The need for more laborers, soldiers, and support for the American cause during World War II dramatically altered American identity. However, at the time society was seemingly becoming more inclusive, some constitutionally questionable decisions were made that also altered the United States. Overall, World War II changed the face of the United States and set into motion movements that would transform what it meant to be an American in the decades to come.
As war seemed inevitable, Americans were called to factories to begin the process of rebuilding American military power and to also bolster America’s only free ally, Great Britain. Most factories employed white men exclusively as most unionized jobs were held by whites. As America seemed to be preparing for war A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, started a movement to allow African Americans to gain access to jobs preparing for the war effort. Mr. Randolph threatened a “March on Washington” if “loyal Negro citizens” were not granted the right to work in the common effort to defeat Nazi Germany (Doc. 1). President Franklin Roosevelt responded with an executive order to require that all industries with government contracts hire African Americans. As the United States entered the war, the call for soldiers increased, and millions of men volunteered to fight to defeat Germany and Japan, including African Americans. While still having to serve in segregated units that had white officers, thousands of African American men served proudly. An example of their ability to fight well was demonstrated by the all-black Tuskegee Airmen who flew many missions with distinction (Doc. 5). Although inequality lasted for the duration of the war, the foundations for a modern civil rights movement were being created as acceptance of African Americans into traditional roles in the military began to extend to other aspects of American life.
Women began to change their role in American society to one in which they would be looked upon as more of an equal to men. As the war progressed and more men went off to serve in the military, more women were required to take their place in factories. “Rosie the Riveter” became an American icon during the war, where she demonstrated her devotion to the cause to defeat the Axis Powers (Doc. 3). African American women made great strides in society as they left their traditional service jobs as maids and washer-women and also took the role of Rosie. Women also joined the military in the WACS, WAVES, and WASPS, and although they usually served in clerical positions, they were able to free more men to fight in the war effort. After the war ended, many women remained on the job as their husbands returned home and took advantage of the GI Bill and went to college. Women remaining on the job led to an evolution of a society with dual-income homes. Women’s identity as Americans thus was changing, as they became breadwinners and also gained respect as equals.
While African Americans and women were becoming more identified as equals and as “Americans,” Japanese Americans were forced to lose what little American identity they had gained. Executive order 9066, signed by FDR after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, forced thousands of Nisei and Issei to be sent to detention centers (Doc. 2). Families were forced to live in limited quarters with no freedoms. This action was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in the 1944 decision Korematsu v. U.S. as the fear of espionage and sabotage seemed to be very real in places like California after America was attacked by Japan (Doc. 6). Therefore, although African Americans and women were beginning to take on the identity as full citizens, Americans of Japanese descent did not.
As the constitutionality of the detention of a group of Americans was determined, the constitutionality of censorship was not. During World War II, Americans gave up some of the freedoms that identified them as Americans; for example, the U.S. mail was censored to potentially protect the well-being of American troops overseas (Doc. 4). Americans also temporarily lost the freedom to buy as much of certain products through rationing.
For the duration of World War II, American identity changed. Groups traditionally not granted full rights as citizens were gaining more respect from those who had had rights and power since the inception of the United States. Within twenty years of the conclusion of the war, African Americans and women had made legal gains that led them to equality; even Japanese Americans had made headway to a semblance of equality. And as the war ended, Americans expected their freedoms to be restored. While Americans held proudly to their identity, it was clear that they were willing to give up some of the ideals they held as part of their identity and were also willing to expand the scope of who was considered an American during a time of national emergency.
World War Ii Dbq
2355 WordsJun 22nd, 201110 Pages
World War II DBQ
After the deaths of 37,508,686 soldiers by the end of World War I, Europe was a mess. Countries had been dissolved and rearranged, governments had fallen and been replaced, and economies were thriving then crashing, all as a result from World War I. One of the main goals at the end of World War I was to prevent another tragedy like World War I from happening again. Clearly that did not happen, as World War II still happened, causing over 50 million deaths. The repercussions of World War I caused World War II due to radical ideology, bad economic conditions, and nationalism to the point of extremity. The rise of Fascism in Italy contributed to World War II because of it’s militaristic and nationalistic…show more content…
The British found out about Hitler “reoccupying the Rhineland” (Document #9),a direct violation against the League of Nations. Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States in 1918, proposed the idea of an international peace-keeping organization in his 14 Points speech. Germany was allowed to join the League of Nations through the Treaty of Locarno in 1925, in hopes that this organization would be able to help prevent any future world wars. Another violation of the League of Nations was Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. In World War I, Italy started out fighting on the side of the Germans and the Austrians and switched sides halfway through the war. The invasion of Ethiopia was a direct violation of Article X of the League of Nations, because not only was Ethiopia a member of the League of Nations, but the invasion resulted in the Italo-Ethiopian War, which started in October of 1935, right after Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. The Italians violated the rules of the League of Nations, but Germany also violated the Treaty of Versailles. Due to Germany taking back the colonies lost after World War I and forming an alliance with Austria, Germany’s actions against the Treaty of Versailles contributed to the cause of World War II. After Germany got slapped with a $33 Billion dollar war reparation bill and Kaiser Wilhelm was removed from power, Germany was a mess, which allowed the rise of Hitler. Hitler, being a former Iron Cross winning