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Ms. Gauntt's- 2nd Marking Period History Project Pathfinder WWII

The Assignment| African Americans in WWII | African American Medal of Honor Recipients| Adolf Hitler | German Concentration Camps| Japanese Relocation Camps| The Holocaust |Benito Mussolini | The New Deal | Pearl Harbor | Political Cartoons| Propaganda, OWI (Office of War Information) | Franklin D. Roosevelt | Joseph Stalin | Harry S. Truman| Science/Technology | Aircraft, Tanks |Atomic Bomb|

WWII Memorial

Ms. Gauntt's History Project -

2nd Marking Period - WWII

This pathfinder is meant to point you in the right direction in your research assignment for Ms. Gauntt's History class. It is by no means a complete representation of the history resources available on the subject. At the bottom of this pathfinder you will find a bibliography of books, biographies, etc. that you should also investigate.

If you have questions regarding this pathfinder's links/contents, or if you would like a pathfinder created for your own class, please see Ms. Massaro, the librarian, at your convenience.


The second raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Feb 23, 1945
© Joe Rosenthal


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AuschwitzConcentration/
ExterminationOswiecim, Poland (near Krakow)May 26, 1940Jan. 18, 1945Jan. 27, 1945
by Soviets1,100,000 BelzecExterminationBelzec, PolandMarch 17, 1942Liquidated by Nazis
December 1942600,000 Bergen-BelsenDetention;
Concentration (After 3/44)near Hanover, GermanyApril 1943April 15, 1945 by British35,000 BuchenwaldConcentrationBuchenwald, Germany (near Weimar)July 16, 1937April 6, 1945April 11, 1945
Self-Liberated; April 11, 1945
by Americans ChelmnoExterminationChelmno, PolandDec. 7, 1941;
June 23, 1944Closed March 1943 (but reopened);
Liquidated by Nazis
July 1944320,000 DachauConcentrationDachau, Germany (near Munich)March 22, 1933April 26, 1945April 29, 1945
by Americans32,000 Dora/MittelbauSub-camp of Buchenwald;
Concentration (After 10/44)near Nordhausen, GermanyAug. 27, 1943April 1, 1945April 9, 1945 by Americans DrancyAssembly/
DetentionDrancy, France (suburb of Paris)August 1941Aug. 17, 1944
by Allied Forces FlossenbürgConcentrationFlossenbürg, Germany (near Nuremberg)May 3, 1938April 20, 1945April 23, 1945 by Americans Gross-RosenSub-camp of Sachsenhausen;
Concentration (After 5/41)near Wroclaw, PolandAugust 1940Feb. 13, 1945May 8, 1945 by Soviets40,000 JanowskaConcentration/
ExterminationL'viv, UkraineSept. 1941Liquidated by Nazis
November 1943 Kaiserwald/
RigaConcentration (After 3/43)Meza-Park, Latvia (near Riga)1942July 1944 KoldichevoConcentrationBaranovichi, BelarusSummer 194222,000 MajdanekConcentration/
ExterminationLublin, PolandFeb. 16, 1943July 1944July 22, 1944
by Soviets360,000 MauthausenConcentrationMauthausen, Austria (near Linz)Aug. 8, 1938May 5, 1945
by Americans120,000 Natzweiler/
StruthofConcentrationNatzweiler, France (near Strasbourg)May 1, 1941Sept. 194412,000 NeuengammeSub-camp of Sachsenhausen;
Concentration (After 6/40)Hamburg, GermanyDec. 13, 1938April 29, 1945May 1945
by British56,000 PlaszowConcentration (After 1/44)Krakow, PolandOct. 1942Summer 1944Jan. 15, 1945 by Soviets8,000 RavensbrückConcentrationnear Berlin, GermanyMay 15, 1939April 23, 1945April 30, 1945
by Soviets SachsenhausenConcentrationBerlin, GermanyJuly 1936March 1945April 27, 1945
by Soviets SeredConcentrationSered, Slovakia (near Bratislava)1941/42April 1, 1945
by Soviets SobiborExterminationSobibor, Poland (near Lublin)March 1942Revolt on October 14, 1943; Liquidated by Nazis October 1943Summer 1944
by Soviets250,000 StutthofConcentration (After 1/42)near Danzig, PolandSept. 2, 1939Jan. 25, 1945May 9, 1945
by Soviets65,000 TheresienstadtConcentrationTerezin, Czech Republic (near Prague)Nov. 24, 1941Handed over to Red Cross May 3, 1945May 8, 1945
by Soviets33,000 TreblinkaExterminationTreblinka, Poland (near Warsaw)July 23, 1942Revolt on April 2, 1943; Liquidated by Nazis April 1943 VaivaraConcentration/
TransitEstoniaSept. 1943Closed June 28, 1944 WesterborkTransitWesterbork, NetherlandsOct. 1939April 12, 1945 camp handed over to Kurt Schlesinger

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AB Concentration Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum on line

For Further Reading:

Rita S. Botwinick, A History of the Holocaust: From Ideology to Annihilation. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996)

David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941–1945 (New York: Pantheon, 1984)

———. Paper Walls: America and the Refugee Crisis, 1938–1941 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968).

Text Citation:

Whitcomb, Julie. "Holocaust." In Jeffries, John W., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHVIII136&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).

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Adolf Hitler's Germany in World War II, he led his people to disaster.

Although he is closely associated in the popular mind with his wartime ally, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini emerged from a very different background. He was born on July 29, 1883, the son of a blacksmith with strong Socialist and anti-church beliefs. Young Mussolini, a spirited and unruly boy, imbibed his father's beliefs, which he embellished with the romantic, even mystical tendencies of his mother, who convinced her son that he was destined for greatness. Mussolini was an avid reader, who voraciously consumed the works of such political philosophers as Louis-Auguste Blanqui, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Georges Sorel, and, perhaps most significantly, Niccolo Machiavelli. Enamored of ideas, Mussolini attended the Salesian college of Faenza and the normal school, from which he obtained a teaching certificate. By the time he was 18, Mussolini received an appointment as a schoolteacher in the provinces. He then began to travel, spending a few years in Switzerland and the Austrian Trentino. As his experience broadened, he gave up teaching to pursue Socialist journalism.

In 1912, Mussolini became editor of the Milan Socialist Party newspaper Avanti! As a Socialist, he was strongly opposed to war and wrote articles arguing against Italy's entry into World War I. However, in perhaps the most momentous decision of his life, he suddenly abandoned the Socialist Party line and urged Italy's entry into the war on the side of the Allies. When the party responded to this change of heart by expelling him, Mussolini quickly started his own newspaper, Il popolo d'Italia, in Milan. It was in the pages of this paper that he evolved and broadcast the message of what became the Fascist movement. But first, Mussolini enlisted in the Italian army as a private in 1915, serving until he was wounded in the buttocks by trench mortar fragments early in 1917.

Following his convalescence, he resumed publication of his newspaper. On March 23, 1919, in part encouraged and inspired by the poet, novelist, romantic patriot, and glamorous adventurer Gabriele d'Annunzio, he and other war veterans founded in Milan a revolutionary nationalistic group they dubbed the Fasci di Combattimento. The Italian word fascio, "bundle" or "bunch," suggested union, and the fasces, a bundle of rods bound together around an ax with the blade protruding, was the ancient Roman symbol of power.

Mussolini's fascism quickly moved away from the Socialist left and became a radical right-wing nationalism—although, paradoxically, many of Mussolini's early pronouncements were more pro-labor and anti-church than anything even the Socialist left had yet advocated. But it was the nationalism, charged with visions of recreating ancient Roman imperial grandeur, that gained the enthusiastic support of the influential d'Annunzio, powerful landowners in the lower Po valley, important industrialists, and senior army officers. Mussolini also created squads of thugs, the Blackshirts, who waged a brutal street-level civil war against Socialists, Communists, Catholics, and liberals.

By 1922, Mussolini had moved very far from socialism and had gained the support of the moneyed and powerful, yet also commanded a vast following among the masses. On October 28, 1922, he led a Fascist march on Rome, obtaining a mandate from King Victor Emmanuel III to form a coalition government. Mussolini obtained dictatorial powers set to last one year. During this time, he reshaped Italy's economic structure, cutting government expenses for public services, reducing taxes on industry to encourage production, and centralizing and consolidating government bureaucracy. Such measures did indeed do much to boost Italy's lackluster economy. For many observers, the single most symbolic evidence of Mussolini's reforms was the fact that he introduced a new discipline into the notoriously undependable Italian railroad system, and "Mussolini made the trains run on time" became a kind of catch phrase used to characterize the early years of his regime.

During this period, Mussolini also replaced the king's guard with his own Fascist squadisti and secret police force, called the Ovra. He increased his prestige as a handler of foreign affairs when he responded to the murder of some Italian officials at the hands of bandits on the Greek-Albanian border by demanding a huge indemnity from the Greek government and bombarding and seizing the Greek island of Corfu. Mussolini also negotiated an agreement with Yugoslavia to obtain possession of the long-contested Fiume. In all of this, Mussolini at first avoided any direct attack on labor, though he was successful in brutally suppressing the strikes that traditionally plagued the country's industry.

In 1924, Mussolini ostensibly relinquished his dictatorial powers and called for new elections—after carefully securing legislation that would guarantee a two-thirds parliamentary majority for his party regardless of the popular vote. Among the handful of Socialists elected that year was Giacomo Matteotti, who embarked on a series of scathing speeches in opposition to Mussolini and the Fascists, exposing outrages ranging from acts of intimidation and violence, to misuse of public funds, to murder. When Matteotti's own murdered body was found shortly after these pronouncements, a lengthy parliamentary crisis developed, and the opposition press attacked Mussolini and his followers.

Mussolini responded by the outright imposition of a single-party dictatorship and a policy of strict censorship. His henchmen terrorized all opponents, even beating one liberal editor to death. In the meantime, Mussolini reinforced his power base among Italian capitalists by abolishing free trade unions. He also reached rapprochement with the Catholic church by the Lateran Treaty of 1929, by which the Vatican was established under the absolute temporal sovereignty of the pope.

Having secured his absolute dictatorship at home, Mussolini—now widely called Il Duce ("the Leader")—embarked on an aggressive foreign policy during the 1930s. Using as a pretext a clash over a disputed zone on the Italian Somaliland border, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia during 1935–36 without a declaration of war, brutally bombing and gassing the populace. On May 9, 1936, Italy annexed the African nation. During this period, Mussolini also assisted Generalissimo Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and developed an alliance with Adolf Hitler's Germany during 1936–39.

In April 1939, Mussolini sent his armies to occupy Albania, but stayed out of World War II until June 1940, when the fall of France was in the offing and Germany seemed unstoppable. Hitler welcomed his Italian partner, but soon had reason to regret the alliance, as Mussolini's military forces suffered disaster after disaster in Greece and North Africa.

By the middle of the war, the popular tide had turned against the dictator who had led the nation into an orgy of death and destruction, and the leaders of his own party abandoned him. King Victor Emmanuel dismissed Mussolini as premier on July 25, 1943, and ordered his arrest. But Hitler effected his rescue on September 12 and installed him as a puppet in northern Italy, which had yet to be taken by the Allies.

By the spring of 1945, Allied forces were closing in on Mussolini. In April, he and his mistress, Clara Petacci, fled, only to be captured by Italian partisans at Lake Como. The couple was executed by firing squad on April 28, and their bodies were hung in a public square in Milan.

Text Citation:

Axelrod, Alan, and Charles Phillips. "Mussolini, Benito." Dictators and Tyrants: Absolute Rulers and Would-Be Rulers in World History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 1995. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=lbio0021&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010


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Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a New Deal for the American people." Just what that "New Deal" entailed never became clear during the election of 1932, but the two words quickly became the identifying term for Roosevelt's candidacy and then his presidency. The New Deal's plethora of new programs and "alphabet" agencies to meet the crisis of the Great Depression had an enormous impact on the American people, economy, and political system. The New Deal created the modern American regulatory welfare state; it greatly increased the size, power, and cost of the federal government; it reshaped liberalism; it gave newvoice and influence to labor, farmers, and other groups; and it underlay the transformation of American politics that made the Democratic Party the new majority party of the country.

Efforts to understand and evaluate the New Deal by contemporaries and by scholars have taken a variety of forms and have produced a variety of interpretations. Three approaches have been especially fruitful. One is topical—to categorize and analyze New Deal programs in terms of their aims and substance. The second is chronological—to follow the unfolding of the New Deal year by year. The third is more judgmental and often ideological—to analyze just what difference the New Deal made and whether its impact was positive or negative.

Each of these three approaches has its shortcomings as well as its strengths, and there are other important ways to understand the New Deal. As one example, focusing on the personality and purposes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the most important and powerful presidents ever, obviously helps in explaining the New Deal—although the New Deal was also shaped by other members of the administration, by the Congress and the Supreme Court, by public opinion and politics, and by changing circumstances and unintended consequences. In any event, the three approaches sketched below have proved particularly useful in understanding and evaluating the complex set of programs that constituted the New Deal, and they can accommodate other perspectives.

The first interpretive or analytical framework is topical, to elucidate the aims and substance of New Dealprograms. The New Deal was above all an attempt to cope with the Great Depression and it involved three clear goals: to achieve economic recovery from the depths of the depression; to provide humanitarian assistance—relief—to the unemployed and destitute until recovery was achieved; and to enact social and economic reform to prevent another such depression from occurring and to shield citizens against its impact should another depression strike. This framework is often called the three R's—recovery, relief, and reform.

Some analysts might add a fourth goal, and a fourth R, to recovery, relief, and reform: reelection for Roosevelt and the Democrats. And not the least of the consequences of the New Deal was that the Democratic Party became the new majority party of the nation because of politics in the Roosevelt era and would remain so for decades beyond the 1930s. But while politics and reelection were important priorities of Roosevelt and the Democrats, and while the New Deal had profoundly important political effects, the three-R framework involves the New Deal itself, not New Deal–era politics.
Economic recovery was the overriding priority of Roosevelt and the New Deal. When Roosevelt took office in March 1933, national income was down by more than half, and the gross national product by almost half, from 1929 levels. Unemployment was at least 25 percent, and perhaps as high as 33 percent, of the labor force. Millions more were impoverished because of reduced hours and wages. Yet as late as 1940, after 10 years of the Great Depression and seven years of the New Deal, unemployment remained at the depression level of 15 percent. World War II, not the New Deal, ended the Great Depression.

But the New Deal did try to achieve recovery, and it did help bring some improvement in economic conditions. In 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) were implemented to use government planning and controls to bring recovery in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Both had important limits, failed to bring recovery, and were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the mid-1930s (the AAA was reinstituted in somewhat different form), but each contributed to stopping the downward slide.

From 1933 to 1936, economic indexes improved—not to prosperity levels, but to well above the 1933 lows. New Deal spending played a significant role in that expansion, though Roosevelt spent to finance his programs, not to produce Keynesian economic stimulus. On the other hand, New Deal regulation, taxation, and labor policy upset business and inhibited private investment needed to stimulate the economy.

In 1937, Roosevelt turned to tighter fiscal policy and monetary policy, confident that the economy was on the right track and worried about budget deficits and inflation. Then the recession of 1937–1938 struck, sending economic indexes down faster than—though not as far as—in the early years of the depression. This "Roosevelt Recession" caused a reconsideration of New Deal policy, and a turn toward Keynesianism and purposeful government deficit spending to stimulate the economy. The economy began to turn up again, but not until wartime economic mobilization and massive deficit spending did the nation reach full-production, full-employment prosperity.
If the New Deal failed to achieve full recovery, it did provide relief assistance for millions of unemployed and impoverished Americans. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) provided direct financial assistance beginning in 1933 and was supplemented by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the 1933–34 Civil Works Administration (CWA), both of which provided work relief in the form of jobs on government projects. In 1935, the largest New Deal relief agency, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) superseded the FERA and provided work relief for millions. (At the same time, the Social Security Act provided public assistance as well as old age and unemployment insurance.) The New Deal never provided relief aid to all who needed it, and relief payments were typically low. But the acceptance of federal responsibility for relief assistance was a major change, and millions of Americans were helped through hard times by government relief programs.

In addition to jobs and assistance, Roosevelt and the New Deal provided another kind of relief—relief of the spirit and psyche. Partly by means of his "fireside chats" over the radio, FDR was able to communicate to Americans his concern and optimism, and New Deal programs provided tangible effort that the president and the government understood and cared. The lifting of American spirits after the worst days of the early 1930s was surely one of the administration's achievements.
Finally, the New Deal sought to implement reforms to prevent or cushion another depression. The Banking Acts of 1933 and 1935 and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) strengthened the banking system. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made the stock market sounder and safer, and other regulatory agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sought to improve and stabilize sectors of the economy. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, or the Wagner Act) enabled labor to organize and bargain effectively. The Revenue Act of 1935 and other New Deal tax legislation sought to make taxation fairer and to increase government revenues. Partly as a result of the Executive Reorganization Act of 1939, the presidency became more powerful.
The New Deal also brought important social as well as institutional reform, including accepting federal responsibility for relief. The Social Security Act included old age and unemployment insurance, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established minimum wages and maximum hours. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) sought to help small farmers and migrant workers. The Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), refinanced or insured home and farm mortgages (and rescued many banks that had made mortgage loans), while the United States Housing Authority (USHA) began to provide public housing.

The three-R framework of recovery, relief, and reform thus provides a way to understand the New Deal as a whole and its efforts to ensure economic stability and security. But it is in an important sense a static framework, which does not trace the development and dynamics of New Deal policymaking. Here the second, or chronological framework, is useful. It helps to understand how and why New Deal priorities and programs evolved, and to link policymaking to politics and to the circumstances of the American people.
The chronological framework that has been used since the New Deal era itself distinguishes between the First New Deal of 1933 and the Second New Deal of 1935. In this interpretation, the First New Deal was concerned above all with recovery and relief, with its cornerstone agencies being the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and the Agricultural Adjustment Administration for recovery and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration for relief. The Second New Deal, by contrast, was concerned more with social reform, with its distinctive programs being the Works Progress Administration, the National Labor Relations Act, the Social Security Act, and the Revenue Act of 1935.
Critics of this framework complain, with reason, that it exaggerates differences and underestimates continuities. Early New Deal programs persisted into 1935 and after, for example, while some of the new 1935 programs either had precursors in the early New Deal (the Wagner Act had origins in Section 7(a) of the NIRA, for example), or had been in the planning stages for some time. The 1933 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had been a reform, as had implementing relief programs. Throughout the 1930s, the New Deal sought recovery and relief and reform.

Still, there was a different focus to the 1933 and the 1935 legislation, and circumstances and politics can help to explain the change. In 1933, at the depths of the depression, the compelling need was to stop the economic collapse and get help to people. By 1935, the economy was doing better, and new reform measures had been developed. The political situation was also different by 1935. Such critics of the New Deal as Huey Long and Francis Townsend complained that Roosevelt had not done nearly enough for the poor and the elderly. The Congress elected in 1934 was more liberal and far readier to accept reform programs for the poor and the working class—and, in the case of the Wagner Act, to insist upon such reform, despite little initial interest or support from Roosevelt and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. The Second New Deal was thus to a significant degree a product of changing political dynamics.
The legislative achievements of the First and Second New Deals of 1933 and 1935 were extraordinary and laid the foundations of the modern regulatory welfare state. But after his landslide reelection in the election of 1936, Roosevelt never again had such successes. The conservative coalition in Congress thwarted much of his second-term agenda, and then foreign policy and World War II changed the administration's focus and priorities.

Recently, however, scholars have identified a Third New Deal in Roosevelt's second and third terms. This third stage of the New Deal was distinguished partly by a more conservative atmosphere in Washington and the nation, the result of the ongoing strength of American conservatism and adverse reactions to the 1937–38 recession, Roosevelt's court-packing plan, and labor unrest. But the Third New Deal was also characterized by the growing emphasis in liberal policy on macroeconomic fiscal policy to achieve full-production, full-employment prosperity instead of the earlier efforts at microeconomic regulation and control and at redistributive economic and social policies. (It also included a new antimonopoly thrust, including the formation of the Temporary National Economic Committee, though this ultimately had little impact.) The Third New Deal, characterized by a more conservative political climate and by the new Keynesian agenda, was as important to postwar politics and government as were the First and Second New Deals, which produced the regulatory welfare state and the new Democratic majority.

Taken together, the topical approach of recovery, relief, and reform, and the chronological approach of the First, Second, and Third New Deals provide intersecting and complementary frameworks for understanding, analyzing, and explaining the New Deal and its development. Such understanding provides the essential basis for the third interpretive framework—evaluating or judging the New Deal. What difference did it make? Was it good or bad? Did it go too far or not far enough?

The basic viewpoints about the New Deal were largely established in the 1930s and have been reiterated and embellished since. Conservatives have called the New Deal a bad thing that went much too far. In this view, the New Deal harmed the American political system by making the federal government (and the presidency) too big and too powerful. It weakened the American economy by wasteful spending and by government intrusiveness and regulation that impaired the free enterprise system, and by labor and tax policies that prevented economic recovery by alienating business. And the New Deal, it is said, had an adverse impact on the American people by making them dependent upon government and eroding principles of individualism. In the conservative interpretation, Roosevelt was an erratic, devious, and misinformed leader concerned more about politics and reelection than about the public good.
From the opposite perspective, analysts and scholars on the left have complained from the start that the New Deal merely shored up corporate capitalism, that it helped business and the upper class more than workers and the poor, that it did not redistribute wealth or income and only partly redistributed power, and that it did virtually nothing to advance African Americans or civil rights. In this view, Roosevelt was a calculating president, protecting corporate capitalism with his programs while winning support from working-class and lower-middle-class Americans and from minority groups with his rhetoric. "New Left" scholars of the 1960s reprised such contemporary 1930s criticism. More recently, some scholars have also criticized the New Deal for doing little to improve women's status and rights.
But if the New Deal and Franklin D. Roosevelt have been criticized from right and left, they have also been celebrated and defended. Liberals then and since have rejoiced in New Deal reform that accepted responsibility for assistance to the poor and unemployed, challenged business and the wealthy, enabled the organization of powerful labor unions, strengthened the nation's economic institutions, created a broker state where the power of business was rivaled by that of government and often by labor and farmers as well, and that gave African Americans, women, Jews, Catholics, and other groups a larger voice in American government. They have praised Roosevelt for championing such causes and achieving such results. In this view, the New Deal profoundly changed the nation—and for the better.


Each of these judgmental frameworks can adduce significant evidence in support of its views. But each also has shortcomings or blind spots. The conservative criticism, for example, often goes too far, with claims that the New Deal was socialist or fascist. In fact, most New Dealers wanted to strengthen and protect American capitalism by reforming it—and the modern mixed economy of government regulation and support of private enterprise did just that. Similarly, radical critiques point out shortcomings and limits of the New Deal, but often overlook successes and achievements. While correct that New Dealers, including FDR, were often cautious and even conservative reformers, operating within the traditions of American democratic capitalism, they often miss the degree to which the limits of the New Deal were imposed by the conservatism and antistatism of the culture, by opponents in Congress, by resistant, or racist, local officials who implemented New Deal programs, by events at home and abroad. And the admiring liberal accounts of the New Deal often exaggerate its virtues and successes and fail adequately to take into account significant criticisms from the right and the left.
Wherever one ultimately stands on the several evaluative frameworks of the New Deal, each raises important questions, rests on substantive evidence, and provokes reflection than can illuminate the New Deal and lead to still more questions and insights. Conflicting interpretations of the New Deal show no signs of ending, and scholars and others will continue to search for valid understandings and evaluations of the New Deal.

For Further Reading:

Anthony J. Badger, The New Deal: The Depression Years, 1933–1940 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1989)

Alan Brinkley, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Knopf, 1995)

Paul Conkin, The New Deal, 3d ed. (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1992)

David E. Hamilton, ed., The New Deal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999)

David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)

William E. Leuchtenburg, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932–1940 (New York: Harper & Row, 1963)

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Roosevelt, 3 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956–1960)

Harvard Sitkoff, ed., Fifty Years Later: The New Deal Evaluated (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985).

Text Citation:

Jeffries, John W. "New Deal." In Jeffries, John W., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHVIII212&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).

NYA

The Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of the Second New Deal. Its mission was to create vocational training and employment opportunities for the nation's youth, many of whom were underserved by First New Deal programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Federal Emergency Relief Association (FERA). Unlike the CCC, the NYA extended its services and benefits to women, providing them with training and employment in the educational, clerical, and library sectors, among others.


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Pearl Harbor

See the Pearl Harbor War Museum

In a surprise aerial attack, the Japanese bombed the U.S. fleet in Franklin D. Roosevelt and his pro-Allied advisers, eager to overcome public opposition to American intervention in World War II, had deliberately left Pearl Harborexposed to Japan and suppressed reports that would have permitted American forces to anticipate the raid and take advance precautionary measures. Some historians have claimed, without substantiation to date, that the Soviet Union and Britain possessed this information but, desiring full-scale American involvement in the war, concealed it from Washington. Evidence suggests that bureaucratic failures within the State, War, and Navy Departments and the U.S. military in coordinating and interpreting intelligence intercepts were largely responsible, compounded by a last-minute communications blunder that delayed the transmission to Hawaii of warning of the raid. Repeated congressional investigations placed much of the blame for American unpreparedness upon Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Campbell Short, the army commander in Hawaii. Both of them were demoted a rank in consequence. The investigations also found Roosevelt, Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and Secretary of the Navy William Franklin Knox at fault. The failure to predict the Pearl Harbor attack generated substantial pressure to establish an intelligence agency to coordinate classified information and prevent future such disasters.

Further Information:

Borg, Dorothy, and Shumpei Okamoto, eds. Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931–1941. New York: Columbia University Press, 1973

Conroy, Hilary, and Harry Wray, eds. Pearl Harbor Reexamined: Prologue to the Pacific War. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990

Goldstein, Donald M., and Katherine V. Dillon, eds. Pearl Harbor: Inside the Japanese Plans.Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1993

Iriye, Akira. Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War: A Brief History with Documents and Essays. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999

Love, Robert W., Jr., ed. Pearl Harbor Revisited. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995

Prange, Gordon William, with Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986

Weintraub, Stanley. Long Day's Journey Into War: December 7, 1941. New York: Dutton, 1991

Wohlstetter, Roberta. Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1982.

Text Citation:

Roberts, Priscilla. "Pearl Harbor." In Tucker, Spencer C., gen. ed. Encyclopedia of American Military History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2003. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EMHIII0021&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).


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More production!

The War Production Board circulated this poster in 1942. Propaganda efforts such as this aimed to stimulate patriotism and self-sacrifice while at the same time mobilizing the economic production of the country to war-production levels. The government and the private sector worked together to coordinate the massive outlay needed for the country to survive a war against its better-prepared enemies. War Production Board edicts controlled the economy by allocating raw materials, prohibiting the manufacture of nonessential products, and offering inducements to industry.

I want you

Manpower shortages forced the United States to actively recruit women into the workforce. The government used propaganda posters such as this one, portraying a women working on a case for a bomb, as heroines and patriots. Following the war, however, women were encouraged to return to the home and leave their jobs to men.

women working

Less than two weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's entry into World War II, President Roosevelt established the Office of Censorship. The agency examined radio and newspaper stories, movie scripts, and personal overseas letters to weed out any information that might threaten national security. By the war's end, 90 offices were scanning more than a million letters a day and stamping them with the words "Opened by Censor." The propaganda effort helped make self-censorship a patriotic duty.

censored wanted for murder someone talked

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Man the guns warning Nazi brutality buy war bonds

what have you done united we win we can do it women in the war action save the meat careless talk


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Here are a few Russian Cartoons

Russian propaganda cartoon 1940s This is a Russian anti-Nazis cartoon.

Anti-Nazi Russian Cartoon

Translation: Napoleon suffered defeat, and the same goes for you, you conceited Hitler!

These are French and British:

Take up the sword of justice books wanted stomp Leave this to us

Britain Needs You French cartoon French Cartoon They shall not pass


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German WWII Propaganda Cartoons:

Victory over Chaos Work as hard as they fight. Work as hard as they fight.

German Propaganda Poster reads: Work as hard as they fight!

Victory (on the left) or Chaos (on the right)


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Office of War Information, formed in June 1942, consisted of both domestic and overseas branches. Domestically, the OWI produced literature portraying the war in clear good-versus-evil terms, and assisted film producers in portraying the conflict in similar ways. Although successful in enhancing national unity and morale, the domestic OWI was often criticized for glorifying Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration. The overseas OWI, in its publications, in literature placed in OWI-sponsored reading rooms in neutral, liberated, and Allied nations, and in Voice of America radio broadcasts heard worldwide, portrayed the American war effort and the nation's war aims in similar lofty and high-minded terms. The OWI emphasized the truth, although often in simplistic and vague news reports. In spite of its critics, however, who maintained that the office was attempting to globalize the New Deal, the overseas OWI did lift morale and promote unity among the populations of Allied and Axis-occupied nations.

With respect to combat propaganda, the overseas OWI cooperated with U.S. Army psychological warfare units in the combat theaters abroad. OWI assisted military propagandists with the production of "white" or overt propaganda leaflets and radio broadcasts that had some success in helping to weaken the morale and fighting ability of Axis military forces, especially in the latter days of the war. The Office of Strategic Services, in cooperation with the OWI and the British Political Warfare Executive, produced a variety of covert or "black" psychological warfare programs, although their effectiveness and utility were often in doubt.

Clayton D. Laurie, The Propaganda Warriors: America's Crusade against Nazi Germany (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996)

Allan M. Winkler, The Politics of Propaganda: The Office of War Information, 1942–1945 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978).

Text Citation:

Laurie, Clayton D. "propaganda during World War II." In Jeffries, John W., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHVIII245&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).

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Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Office of War Information (OWI) in June 1942 to manage the dissemination of government information during New Deal in very flattering terms. The magazine also contrasted the New Deal with such "reactionaries" as former Republican president Herbert C. Hoover. Such OWI material, some of it distributed to GIs as well, persuaded many in the Republican Party that OWI was part of FDR's fourth-term campaign effort for the election of 1944. It led to considerable opposition to some OWI activities in Congress.

In addition to its informational and propaganda duties, the OWI included an Officeof Censorship, under Associated Press news editor Byron Price, which monitored incoming and outgoing international communications, including films, that did not fall under armed forces censorship. And the OWI's Bureau of Motion Pictures not only produced and released its own films but also worked successfully to persuade Hollywood to portray acceptable themes in its wartime movies.

As victory over the Axis powers (Germany, Japan and Italy) seemed increasingly likely, and the OWI thus less necessary, and as the agency provoked opposition among conservatives and Republicans, Congress cut off most Domestic Branch funding in 1943, sharply curtailing its activities, and continued to scrutinize the Overseas Branch. President Harry S. Truman dissolved the OWI at the end of the war in August 1945.

Text Citation:

Jeffries, John W. "Office of War Information (OWI)." In Jeffries, John W., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHVIII225&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).

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As TR's political star was fading, FDR's was in its ascendancy. FDR was on the same pathway that TR had followed to the White House. For example, he resigned his state senate seat in 1913 to become assistant secretary of state in the Wilson administration; "Uncle Ted" had held the same position in the William McKinley administration. The Roosevelt name and World War I catapulted FDR to prominence as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1920. The Democratic ticket failed that year in voter backlash against the activism of the Wilson administration, but FDR's spirited campaign solidified his reputation as a rising star among national Democrats. Equally important, FDR had observed the blunders Wilson made in foreign policy because of his psychological rigidity as well as blunders that TR made because of his occasional excesses, and he learned from them. Franklin Roosevelt never achieved the scholarly heights of Woodrow Wilson or Teddy Roosevelt; he focused more on practical politics. Although not their academic equal, FDR nevertheless absorbed the intellectual lessons from pragmatism. He had been introduced to pragmatism, America's unique philosophical school, in classes at Harvard taught by the philosophy's founder, William James. This enabled FDR to avoid the costly political mistakes that TR and Wilson had made. His full grasp of pragmatism would soon reveal itself.

In 1921, FDR was stricken with polio. The devastating illness not only threatened his life and permanently paralyzed his legs but also threatened to halt his political momentum. In the same way that FDR had looked to TR as his political role model, TR's resiliency and triumph over major personal crises—overcoming a sickly childhood and enduring the deaths of his first wife and mother on the same day—served as inspiration for FDR as he battled polio and the paralysis that followed. Rather than yield to paralysis, Roosevelt spent several years in physical therapy with limited success while he focused on resuming his political career. Eleanor, one of the gifted inner circle that surrounded him, helped him to keep his name politically alive while he convalesced. She evolved into his full political partner and equal in the White House and remained a political power in her own right until her death.

New York governor Al Smith, the Democratic Party presidential candidate in 1928, persuaded FDR to run as his successor. Roosevelt narrowly won, becoming one of the few Democrats to survive Herbert Hoover's Republican landslide that year. Reelected governor in 1930, FDR experimented with programs to deal with the growing economic depression that had resulted from the 1929 Wall Street crash. As governor of the nation's most populous state and a successful campaign veteran, FDR was a leading contender for the 1932 Democratic presidential ticket.

After a deal was struck with the Texas delegation during the 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago to make John Nance Garner, speaker of the House of Representatives, his vice-presidential running mate, FDR won the presidential nomination on the fourth ballot. For only the second time in the history of national conventions, the presidential nominee showed up at the convention that year. Teddy Roosevelt had been the first in 1912; 20 years later, Franklin Roosevelt followed in his political footsteps. FDR promised "a New Deal for the American people" while also promising reduced governmental spending and a balanced budget. Despite the contradictions his promises suggested, the worsening Great Depression worked in the Democrats' favor. Herbert Hoover and Charles Curtis had been renominated as the Republican ticket at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Voters, however, blamed the party in power for the nation's economic crisis and embraced the optimistic man with the enthusiastic smile to help the crippled nation get back on its feet, just as he had apparently overcome polio.

On November 8, 1932, Roosevelt garnered 22,821,857 votes (57.4%) to Hoover's 15,761,841 (39.6%). Moreover, by carrying 42 states, the Democrats achieved overwhelming majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

FDR's first term as president began in March 1933, and during the first 100 days of his administration, he revealed his energetic and flexible character through an unprecedented ad hoc experimental program involving reform and regulation of the economy and public reassurances to the nation. Congress quickly enacted an ambitious legislative package that ranged from the Civilian Conservation Corps to the Tennessee Valley Authority Act. The legislation served to redefine the role of the national government in American society.

From the country's founding, "negative government"—championed by Thomas Jefferson, who asserted that "the best government is the least government"—had largely served as the basis for the federal government. The New Deal represented a switch to "positive government," which allowed the federal government to step in when conditions exceeded the power of individuals alone to deal with them. This new activist approach and FDR's confident pronouncements inspired the American public with hope. He was aided in implementing the New Deal by a large group of young lawyers who largely staffed many key positions in his administration. These lawyers were influenced by the new school of jurisprudence from the 1920s known as "legal realism." The legal realists thought the law should adapt to changing conditions. It was the most important school of jurisprudence during the 20th century and it helped to make the New Deal successful.

In 1935, Congress enacted two of the most significant pieces of legislation in its history. Based on a committee chaired by Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, the first female cabinet member, and the energetic support of German-born senator Robert F. Wagner (D-N.Y.), often referred to as the chief legislative architect of the New Deal, Congress passed the Social Security Act. It was America's first social insurance system. In 1940, the Social Security Board began to issue monthly checks to eligible senior citizens. By 1997, one in seven Americans was receiving Social Security benefits. In 1935, Congress also enacted the landmark National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), often called the Wagner Act. Regarded by many as labor's Magna Carta, it recognized employees' right to organize for the first time and made collective bargaining a part of the economic recovery policy of the New Deal.

If the 1932 election primarily expressed public disgust with "Hoover's Depression," the sign of the changing times was that the Democrats gained congressional seats in the 1934 election, an atypical midterm elections outcome for the party in the White House. In 1936, the Republican National Convention met in Cleveland to chose Kansas governor Alfred E. Landon, a former Bull Mooser, as its presidential candidate on the first ballot. Frank Knox, publisher of the Chicago Daily News, was chosen as Landon's running mate.

Riding the crest of the New Deal, the FDR-Garner ticket was renominated by acclamation at the 1936 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The New Deal, started as economic chicken soup for the nation, became the alphabet soup of federal agencies and laws. For example, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) addressed the needs of farmers. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed the jobless. The Public Works Administration (PWA) helped state and local governments build highways and bridges. In keeping with national changes, FDR adapted a new persona for the 1936 election, that of a warrior fighting the "economic royalists." Funded by organized labor, his leadership attracted a coalition of ethnic voter groups. Pitted against demagogues on the left and right, FDR won in a landslide—27,751,597 (60.8%) to 16,679,583 (36.5%) popular votes. He carried every state except Maine and Vermont.

As typically happens during a second presidential term, FDR was considerably more controversial and less successful than he was in his first term. In early 1936, he appointed the President's Committee on Administrative Management, popularly known as the Brownlow Committee, and charged it with recommending changes that would enable the chief executive to manage efficiently the modern welfare state that had emerged with the New Deal. Justifiably considered the most important study on the executive branch since the Federalist Papers, the Brownlow Report was issued in early January 1937. Its conclusions recommended granting to the president managerial power commensurate with his role in overseeing the early stages of what would ultimately become the largest bureaucracy in the world. Uncharacteristically, FDR failed to lay the necessary political groundwork of consulting with Congress on the proposal, and his failure played into the hands of his opponents, who charged that he was merely trying to consolidate more power into his own hands. The stressful battle for the Brownlow bill caused its namesake, Louis Brownlow (1879–1963), to have a heart attack that removed him from the legislative struggle.

The battle between FDR and his congressional opponents intensified the next month with FDR's second, even larger political blunder, the Supreme Court packing plan, in which he repeated the misstep he had made with the Brownlow bill.

Between January 1935 and June 1936, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a dozen judicial activist decisions declaring New Deal legislation unconstitutional. Believing that a constitutional amendment to change the court composition would take too long to pass, FDR had Attorney General Homer S. Cummings secretly draft a plan that would enable him to overcome Court opposition to the popularly supported New Deal legislation. On February 7, 1937, the president announced the Judicial Reform Bill of 1937, decried as the "Court packing plan." It allowed for the appointment of one new Supreme Court justice for each one of the justices who did not retire at age 70. At the time, six sitting justices were at least 70 years old. The proposal's real intent—to appoint enough justices who favored FDR's New Deal legislation to stop the decisions finding it unconstitutional—was only transparently cloaked by broadening it to allow for 44 new judges on the lower federal benches.

The number of justices on the high bench is fixed by statute rather than in the Constitution, and court enlargement schemes had precedents from the Civil War. The last attempt to assure a younger judiciary had come in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson's attorney general, James C. McReynolds, devised a scheme that ultimately served as the basis for FDR's plan. Wilson had not pursued the plan, and in an ironic twist, McReynolds was now one of the four most conservative of the Supreme Court brethren, dubbed the Four Horsemen to invoke the biblical image of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

FDR went forward with his bold plan, drawing immediate and vocal opposition from Republicans, newspaper editors, and the organized bar. The proposal had considerable support among New Dealers, including future justices Fred Vinson (D-Ky.), then in the House of Representatives, and Hugo Black (D-Ala.), then in the U.S. Senate. Other heavyweights in FDR's corner were Solicitor General Stanley Reed and his immediate successor, Robert H. Jackson, who helped Roosevelt prepare the March 9, 1937, "fireside chat," a presidential radio broadcast justifying the proposal to the American people. FDR was also counting on the leadership of popular Joseph T. Robinson (D-Ark.), Senate majority leader, to ensure its passage. It was made clear to Robinson that he would be the president's first nominee to the expanded Court. However, the bill was doomed after Robinson suffered a fatal heart attack on July 14, eight days after Senate debate began on the bill. The president's position had weakened after the Court began handing down decisions that upheld New Deal measures, including the Wagner Act. Contemporaneously, Willis Van Devanter, one of the Four Horsemen, timed the announcement of his decision to retire from the Court for the same day that the House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to begin hearings on the bill.

The Court-packing scheme was a costly and avoidable political blunder for an activist president. FDRwould have been better served by withdrawing the bill after the Court began changing its stance on New Deal legislation. FDR's Brownlow plan to reorganize and strengthen the Executive Branch was postponed for more than two years as a result and finally implemented in a much-weakened format in the Reorganization Act of 1939 and subsequent legislation. Roosevelt may have "lost the battle but won the war" in regard to the Supreme Court's reaction to the New Deal, but the victory was politically expensive: it contributed to the rise of the "conservative coalition" of southern Democrats and Republicans in Congress capable of blocking further New Deal legislation when they were united. Ironically, FDR, who had been unable to name a single justice to the High Court during his first term, would go on to name more justices than any other president since George Washington. In that way, he ultimately did "pack" the Court. Nonetheless, the ill-fated 1937 bills resulted in FDR being thwarted twice, something that had not happened since his initial inauguration in 1933.

The midterm congressional elections of 1938 amplified FDR's setbacks. He had tried to purge the most anti-New Deal conservative Democrats in the primary elections for Congress, but his campaign efforts failed. Republican gains in the U.S. House of Representatives increased from 88 to 170 and from 17 to 25 in the Senate. Whether FDR's political blunders resulted from hubris induced by the landslide reelection or because he was distracted from domestic issues by the mounting fascist threat in Europe and the Japanese threat in the Pacific remains an open question.

The 1940 election was set against the backdrop of the war in Europe. At the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in June, political outsider Wendell Willkie was named presidential candidate on the sixth ballot, with Senator Charles L. McNary from Oregon as his running mate. Both were relative moderates. The Democrats met in Chicago in July and on the first ballot nominated FDR for an unprecedented third term. He imposed Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace on the convention as his vice-presidential running mate. Wallace was a loyal and liberal New Dealer with prior family support for Theodore Roosevelt. Both Willkie and Roosevelt conducted active campaigns in an election race that returned FDR to the White House with 27,243,466 popular votes (54.7%) compared to Willkie's 22,304,744 votes (44.8%). Despite the win, the Democratic ticket carried only 38 states and gained only seven House seats in the 1940 election.

FDR's moniker "Dr. New Deal" rapidly morphed into "Dr. Win-the-War." He had already persuaded Congress to repeal the Neutrality Acts from the 1930s. In March 1941, Congress passed his Lend-Lease Act to help the British. Five months later, in August 1941, FDR officially met with British prime minster Winston Churchill for the first time aboard the American cruiser Augusta off Newfoundland. There they signed the Atlantic Charter, which called for an end to fascism as well as for the right to national self-determination. FDR recognized that the days of colonialism were doomed but Churchill stubbornly still clung to his traditional notion of preserving the British Empire. In November 1941, FDR extended lend-lease assistance to the Soviet Union as well. Then, on December 7, Japan conducted its sneak bombing attack on Pearl Harbor. The next day Congress declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States; Congress reciprocated the declarations of war. The largest war in history was under way.

FDR sought to make the war a bipartisan effort, appointing several Republicans to high office. He named Henry Stimson as secretary of war, Frank Knox as secretary of the navy, and Harlan Fiske Stone as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Once in the war, FDR quickly decided to focus on defeating the Nazis in Europe first before turning full military attention to Japan. In early 1942, he committed a moral blunder that stained America's democratic image with his decision to intern more than 100,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were native-born American citizens.

FDR's level of physical activity as chief executive officer and commander in chief belied his physical paralysis. Well traveled during his youth and early adulthood, he vicariously followed international events daily as he worked on his beloved stamp collection. Moreover, he flew to Casablanca, Morocco, in January 1943 to meet with Churchill. In November that same year he flew to Tehran, Iran, for another meeting with Churchill and, for the first time, Joseph Stalin. Rather than exhausting him, the trips seemed to energize the president.

FDR continued his efforts toward planning a postwar world that began as early as August 1941 with the principles set forth in the Atlantic Charter. In July 1944, he convened an international conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, that resulted in creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Dumbarton Oaks conference was held in Washington, D.C., in August 1944 for representatives from the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China to plan the groundwork for the United Nations.

During World War II, the conservative coalition (consisting of Republican and conservative Democrats) in Congress not only blocked the president from launching further social-reform legislation but also was able to dismantle many New Deal agencies. However, FDR helped to craft a third major piece of landmark legislation during his administration, the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944—popularly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights. It was a worthy middle-class successor to Abraham Lincoln's Land Grant College Act of 1862, which helped transform higher education in the United States. Almost half a million former American soldiers would go to college under provisions of the G.I. Bill of Rights legislation. (By 1956, almost 9 million veterans had taken advantage of the educational and vocational provisions of the programs that provided tuition, books, and living expenses. At the same time that the G.I. Bill of Rights was allowing veterans to improve their education, the Veteran Administration's low-interest loans for buying houses, farms, and small businesses were making home ownership a realistic goal for the returning veterans while at the same time stimulating a housing boom in growing suburbs.)

FDR's last hurrah came in 1944. Neither the war effort nor the midterm election had gone well in 1942, reflected in the Democrats' loss of 47 House seats. But in 1944, Americans went to the polls in the middle of a war for only the second time in U.S. history. The Republican National Convention had met in Chicago in late June and chosen New York governor Thomas E. Dewey on the first ballot; Ohio governor John Bricker was named as his running mate. The Democrats met in mid-July and picked FDR for an unprecedented fourth term. Political operatives forced Roosevelt to drop Henry Wallace from the ticket, and Harry Truman was nominated as the vice-presidential candidate on the second ballot. The stress of the war and ill health, however, were taking their toll on FDR, and it was beginning to show. Although he did not campaign until late in the election cycle, and the popular vote dropped by nearly 2 million votes, FDR still defeated Dewey, 25,602,504 (53.4%) to 22,006,285 (45.9%). The results were similar to 1940.

The Allied war effort was also clearly on the road to victory. Allied forces landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and by August had liberated Paris. In January 1945, FDR made his final trip abroad, flying to Yalta for a meeting with Churchill and Stalin. They agreed on the postwar occupation of Germany and the creation of what became the United Nations.

In April 1945, FDR left Washington for a vacation at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia. He died there on April 12 after suffering a massive stroke. Yet his legacy continued, in part because Eleanor Roosevelt worked to extend it through the United Nations during the postwar era. From a domestic perspective,FDR had helped to change the United States's philosophy of government from one that preferred the negative government advocated by Thomas Jefferson to one that approved of positive government, and he institutionalized the modern presidency. On the international front, he helped to create a new world order that ended American isolationism and European colonialism. Through his active leadership, FDRnot only demonstrated to the world the potential of the United States's great experiment in self-government but achieved his early personal goal of surpassing Theodore Roosevelt's accomplishments. In the opinion of most historians and commentators, his was the finest political performance of the 20th century.

FDR and Churchill

This is a colorized photograph of Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin meeting at the end of WWII.

Text Citation:

Pederson, William D. "Franklin D. Roosevelt, presidency of." The FDR Years, Presidential Profiles. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=TFDRY001&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).


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Adolf Hitler, the Soviet communist leader Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin stands as one of the most ruthless and destructive figures of the twentieth century. During his rule Stalin's reach extended into virtually every aspect of life in the Soviet Union, and millions of Soviet citizens perished as a result of his decrees. His surname was originally Dzhugashvili, but in 1913 he changed it to Stalin, or "man of steel." The son of a Georgian shoemaker, he was expelled from the Tbilisi Theological Seminary in 1899 as a result of his interest in the Marxist revolutionary movement. While still a student, he joined the Russian Social Democratic Party in the Caucasus. He became a disciple of Lenin after the party's split in 1903 into the Bolshevik and Menshevist factions. Having worked in the underground movement in Transcaucasia, he was made part of the Bolshevik central committee by Lenin and Zinoviev. Stalinleft the Caucasus for St. Petersburg in 1911, where he began editing the Communist party's newspaper, Pravda (or "Truth" in Russian). Pravda would later become the official daily paper of the Communist Party in the U.S.S.R. In 1913 Stalin was arrested and exiled to North Siberia, where he remained until he was granted amnesty after the February Revolution of 1917. Upon his return to St. Petersburg (then renamed Petrograd), Stalin once more became an editor of Pravda.

After the October Revolution of 1917, Stalin entered the Soviet cabinet as the people's commissar for nationalities (1919–1923) and became one of Lenin's close collaborators. During the civil war (1918 to 1920) he played a prominent role on the military front. In 1922 he was appointed secretary general of the central committee of the party, but Lenin had misgivings about Stalin's suitability for this position and was planning to remove him—he died before he could do so. After Lenin's death Stalin's political career continued unchecked. Stalin, Zenoviev, and Kamenev joined together to defeat Trotsky, who had gained prestige and military connections as a revolutionary leader. After Trotsky's ouster from the Communist Party, Stalin allied with Bukharin to turn against Zinoviev and Kamenev in the struggle for power. They attempted to regain their positions with the help of Trotsky but were eventually forced to resign from the Communist Party's central committee. Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Ordzhonikidze, and Kirov then helped Stalin to defeat Bukharin and Rykov's opposition on the right. From 1929 to 1934 Stalin ruled with them, although he assumed a leadership role; when Kirov, his lieutenant, was murdered in 1934, Stalin instigated a political purge that involved prosecutions for an alleged plot to overthrow the Stalin government. In the purge trials, many Bolsheviks, including Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rykov, and Bukharin, pled guilty to the accusations and were executed. In 1940, with Stalin as official head of government and chairman of the state defense committee, a reign of terror ensued.

Until 1934 Stalin pursued the Soviet policy of friendship with Germany. After Adolf Hitler became Germany's chancellor in 1933, Stalin joined the League of Nations in an attempt to gain international acceptance for the Soviet Union. When his attempt for rapprochement with Great Britain and France failed, Stalin joined in a nonaggression pact with Germany (1939). The pact was intended to keep the U.S.S.R. out of World War II. When Stalin refused to believe numerous intelligence reports of an impending German attack, the Nazi invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941, almost led to the collapse of the Soviet army. During the war, Stalin rose from premier to marshal to generalissimo. At the Tehran Conference (1943), the Yalta Conference (1945) with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, and the Potsdam Conference (1945), Stalin gained recognition as an astute diplomat. Under his rule, the Soviet Union had become a powerful force in Eastern Europe, and the western world took notice.

After World War II, Stalin used his increased power to consolidate his control over the Soviet Union. He became increasingly obsessed with problems of security and was always suspicious of communist movements outside his command. In the 1940s and 1950s Stalin made very few public appearances, which only enhanced his mystery and strength in the eyes of his followers. Toward the end of his life, his paranoia led to the persecution of some of his closest collaborators. He died in 1953 of a brain hemorrhage just as he was launching another political purge. His body was entombed next to Lenin's in the mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow. In 1956 Nikita Khrushchev and other Soviet leaders denounced Stalin as a political tyrant.

Text Citation:

"Stalin, Joseph." American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=AHBio0953&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 17, 2010).


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Truman pushed hard for the reorganization and modernization of the defense establishment to respond to modern warfare. In order to eliminate waste and inefficiency, he called for the unification of the services in a Department of National Defense with power centralized in a civilian secretary of defense. Because of opposition from the navy, he was forced to compromise. The National Security Act of 1947 gave the secretary of defense only a coordinating role. Yet it established the base upon which Trumancould build. He eventually won approval for a stronger secretary in 1949. In keeping with America's greater role in world affairs, the act established the National Security Council to coordinate defense and foreign policy. It also reorganized the American intelligence community into the Central Intelligence Agency.

The victory over Japan brought Truman his first major domestic problem—reconversion. Assuming that the conflict would continue for at least a year, government planners had not prepared for the major transition. Roosevelt and Truman, busy with the war, had also put off dealing with the problem. The confusion and turnover in personnel following Roosevelt's death hampered planning still further.

Truman approached reconversion with the primary goal of preventing a recession. Like many who could remember the economic problems after World War I, he feared that a short period of inflation would be followed by a long recession as men were thrown out of defense-related jobs and soldiers were demobilized. In addition, the president and the nation as a whole were haunted by memories of the Great Depression. Truman could remember that, as recently as 1939, 10 million persons were unemployed. In developing his reconversion policies Truman tried to steer a middle course, which he hoped would win the support of all important segments of the nation—labor, business, agriculture, and the consumer. His policies reflected his own background as a small businessman and as a midwestern progressive.

On the advice of John W. Snyder, who became his primary economic counselor, Truman announced on August 16 that most economic controls would end promptly except where needed. Reacting to demands by labor for increased wages to offset reductions in the work week, he asked union leaders to continue their wartime no-strike pledge and promised to call a labor-management conference to discuss outstanding differences. He announced that the government would legalize wage increases as long as they did not result in price rises.

On September 6 Truman presented a 21-point domestic program to deal with reconversion. While acknowledging that inflation might become a problem, he focused his attention on dealing with the expected recession. He asked for a full employment bill, an increase in unemployment compensation, a substantial though unspecified rise in the minimum wage, a comprehensive housing measure, legislation establishing permanent farm price supports, a law protecting and encouraging small business so that it could compete for scarce goods, an increase in public works projects, and a limited tax reduction. In addition, Truman requested the establishment of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) to end discrimination in hiring.

During the fall and winter of 1945–46 Truman's reconversion program floundered, bringing an end to the honeymoon period and alienating many segments of the nation that he had tried to court. Truman, himself, was in part responsible for the defeat. When he assumed the presidency, he was still a regional politician and he had difficulty developing the national constituency needed to push his plans through Congress. Although many Americans admired his courage in tackling the problems of office, they quickly found his administration lackluster and his decisions inconsistent. His continued protestations of unworthiness focused attention on his faults rather than on his competence. Truman could not shake the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt, whose accomplishments during the depression became magnified and whose domestic failures during the war years minimized. Truman also lacked Roosevelt's ability to inspire. New Deal liberals, who might have been expected to back Truman, were reluctant to aid a man who had been closely associated with an urban machine and had surrounded himself with advisers whom liberals found unacceptably conservative.

Truman was unwilling to use the powers of the presidency to push his program. Hoping to avoid the impasse between Congress and the White House that had characterized the late New Deal, he left priorities up to Congress. Without guidance, the legislature destroyed his program, severely weakening the full employment bill, defeating the FEPC, and increasing the tax cut beyond that which Truman had requested.

Truman's advisers also contributed to his problems. Many seemed to have been chosen not because of experience or ability but because they were old friends of the president. One critic complained that the major criterion for receiving a high administration position was membership in Truman's old reserve unit. John Snyder, a small Midwest banker who became secretary of the Treasury had been Truman's friend since they had met in the U.S. Army Reserve. Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson had been a friend in the Senate, as had Attorney General Tom C. Clark. At a time when labor problems were acute, Lewis B. Schwellenbach, a one-time senator and judge, became secretary of labor, although he had had no experience in labor negotiations. James K. Vardaman, jr., another Missouri businessman who had been a Truman friend and assistant, was appointed to the largely ceremonial post of naval aide. When Vardaman proved an embarrassment there, Truman, who did not have the heart to fire him, appointed him to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Cabinet members bickered among themselves and often acted contrary to Truman's reconversion policy. Snyder, for example, a proponent of removing controls, feuded openly with Chester Bowles, director of the Office of Price Administration, who wished controls maintained. Clinton Anderson vigorously supported farmers' demands for price rises and backed moves to hold produce from market in the face of Truman's desire to keep down food costs and send food to famine-stricken Europe. Schwellenbach feuded with Wallace over wage and price increases.

Labor became one of Truman's constant worries during 1945 and 1946. The president was never able to win assurances from union leaders for a continuation of the wartime no-strike pledge. During the summer and fall of 1945, the number of strikes rose as labor, trying to recover income levels lost with the end of wartime overtime, demanded higher wages. At the end of October Truman retreated from his earlier stand that he would back only those wage increases that did not raise prices. He proposed a plan that would enable business to include the cost of wage increases in price rises after a six-month accounting period had demonstrated need. Neither labor nor management liked the suggestion. Truman's proposed Labor-Management Conference, convened in November, failed to settle differences. The president offered no guidance during the meeting, and labor, divided within itself, could not agree on a wage policy to present to management. Attempting to stop the rash of strikes, in late 1945 Trumanrequested legislation providing for fact-finding boards to investigate disputes and giving the president the power to impose cooling off periods before strikes could be called. The proposal further alienated labor because it limited the right to strike.

The number of strikes continued to grow during early 1946. In April coal miners, led by John L. Lewis, refused Truman's compromise on a wage increase and walked out at the same time that railroad workers threatened to strike. The public saw Lewis's action in particular as a challenge to the president and a test of Truman's ability to govern. The coal miners' strike crippled the nation. Many states and cities imposed dimouts and in some industries production halted. When both sides refused arbitration, Truman, in desperation, ordered the mines seized. Shortly thereafter the government gave in to most of Lewis's demands.

While negotiating the coal strike, Truman attempted to forestall a railroad strike by the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers. In May he seized the railroads and began bargaining with the two unions. When negotiations became deadlocked hours before the strike, Trumanissued a blistering attack against the unions. In an address before Congress he asked for the power to draft workers "who are on strike against their government." An agreement was reached as Trumanspoke. The president's handling of the labor situation was severely criticized. The dislocation caused by the strikes and Truman's apparent impotence before labor leaders hurt his standing with the public. His demand for draconian labor legislation lost him support not only among labor and liberals but also among conservatives such as Senator Robert A. Taft (R-Ohio), who declared that Truman's demands offended "every basic principle for which the American republic was established."

Truman's handling of the economy also proved inept. During the autumn and winter of 1945–46 he had become convinced that inflation and not recession would be the major postwar economic problem. In an effort to keep a ceiling on prices, during the spring of 1946 he asked for continuation of price controls and the extension of the life of Office of Price Administration. He refused to fight for the legislation, however. Congress passed a weak version of his proposal, which Truman signed only reluctantly. He did so hoping that the public would become discontented and pressure Congress into passing a stronger measure. His strategy backfired. As prices rose and a black market developed, the public blamed the president.

Truman did not understand the uses of fiscal or monetary policy as devices for controlling the economy. He looked at the federal budget and Federal Reserve Board policy from the narrowest financial perspective, as if he were still administering a Missouri county. He wanted surplus revenues and cheap debt. He insisted that the Federal Reserve continue its wartime policies and maintain interest rates at artificially low levels, a practice that fanned inflation.

By the 1946 elections Truman and the Democratic Party were in serious trouble. Many liberals had left the administration and were attacking Truman's foreign policy and lack of a strong domestic program. Labor was alienated by his reaction to wage demands and business by his handling of the economy. Shortages of foods angered consumers while low prices for agricultural products irritated farmers. Southerners attacked Truman's racial policies. Soldiers were angered by the slow pace of demobilization. Running on the slogan "Had Enough?&quoquot; the Republicans won decisive control of the House and a narrow margin in the Senate.

The fall of 1946 was the nadir of the Truman presidency. After the elections the domestic situation began to improve, and Truman, seemingly jolted into fighting by the results, took the initiative in domestic affairs. By the winter of 1946 the reconversion period was over: the number of strikes had declined; shortages had disappeared and wage and price controls had all but ended. On November 9, just four days after the election, Truman ordered the termination of all wage controls. He retained price controls only on rent, sugar, and rice.

Truman had also grown in office and became accustomed to the problems and duties of the presidency. He ended his defensiveness and protestations of inadequacy. In addition, a number of Truman's less competent advisers had left, and Clark Clifford, whose political insights were to prove an important influence on the Truman presidency, was gaining power. Just as important, Truman no longer felt himself restricted by a Democratic Congress that opposed his programs. Instead he used the adversarial relationship between the executive and legislature to present himself as a bold leader, hampered by a reactionary Congress. He offered the Republican-dominated 80th Congress a program of domestic legislation, challenging the legislature to destroy it.

Truman's newfound confidence was expressed in his confrontation with John L. Lewis during the winter of 1946. In October Lewis had accused the administration of breaking the contract with the miners it had made during the previous spring. He asked for a reopening of negotiations and hinted at the possibility of a strike. Truman, on Clifford's advice, refused to negotiate a new agreement. He asserted that it would be interpreted as another surrender. Instead, he notified Lewis that the government would return the mines to the owners shortly after negotiations resumed. Truman then ordered the Justice Department to obtain an injunction against the proposed termination of the agreement. When the miners struck in November, Lewis and the union were found guilty of contempt of court and fined $3.5 million. In December Lewis called off the strike.

Truman, on the advice of Clifford, proposed a program of social legislation during 1947 and 1948 that was designed to solidify the New Deal, establish the president's standing with liberals, and lay the basis for the 1948 presidential campaign. He suggested changes in agricultural laws to increase aid to farmers, proposed raising the minimum wage from 40 to 75 cents, asked for increases in Social Security coverage, called for the reenactment of price controls to cut inflation, and requested a tax cut to benefit primarily the lower and middle classes. He also called for a comprehensive housing program to increase the stock of new housing and aid slum clearance. In December 1946, in reaction to a series of vicious racial murders in the South, Truman appointed a President's Committee on Civil Rights. The panel's report, "To Secure These Rights," issued in October 1947, became the basis for his civil rights proposals presented in February 1948. Truman called for an antilynching bill, the elimination of the poll tax, and the establishment of a Fair Employment Practices Commission.

With the exception of the housing program, most of Truman's proposals were ignored. The 80th Congress voted for a tax cut, including relief to the rich, cut funds for crop storage, and enacted displaced person legislation that discriminated against Catholic and Jews. Truman countered Congress's attempts to trim back the New Deal by using his veto 62 times during 1947 and 1948. His most important veto was of the Taft-Hartley bill, which limited the rights of organized labor. Explaining his action on national radio, Truman termed the measure "bad for labor, bad for management, and bad for the country." Congress, however, passed Taft-Hartley over the president's veto.

Critics acknowledged that Truman had pulled his administration together and had grown in office. Still the feeling prevailed that he was not competent to do the job. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a normally Democratic paper, wrote that Truman had shown he lacked "the stature, the vision, the social and economic grasp, or the sense of history required to lead the nation in a world crisis." Prominent Democrats such as Claude Pepper led efforts to prevent Truman from securing the nomination. They hoped to replace him with General Dwight D. Eisenhower or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. When these men declined to run, the anti-Truman drive collapsed, and the president received the nomination on the first ballot. Conservative southerners opposed to the civil rights plank of the party's platform bolted and formed the States Rights' Democrats with J. Strom Thurmond as their presidential candidate. Many liberals, discontented with Truman's foreign and domestic policies, rallied around Henry Wallace, the candidate of the newly formed Progressive Party.

The press, the public, and the professional pollsters predicted that Truman would go down to defeat to the Republican candidate, Thomas E. Dewey. Nevertheless, the feisty Truman remained optimistic. He was determined to use his status as the underdog and his quarrels with the 80th Congress to overcome Dewey's lead. Acting on the advice of Clark Clifford, he molded a campaign designed to maintain the New Deal alignment of poor, urban, and agricultural voters that had brought Roosevelt to power. Although Truman felt a moral obligation to recognize Israel upon its independence over the objections of Secretary of State Marshall, he hardly could have overlooked the gratitude that Jewish voters would extend to him at the polls. The president also initiated the desegregation of the armed forces, which won the hearts of the African-American electorate. On his whistle stop tours across the country, Trumanstressed his adherence to the New Deal tradition and denounced the "do-nothing" 80th Congress for failure to pass his social programs. He called Congress into special session in order to pass social legislation. Its failure to do so reinforced Truman's contention that it was "the worst Congress" in history. While Dewey ran a restrained campaign, Truman blasted the Republicans. "If you send another Republican Congress to Washington," he told his audiences, "you're a bigger bunch of suckers than I think you are." Crowds, enjoying the combative Truman, would yell back "Give 'em hell Harry."

In November Truman scored what appeared to be one of the biggest upsets in U.S. history. However, author Harold I. Gullman has argued that given the political configuration of the time, the real upset would have been if Dewey had won. The president received 24.1 million votes to Dewey's 22 million and 303 electoral votes to the Republican's 189. Thurmond received only 39 electoral votes while Wallace received none. Truman's victory was based, as Clifford had expected, on the continuation of the New Deal coalition. He received the support of African Americans, labor, and the new "blue-collar" middle class. The President regained many midwestern farmers, who that had been drifting toward the GOP in recent elections, because of anger at the agricultural legislation of the 80th Congress. To a large extent the victory was influenced by the memory of the depression and the fear that a Republican administration would be unconcerned with the problems of the working man.

President in his own right, Truman announced that "every segment of our population and every individual has a right to expect from his government a fair deal." He urged enactment of an extensive domestic program based in part on the one he had proposed to the 80th Congress. At his request Congress passed a comprehensive housing bill designed to aid lower income groups and veterans. It became the basis for most of the government's housing programs in the 1950s. Congress extended Social Security benefits, increased the minimum wage, kept farm price supports high, and expanded conservation programs. Many of these measures seemed little more than a continuation of the New Deal. Critics categorized the years of the 81st Congress as "Roosevelt's Fifth Term." Truman, however, was not content with extending Roosevelt's programs. He also introduced extensive proposals on civil rights, called for aid to education, asked for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act, and continued his appeal, first made in 1945, for national health insurance. Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Brannan, in a dramatic policy departure designed to preserve the small farm, proposed a plan based on direct payments to farmers rather than a restriction of production. Congress, however, was reluctant to enact innovative legislation, and the president met defeat on these proposals.

Frustrated by the Congress's refusal to enact civil rights, Truman used executive power to increase the rights of African Americans. He appointed an African American to the federal judiciary and strengthened the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Under his direction, the department filed amici curiaebriefs in support of efforts to end segregation in public schools and stop enforcement of restrictive covenants. Truman also increased the pace of desegregation in the armed forces.

In foreign affairs Truman continued extending the containment policies of his first administration. Hoping to put his own imprint on foreign policy, long dominated by his secretaries of state, he proposed "making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas." The plan, known as the Point Four program, was enacted into law in May 1950. It was designed, as the European Recovery Program had been, to contain communism by eliminating the poverty that led to discontent. Unlike the earlier program, Point Four focused on the transmission of technical skill rather than the use of massive loans to aid developing nations.

Truman worked for the ratification of the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, which committed the United States for the first time in its history to a mutual defense pact in Europe. To enable the United States to cope with its larger military role, he asked Congress to increase the power of the secretary of defense and support development of a modern air force, capable of delivering nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. Shortly after the Soviets revealed that they had exploded an atomic device, Truman ordered a crash program to develop the hydrogen bomb to maintain U.S. nuclear superiority.

A large portion of Truman's attention in foreign affairs was devoted to China, where Communists and Nationalists were engaged in a bitter civil war. Early in his first administration Truman had sent George Marshall on a mission to try to negotiate a truce and form a coalition government. Marshall had failed and returned predicting that if Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi) did not reform his corrupt government no amount of American aid could save him. Truman, on his advice, had attempted to phase out aid to that nation to prevent U.S. involvement in a full-scale war. He was, however, forced to acquiesce to demands from right-wing Republicans for a new mission to China and continuation of some form of assistance. By the summer of 1949 it had become clear that Chiang was losing the war. In an attempt to explain American policy and extricate the United States from the situation, Truman ordered Secretary of State Dean Acheson to issue a White Paper on China. He blamed the imminent Communist takeover on corruption in the Nationalist regime.

The fall of China precipitated a storm of protest from the right, which accused Truman of having "sold-out" Chiang by concentrating U.S. aid in Europe. Influenced by the anticommunist hysteria of the time, the China Lobby insisted that the loss was the result of Communist influence in the State Department. After the formal proclamation of the Communist government, Truman was forced to assure China Lobby leaders that he would not recognize the new regime or permit its admission to the United Nations. Truman rejected demands from Senator William F. Knowland (R-Calif.) that the U.S. fleet protect Taiwan from the Communists and announced that he would not provide military aid or advice to the Nationalist Chinese. He would continue only economic aid. However, after the outbreak of the Korean War, he dispatched the Seventh Fleet to the straits between the two nations.

In light of the fall of China and the Soviet detonation of an atomic bomb, Truman in January 1950 ordered a complete reassessment of American defense and nuclear policy. The report, NSC-68, recommended that the United States unilaterally accept responsibility for the defense of the world and begin an immediate large-scale buildup of America's defense forces. Truman initially rejected its recommendations and refused to have the report made public. He reasoned that without a major crisis he could not get Congress or the public to support large defense appropriations. When the Korean conflict began in June 1950, Truman began implementing the report's recommendations.

Truman's handling of the Korean situation undermined his domestic support. In response to the North Korean invasion of the South, he sent U.S. troops under UN auspices to conduct what was termed a police action. Because the United Nations and not the United States alone was officially fighting the war,Truman decided not to ask Congress for a declaration of war. The public initially supported Truman's action, believing that a strong show of force was necessary to contain communism in Asia. Yet, despite his seeming willingness to fight in Korea, Truman was unable to quiet charges that he was "soft on communism." Republicans pointed to a speech by Dean Acheson, in which he had failed to include Korea in the U.S. defense perimeter, as a major factor in the outbreak of the war. Within a few months of the outbreak praise gave way to grumbling as the Chinese Communists intervened and drove the Americans back down the peninsula and the Korean conflict became "Truman's War."

Truman became even more unpopular after he fired General Douglas Macarthur As supreme commander of UN forces in Korea in April 1951. Following the general's open opposition to a limited war and his politicking with Republican leaders in Congress, Truman announced that he could "no longer tolerate his insubordination" and dismissed him. Liberals supported his action as a necessary defense of presidential power, but members of the China Lobby and those who wanted an increased emphasis on Asia in foreign policy, denounced him. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wisc.) called the president a "sonofabitch" who made his decision while drunk on "bourbon and Benedictine."

Truman's problems increased as the war dragged on. The conflict fanned an inflationary boom that he failed to restrain. Reluctant to impose wage and price controls, he announced a partial mobilization in July 1950. In his message he called for tax increase, restrictions on credit and the allocation of scarce materials. He did not, however, ask for wage and price controls. The regulations proved ineffective and prices continued to rise.

Truman's inability to control the domestic anticommunist crusade undermined his administration still further. Throughout the 1940s Americans had become increasingly concerned about domestic communism. Revelations in 1945 of the disclosure of State Department documents to a left-wing journal and discovery of a Communist spy ring in Canada heightened tension. Truman was disturbed by secret FBI reports suggesting that there were Communists in high government offices. During the 1946 campaign Republicans ran on the pledge to "clean the Communists and fellow travelers out of the government." Truman, himself, contributed to the growing hysteria by couching his foreign policy pronouncements in terms of a crusade against communism.

In response to the growing pressure, Truman ordered a broad investigation of Communist activities in 1947 and established a stringent loyalty program for all federal employees. Under Executive Order 9835 every person accepting a civilian federal job was to undergo a loyalty check. If accused of disloyalty, an individual was entitled to a hearing with counsel present. However, he was not able to confront his accusers. During the Truman presidency the attorney general's list of subversive organizations was enlarged and used more formally in loyalty investigations.

Despite his own willingness to institute a loyalty program and to use the issue of domestic communism in his presidential campaign, Truman opposed much of the anticommunist crusade of the 1940s. In 1948 he termed the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of Alger Hiss "a red herring" and in 1951 attempted to block a congressional probe of Owen Lattimore by refusing to produce loyalty files on the ground of executive privilege.

Truman opposed most of the anticommunist legislation of the period. He denounced the Mundt-Nixon bill of 1948, which would have required the registration of Communists. He asserted that it "adopted police-state tactics and unduly encroached on individual rights." Truman promised to veto any internal security bill. He sent to Congress a message on the issue and campaigned, unsuccessfully, for moderate legislation. Two years later Congress passed the Internal Security Act of 1950, which incorporated the Mundt-Nixon bill as well as provisions for the internment of suspected subversives in a national emergency. Truman, true to his word, vetoed the measure. In an effort to defeat attempts to override, he sent personal messages to each member of the House explaining his action. The House ignored him and voted to override.

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Truman proved an ineffectual opponent of Senator McCarthy. He was angered at the senator's attacks on his administration and particularly the State Department. In addition, he was concerned by what he thought was McCarthy's growing power. During the spring of 1950 he set up a special task force in the White House to rebut every charge McCarthy made. Truman used his own press conferences and speeches to attack McCarthy. However, he never confronted McCarthy directly, asking him to substantiate his charges. Despite his efforts, Truman seemed unable to restrict McCarthy's power. In the 1950 elections several prominent opponents of the Senator lost their seats in Congress to candidates McCarthy had backed. Historians later pointed out that the defeats were primarily a result of local political conditions and opposition to Truman administration policies, but contemporary observers attributed it to support for the anticommunist crusade. Although the Democrats retained control of Congress, the margin was held by southern conservatives, ending hopes for the continuation of the Fair Deal. McCarthyism continued to grow, and the president failed to quiet charges that he harbored Communists in government.

Domestic scandals contributed to Truman's loss of prestige. As early as 1949 rumors had been spread of conflict of interest at the White House. That year a congressional investigation uncovered proof that men close to the White House were selling government contracts for 5 percent of the contract price. One of Truman's closest friends, Harry H. Vaughan, was implicated. During 1951 further probes revealed widespread corruption in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Truman's reluctance to reorganize these agencies and his fiery defense of his friends hurt his standing still further.

In March 1952, Truman, his legislative program stalled, and his administration under attack, publicly announced he would not run for reelection that year. He privately offered Adlai E. Stevenson, the liberal governor of Illinois, his support for the nomination. Stevenson, however, was reluctant to associate himself with the administration and refused to acknowledge his candidacy until the convention. After he received the nomination Stevenson took care to maintain a distance from the administration. His strategy offended the president who, as a vigorous political fighter, disliked Stevenson's low-keyed campaign. Relations between the two remained strained, and in subsequent years Truman maintained that Stevenson's loss was his own fault.

In his final State of the Union Message in January 1953, Truman warned Stalin against war with the United States and urged continued Western resistance to Communist expansion without plunging the world into nuclear conflict. He also cautioned against legislation aimed at domestic communism that would promote an "enforced conformity."

During the 1950s Truman frequently spoke out in opposition to the Eisenhower administration's foreign and domestic programs. He remained active in Democratic politics, backing Averell Harriman for the presidential nomination in 1956 and Stuart Symington in 1960. When John F. Kennedy received the nomination that year, Truman campaigned vigorously for him despite his personal dislike of the Kennedy family. He was a strong supporter of the Johnson-Humphrey ticket in 1964 and generally backed the Great Society legislative program. In 1965 President Johnson flew to Independence to sign the law creating Medicare at a ceremony honoring Truman, who had proposed national health insurance in 1945. Truman was a consistent supporter of the administration's Vietnam policy. He died in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 26, 1972, at the age of 88.

Historians' assessments of Harry Truman changed dramatically in the 25 years after his administration. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was lauded as the man who, thrown into the presidency, was able to lead the nation through the difficult period of reconversion with no severe social or economic dislocations. He was, in the words of Clinton Rossiter, a "highly successful Andrew Johnson." They particularly applauded his demands for aid to education, national health insurance, and strong civil rights legislation. "Truman encountered many reverses," historian William Leuchtenberg wrote, "but he at least raised new public issues that two decades later would still form part of the agenda of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society."

America's involvement in Vietnam and the growth of presidential powers engendered by the conflict strongly influenced assessments of Truman's foreign policy. New Left historians charged that Trumanhad overreacted to Stalin's legitimate desire for security on his western border and was to a large extent responsible for the development of the cold war. Some questioned his humanitarian motives in instituting the Marshall Plan and maintained that Truman was primarily interested in reestablishing important American markets. More conservative historians such as Arthur M. Schlesinger, jr., pointed out that Truman's actions in Korea increased presidential power, contributing to the development of "the imperial presidency."

During the 1970s historians' views of Truman again began to change. While still praising his domestic programs, writers pointed out that Truman's own weaknesses as chief executive contributed to their defeat. Historians have also charged that Truman, while opposing the anticommunist hysteria in the late 1940s, contributed to its development through his loyalty program and his decision to describe the struggle with the Soviet Union in terms of a moral and ideological conflict. He also failed to stop the development of McCarthyism because of inept leadership. Some historians, notably John Lewis Gaddis, became more sympathetic to Truman's cold war policies. They asserted that Truman, as the leader of a democratic society, was constrained by public opinion and congressional demands to pursue a firm policy toward the USSR. Stalin, he pointed out, had a greater opportunity to accommodate himself to the U.S. position because he lacked these restrictions. Therefore, blame for the cold war must be distributed more evenly.

In recent years a wide variety of interpretations of Truman's presidency have arisen, as archives opened more manuscripts for review. Three major biographies of Truman were produced as well as a myriad of monographs. David McCullough, in a sympathetic look at the 33rd president, painted Truman as a hero who had not lost his common touch. Alonzo L. Hamby contended that, despite Truman's snappishness, partisanship, and lack of charisma, he excelled in the usages of power. Despite his fiery campaign rhetoric, he could fashion bipartisan coalitions to meet goals. Truman evolved from an ideology of "insurgent progressivism" to "New Deal–Fair Deal liberalism." Yet his attempt to maintain the Roosevelt coalition led to "a politics of liberal promise and conservative gridlock" that hurt his credibility. His foreign policy suffered in the end because of the expanding commitments he incurred and diminishing military capabilities that his budget cuts imposed. Despite these problems, Hamby concluded that Truman was correct in his advocacy of civil rights and meeting the Soviet threat. Robert H. Ferrell saw Truman as a courageous man, devoted to public service, who stood up to the Soviets, but who could be hot-tempered toward those who disagreed with him.

Text Citation:

"Truman, Harry S." In Uebelhor, Tracy S. The Truman Years, Presidential Profiles. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=TTY400&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 20, 2010).


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The WWII National Museum online this exhibit has over 65,000 photos and explanations of the war technology used during WWII.

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Boooom! Booom!

The first atomic bomb was dropped by the B29 "Enola Gay." See below left.

bomber US bomber

Enola Gay (dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.)

Col. Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., pilot of the ENOLA GAY, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, waves from his cockpit before the takeoff, 6 August 1945." 208-LU-13H-5.

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See more World 'War II weapons here.


German tank (Panzer) WWII German Panzer, tank.

US Sherman Tank WWII US Sherman Tank.

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US tank front view US Tank, front view in Paris.

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another tank Tanks during World War II

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From: Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII).

Tanks were important armored vehicles used in World War II by both the Allied and Axis forces. From 1941 to 1945, the United States produced nearly 90,000 tanks, including the Locust, Grant, and Shermanmodels, though the combat performance of these tanks differed widely.

After World War I, the United States disbanded its tank corps until May 1940, when the Armored Forces were created in response to the effectiveness of the German blitzkrieg. Despite the creation of the Armored Forces and the objections of George S. Patton, Jr., who wanted a more central role for tank warfare, the U.S. Army viewed tanks as an auxiliary of the infantry. Tank doctrine included tactics that stressed exploiting breakthroughs, protecting and assisting unarmored units, and seizing and holding strategic positions.

Of the American tanks of World War II, the medium-sized Sherman tanks were especially important. The Shermans were designed specifically for speed, mobility, and easy modification, so that they could be updated as tank technology progressed. However, against Field Marshal Rommel's German Panzer divisions in the North African campaign, the Sherman tanks were revealed to be ill equipped for tank-to-tank duels. Inferior to tanks such as the German Mark V Panther or the Mark VI Tiger, they were dubbed "Purple Heart Boxes" because so many of their operators were wounded. The Sherman tanks, however, far outnumbered the German tanks, a testament to the American mobilization and production effort, and the sheer number of Allied tanks proved instrumental.

U.S. Tanks continued to have mixed results in the later stages of the war. During the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, many Sherman tanks, which were equipped to "swim" to the shore of Omaha Beach, sank far from their beach destination, causing thousands of casualties among the infantry. But once they were ashore, two-bladed steel prows called hedgehogs were attached to the front of the tanks and successfully sliced through the hedgerows that had provided a natural defense for the Germans. At Okinawa, flame-throwing tanks fired jellied gasoline at Japanese defenses, eventually causing those defenses to break. After the war, a general board assessed the performance of U.S. tanks and recommended improvements in design.

For further reading:

Robert M. Citino, Armored Forces: History and Sourcebook (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1994)

Kenneth Macksey, Tank Warfare: A History of Tanks in Battle (New York: Stein & Day, 1972).

Text Citation:

Walsh, Michael T. "tanks during World War II." In Jeffries, John W., and Gary B. Nash, eds. Encyclopedia of American History: The Great Depression and World War II, 1929 to 1945, Revised Edition (Volume VIII). New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2010. American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE52&iPin=EAHVIII300&SingleRecord=True (accessed December 20, 2010).

The Assignment| African Americans in WWII | African American Medal of Honor Recipients| Adolf Hitler | German Concentration Camps| Japanese Relocation Camps| The Holocaust | Benito Mussolini | The New Deal | Pearl Harbor | Political Cartoons| Propaganda, OWI (Office of War Information) | Franklin D. Roosevelt | Joseph Stalin | Harry S. Truman| Science/Technology, Aircraft, Tanks, Atomic Bomb|


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This research pathfinder was created for Willingboro Public Schools by Elizabeth Massaro, educational media specialist - 12/20/2010. Most of the information provided to students on this web page was taken from Facts on File, American History Database at http://www.fofweb.com. For access to this database contact the media specialist. Questions or comments, please email emassaro@wboe.net.