Before the United States joins the War

Most Americans wanted to avoid the war because the events that happened in World War I encouraged America to pursue a policy of isolationism. Nevertheless, as the United States began opposing those who supported Fascism and Nazism, the United States began sending material assistance such as food, weapons, and machinery to the Allied powers through the Lend-Lease Act (Modern World History 496). Roosevelt wanted to make sure that the Allies were winning; otherwise, the United States would have had to join the war in order to stamp out Nazism and Fascism for good.

Neutrality Acts- Americans were hesitant to join the war due to the Neutrality Acts that had been passed in 1935-1937. The United States Congress, in response to the growing turmoil in Europe and Asia, is what led to World War ll. These acts left the U.S. neutral in wars that did not involve them. The first act allowed the President to restrict shipments of arms to the aggressors, and allowed the President to warn U.S. citizens that they chose to travel on the ships of the aggressors at their own risk.("Neutrality Acts")

Lend Lease Acts- Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the policy known as the Lend-Lease Act on March 11, 1941 ("Lend-Lease Act"). It authorized the President to help any nation whose defense he judged to be critical to that of the United States by lending supplies such as arms. ("Lend-Lease Act"). By the end of the war, over 40 nations had participated, and an estimated valued total of 50 million dollars exchanged (Ferguson 159).

Atlantic Charter- This was an agreement between Franklin D. Roosevelt of the U.S. and Winston Churchill of Britain, that upheld free trade and enforced the right of people to choose their own government. Roosevelt and Churchill met on a ship near the coast of Newfoundland, Canada in order to create a charter that stated (Ferguson 160):
  • that neither country was after new land
  • that they respected the right of the citizens of each country to choose their own form of government.
  • that countries should cooperate to improve the standards of labor and social security.
  • that people should have the right to live their lives in freedom and without fear.
  • that no country should be denied access to the raw materials needed for its own economic prosperity.
  • that a more sufficient system of general security was needed.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Attack on Pearl Harbor

The attack directly related to the sequence of disputes between the United States and Japan (“Pearl Harbor Bombed, December 7, 1941”). Since the United States opposed Japanese plans for the control and dependency of Southeast Asia, the U.S. government sent aid to support the Chinese (Willmott 112). The U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately discontinued trade with Japan and their access to resources including shipments of oil (112). Japan’s attempts to resume trade failed because the U.S. insisted that Japan surrender its gains from the Asian mainland (112). The Japanese decided that the only solution was war (112). Their goal was to demolish the United States navy before they entered World War II (Ferguson 160).
The Attack
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese launched a surprise attacked Pearl Harbor
around 7:55 A.M. This attack was ideal because the Americans were completely unprepared ("Pearl Harbor Bombed, December 7, 1941"). The attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii was partly due to the Japanese trying to gain control of the Pacific for strategic placement in WWll. The Japanese were also angry because President Roosevelt had cut off the oil sailing to Japan, which caused Japan to attack. This battle cost many Americans their lives, however it is what caused America to join the war and in the end win the war.

Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku

  • The attack on Pearl Harbor was quick, as it lasted less than two hours ("Pearl Harbor Bombed, December 7, 1941").
  • Pearl Harbor was planned by an admiral named Isoroku Yamamoto ("Battle of Pearl Harbor").
  • Farther west, the Japanese also attacked Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand in an attempt to cause as much damage as quickly as possible to strategic targets.
  • Approximately 2,403 people died and 1,178 people were wounded (Pearl Harbor Bombed, December 7, 1941").

Video of the attack on Pearl Harbor

The Pearl Harbor Memorial

After the Attack

On December 8, 1941, the day after Japanese forces attacked the American naval base, Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan and their allies. Congress approved.

The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor for all of these reasons except:
a.) The discontinuation of trade between Japan and the United States.
b.) To demolish the United States' Pacific Fleet before they entered the war.
c.) They were mad at the United States for taking away Hawaii from them.
d.) It was an essential strategy for Japan's advance in Southeast Asia.

Japanese Victories

Japan wanted natural resources, many of which could be found in Southeast Asia. Japan joined the Axis Pact and launched their conquest for land, capturing the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Hong Kong, British Malaya, Thailand, Burma, Borneo, the Dutch East Indies, and several islands off the Aleutians ("Japan"). The apparent reason behind conquering these territories was to create a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" ("Japan").
  • One of the most important gains for the Japanese was the Philippines, which were defended by both American and Filipino troops. This led to three months of fighting before the Japanese finally gained victory.
  • The Dutch East Indies were rich in rubber and oil, allowing the Japanese to gain valuable resources.
  • Burma gave the Japanese the perfect position to go after the British Colony of India, and with the capture of Burma, they threatened Britain's main possession in resources and Asian land.
  • The Japanese then treated the conquered people and the prisoners of war with brutality and cruelty.
  • To the Japanese, surrender was considered a dishonor, so the captured allies were treated even worse. Many were led on a Bataan Death March which killed 16,00 people.
  • More than 1 million square miles of Asia islands fell to Japanese control in 1942.
  • ("Japan")

Works cite​d

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  • Axelrod, Alan. "Battle of Pearl Harbor." Encyclopedia of World War II, Volume II. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Modern World History Online. Facts On File
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  • Axelrod, Alan. "Neutrality Acts (United States)." Encyclopedia of World War II, Volume II. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Modern World History Online. Facts On File
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  • Yang, Jinseok. >:D