mexican American boy discovered on the outskirts of the city. Throughout the trial, the judge openly displayed bias against Chicanos, and allowed the prosecution to bring in racial factors. Further, the defendants were not permitted haircuts or changes of clothing. In 1944, the Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee obtained a reversal of the convictions from the California District Court of Appeals, but the damage had been done. Los Angeles newspapers sensationalized the case and helped create an anti-Mexican atmosphere. Police harassed Chicano youth clubs, and repeatedly rounded up Chicano youth "under suspicion."
  • In the aftermath of the convictions and the press campaign, conflict broke out between U.S. servicemen in the area and young Mexican Americans who often dressed in the zoot suits popular during the wartime era. Soldiers and sailors declared open season on Chicanos, attacking them on the streets and even dragging them out of theaters and public vehicles.
  • Instead of intervening to stop the attackers, military and local police moved in afterward and arrested the Chicano victims. Spurred on by sensational, anti-Mexican press coverage of the "zoot-suit riots," these assaults spread throughout Southern California and even into Midwestern cities. A citizens' investigating committee appointed by the governor later reported that racial prejudice, discriminatory police practices, and inflammatory press coverage were among the principal causes of the riots.
  • The Sleepy Lagoon case and the zoot-suit affair provided the basis for Luis Valdez's Zoot Suit, which in 1979 became the first Chicano play to appear on Broadway.


  • February 1945: Yalta Conference & the Big Three, FDR, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stain at the Black Resort Sea resort of Yalta plan the postwar reconstruction of Europe.