World War I Poster

Photo above: World War II Poster, United We Are Strong, United We Will Win, 1943, Henry Koerner, Office of War Department. Courtesy Library of Congress.

World War II - United States Involvement

For the first two years of World War II, the United States repeated its initial reaction of the first world war, attempting to stay neutral and broker peace. The nation was in the beginning of its recovery from the Great Depression, was celebrating a renewed vigor with World's Fairs in New York and San Francisco, and was not of the mindset to join the initial years of fighting. That, of course, would change. Their neutrality had always been an allied stance with the nations of Europe fighting Nazi Germany, Italy, and Japan even during the first two years of war, but without troops. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the sleeping bear would awaken, forced into the fight with full mettle. They would fight the remaining five years of war in theaters around the world, from the European theater to the Pacific Ocean nations of the Orient. And the final act would succumb to use of weapons not thought possible, with a ferocity unsurpassed in warfare to that point with the dropping of two atom bombs on Japan.



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  • World War Two, U.S. - Quick Battle Timeline 1941

    Pearl Harbor

    USA and World War II, January to November 1941

    The early months of 1941 saw increased fighting in the various theaters of World War II as the United States continued its role to provide military assistance, but no troops. January saw fighting in Thailand between Thai forces and the Vichy French. The East Africa campaign pitted the United Kingdom against Italy. Battles raged in the Mediterranean. April saw Yugoslavia invaded by Germany, Italy, and Hungary, and Greece in conflict between Greece and ally Great Britain against Italy and Germany. The Battleship Bismark sank the British HMS Hood off Denmark in May. June saw Australian and British soldiers in battle in the Syria Lebanon theater against the Vichy French. All across the world a war raged.

    In June, a turn in the war came, which changed its dynamic. Adolf Hitler decided that his alliance with the Soviet Union was worth less than taking over the western part of the Union for repopulation, oil reserves, and grain. In Operation Barbarossa, the German war machine invaded Russia on June 22, 1941. It had been in the works since July 1940, and would include an invasion force of four million over a one thousand and eight hundred mile front. Although Germany had significant early success in the invasion, it would prove to be the first blow to the eventual demise of the Third Reich. The allies now had an additional ally fighting against the Axis on the eastern front. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the hestitancy of the United States to enter World War II with fighting men would add another ally to the cause.


    USA and Japan leading up to Pearl Harbor, 1941

    It had been twenty years building tension between the United States and Japan. By 1940 when Japan invaded French Indochina, attempting to thwart supplies from reaching China, the United States did the same to Japan. They halted shipments of airplanes, parts, and aviation gasoline to the Japanese. During the first months of 1941, President Roosevelt tried to discourage the Japanese from further military forays in the Orient, moving the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and building up forces in the Philippines. When the Japanese decided that any attack by them against Great Britain's interests in Asia would bring the USA into the war, they planned a surprise attack. Pushed by an United States oil sales embargo against Japan in July, the Japanese accelerated their plan to take the Dutch East Indies and their oil. Roosevelt warned in August that an attack of that kind against USA allies would prompt action.

    Negotiations began between Japan and the United States to prevent provocation, but various agreements could not be consummated through November 26. On that date, the Japanese fleet to attack Pearl Harbor left port in Japan. Although the attack would be a surprise, the American public felt pressure that war between the two nations would come; 52% expected war.


    December 7, 1941 - Pearl Harbor, United States
    Troops: USA 96 ships, 4 submarines, 390 aircraft; Japan 28 ships, 28 submarines, 414 aircraft.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 3,581 plus 6 ships sunk, 188 aircraft. Also 103 civilian casualties; Japan 64 plus 1 captured, 5 submarines sunk or grounded.
    Surprise attack on the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor by Japanese air and sea forces becomes the largest loss of life on American soil by a foreign power since the War of 1812. Attack forces the United States into World War II, prompting a declaration of war against the Axis Powers one day later.

    December 8-10, 1941 - First Battle of Guam (Pacific Theater)
    Troops: USA 547, 4 ships; Japan 5,900, 20 ships.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 52, plus 406 captured; Japan 7.
    Air attack just after U.S. commander on Guam notified of Pearl Harbor followed by second day air assault and third day landing of large Japanese force takes island. Guam would remain in Japanese hands until the Second Battle of Guam in 1944.

    December 8-23, 1941 - Battle of Wake Island (Pacific Theater)
    Troops: USA 449, 12 aircraft; Japan 2,500, 19 ships.
    Casualties (Killed/Wounded/Missing): USA 103, plus 433 captured; Japan 1,478.
    Simultaneous attack to Pearl Harbor in two waves by Japanese against military fortification built in January 1941 eventually surrenders to the Japanese Empire after fifteen days and successful fight against first wave. All U.S. aircraft lost; island remained in Japanese hands until September 4, 1945.

    Declaration of War Against Japan, Germany, and Italy - Senate Resolution

    PROCEEDINGS IN THE SENATE, MONDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1941

    DECLARATION OF STATE OF WAR WITH JAPAN

    The Senate having returned to its chamber (at 12 o'clock and 47 minutes p. m.), it reassembled and the Vice President resumed the chair.

    Mr. BARKLEY. I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The clerk will call the roll. The legislative clerk called the roll.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. Eighty-two Senators have answered to their names. A quorum is present.

    Mr. CONNALLY. Mr. President, I introduce a joint resolution, and ask for its immediate consideration without reference to a committee.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The joint resolution will be read.

    The joint resolution (S. J. Res. 116) declaring that a state of war exists between the Imperial Government of Japan and the Government and the people of the United States, and making provision to prosecute the same, was read the first time by its title, and the second time at length, as follows:

    "Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United states of America:

    "Therefore be it

    "Resolved, etc., That the state of war between the United states and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United states."

    After debate.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The joint resolution having been read three times the question is, Shall it pass?

    On that question the yeas and nays have been demanded and ordered. The clerk will call the roll.

    The Chief Clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    The result was announced: Yeas 82, nays, 0.

    So the joint resolution was passed. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 1941

    The Senate met at 12 o'clock noon.

    MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The Chair lays before the Senate a message from the President of the United States, which the clerk will read.

    The Chief Clerk read as follows:

    "To the Congress of the United States:

    "On the morning of December 11 the Government of Germany, pursuing its course of world conquest, declared war against the United States.

    "The long known and the long expected has thus taken place. The forces endeavoring to enslave the entire world now are moving toward this hemisphere.

    "Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty, and civilization.

    "Delay invites greater danger. Rapid and united effort by all the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism. "Italy also has declared war against the United States.

    "I therefore request the Congress to recognize a state of war between the United States and Germany and between the United States and Italy.

    "FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.

    "THE WHITE HOUSE, "December 11, 1941."

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The message will be printed and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

    DECLARATION OF STATE OF WAR WITH GERMANY

    Mr. Connally, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, reported an original joint resolution (S. J. Res. 119) declaring that a state of war exists between the Government of Germany and the Government and the people of the United States, and making provision to prosecute the same, which was read the first time by its title, and the second time at length, as follows:

    "Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it

    "Resolved, etc., That the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany, which has thus been thrust upon the United states, is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."

    Mr. CONNALLY. Mr. President, I shall presently ask unanimous consent for the immediate consideration of the joint resolution just read to the Senate. Before the request is submitted, however, I desire to say that, being advised of the declaration of war upon the United States by the Governments of Germany and Italy, and anticipating a message by the President of the United States in relation thereto, and after a conference with the Secretary of State, as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, I called a meeting of the committee this morning and submitted to the committee the course I expected to pursue as chairman and the request which I expected to make.

    I am authorized by the Committee on Foreign Relations to say to the Senate that after consideration of the text of the joint resolution which I have reported and after mature consideration of all aspects of this matter, the membership of the Committee on Foreign Relations unanimously approve and agree to the course suggested. One member of the committee was absent, but I have authority to express his views.

    Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for the present consideration of the joint resolution.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. Is there objection?

    There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the joint resolution (S. J. Res. 119) declaring that a state of war exists between the Government of Germany and the Government and the people of the United States, and making provision to prosecute the same.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the joint resolution.

    The joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, and was read the third time.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The joint resolution having been read the third time, the question is, Shall it pass?

    Mr. CONNALLY. On that question I ask for the yeas and nays.

    The yeas and nays were ordered, and the Chief Clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    The result was announced yeas 88, nays 0.

    So the joint resolution (S. J. Res. 119) was passed.

    The preamble was agreed to.

    DECLARATION OF STATE OF WAR WITH ITALY

    Mr. Connally, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, reported an original joint resolution (S. J. Res. 120) declaring; that a state of war exists between the Government of Italy and the Government and the people of the United States and making provision to prosecute the same, which was read the first time by its title and the second time at length, as follows:

    "Whereas the Government of Italy has formally declared war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it

    "Resolved, etc., That the state of war between the United States and the Government of Italy which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Government of Italy; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."

    Mr. CONNALLY. Mr. President, with the same statement which I made earlier with regard to the Senate Joint Resolution 119 which has just been passed, I ask unanimous consent for the present consideration of Senate Joint Resolution 120.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. Is there objection to the present consideration of the joint resolution?

    There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the joint resolution (S. J. Res. 120) declaring that a state of war exists between the Government of Italy and the Government and the people of the United States and making provision to prosecute the same.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the joint resolution.

    The joint resolution was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading, and was read the third time.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. The joint resolution having been read the third time, the question is, Shall it pass?

    Mr. CONNALLY. Mr. President, on the passage of the joint resolution, I ask for the yeas and nays.

    The yeas and nays were ordered.

    The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    The result was announced yeas 90, nays 0.

    So the joint resolution (S. J. Res. 120) was passed.

    RESOLUTION OF THE REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE

    Mr. MCNARY. Mr. President, yesterday I issued a call for a Republican conference. The conference was had this morning and a resolution was unanimously adopted, which I ask unanimous consent that the clerk may read.

    The VICE PRESIDENT. Without objection, the resolution will be read.

    The Chief Clerk read as follows:

    "Resolved, That the Republican conference pledge to the President of the United States its unanimous support in the vigorous and efficient prosecution of the war."

    Mr. BARKLEY. Mr. President, on my own behalf and on behalf of the majority, and I am sure on behalf of the country, I wish to assure the Senator from Oregon, as minority leader, of our deep appreciation, not only of their resolution just presented by him but of his cooperation and that of his Republican colleagues in the prosecution of this war which has been thrust upon the United States.

    Note: Image above: Photo of U.S. Naval Ships Damaged or Lost at Pearl Harbor. Courtesy National Archives. Info source: Wikipedia Commons; Avalon Project, Document in Law, History, and Diplomacy, Yale Law School.




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