World War II was a war from 1939 to 1945 between two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Axis Powers, and both groups included some of the world’s most powerful nations. Countries put all they had towards the war effort, economically, industrially, and militarily. As a result of the war the United States and the Allied Powers became global superpowers; however, throughout and after World War II new roles for the country, government, and people of the United States emerged. Throughout this large scale war, the role of the national government in American life increased, the government became more controlling of the economy, minority groups played a larger role in society, and the United States gained a more important role in the world. World War II affected the role of the national government in American life because the government had a greater role in the lives of American citizens, more to do during time of crisis. They became more involved in the lives of citizens and put a stricter watch on what citizens did. The government built housing for war workers and forced civilian industries to retool for war production. The government marketed billions of dollars worth of war bonds, increased taxes, and began docking income tax directly from a person’s salary. Before the war only the wealthiest 4 million of Americans were paying income tax, by 1945 over 40 million did. Federal funds reinvigorated old manufacturing areas and created new industrial centers as well. The government invested billions of dollars in the shipyards of Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco and in the steel plants and aircraft factories of Southern California. Nearly 2 million moved to California for defense related industries, and millions more passed through for military training and embarkation to the Pacific war. During the war the South’s economy shifted to military industries because of federal funding.
After World War II, the US became a World Leader. The war caused the government to develop a policy of containment post World War II which meant they wanted to stop the spread of communism and also caused a sense of skepticism of U.S citizens, such as the second red scare (Ex. Loyalty Review Board investigate federal employees to make sure they were loyal to the government and not communist). World War II affected the the relationship between the government and economy because the government became much more active in the economy and it was an important part in providing for the war. The government’s actions lifted the country out of the Great Depression which stimulated the economy with wartime efforts. Mobilization takes place because of World War II, causing the entire economy to shift to help the war effort. For example, rationing of food for soldiers, rationed tires, automobiles, and gasoline helped the war effort but all of them became extremely hard to get because they were needed for the war, also there were meatless days because it was needed for troops. Business accepted this government control although there were some arguments against New Deal policies, but these went away when businesses realized the necessity for government intervention during this time.
World War II affected the minority groups in America because the experience of war brought the people together no matter if they were considered “minorities” or not. There were many groups who were considered “minorities” at the time. For example, African Americans. They played crucial role in the war effort because everyone was working together. In some places, racism dwindled because men had to fight with other units of a different race. The units were segregated but you could still be in a battle with a unit made up of a different race. Blacks showed themselves perfectly able to fly fighter planes (the famous Tuskegee Airmen) and carry out military tasks. By 1945, more than 1.2 million African Americans were serving in uniform on the Home Front, in Europe, or the Pacific. While most African Americans serving at the beginning of WWII were assigned to noncombat units and relegated to service duties, such as supply, maintenance, and transportation, their work behind front lines was equally vital to the war effort.
Another big example would be Women. Women were needed to fill many traditionally male jobs and roles during the war and various advertisements were used to encourage women to take on these jobs and roles. Women joined the nurse corps and the armed forces so that more men could be sent into combat. Women leaders helped determine the outcome of the war and the peace that followed. Women were encouraged to enter professions during WWII. For example, “Government Girls” came to Washington D.C. to help run the rapidly expanding federal government and participate behind the lines in the war effort. U.S factories retooled for war production. New facilities greatly expanded industrial output and women were a significant part of the labor force. In the community, women raised money for war bonds, collected blood, rolled bandages, aided in civil defense, tended Victory Gardens, and hosted troops. In the home, women recycled scarce materials, dealt with the strains of rationing, raised their children, and mourned the war dead. Other examples of minorities are the Mexican Americans who came to the US through the Bracero Program, a way of letting Mexicans come to the US to work mainly on agricultural needs or railroad jobs. The Japanese although in internment camps, some were allowed to go serve for the US and contributed that way. Minority groups proved themselves loyal to the US because they played a crucial part in the victory of World War II.
World War II affected the role of the US in the world because a lot of new technology had been invented, things like jet airplanes, better parachutes, codebreakers, etc. World War II pressured people to make better technology to beat enemies. A Declaration of the United Nations was set up, which was the basis and common purpose of the Allies. United Nations was a term used by Roosevelt to express the common purpose of the Allies which were the nations who fought the Axis powers. The Declaration was signed by 26 nations. After WWII, the US was the only industrialized nation whose manufacturing capacity was virtually untouched by the war. Even the Allied powers in Europe were devastated, from bomb raids and other attacks. This meant the US was the only country which had the means to rebuild the world after the war. They provided financing for Germany and Japan, which turned these two countries from bitter enemies during the war to two of our strongest allies, and eventually into the world’s second and third biggest economies for decades. Also, the US served to counterbalance the Soviet Union, becoming a key member of the NATO alliance, which was designed to protect any member nations from attack.
Another big change was that America’s isolationist policy turned into one of intervention. Prior to the war, the US had an isolationist policy, preferring to stay out of other countries’ affairs. This intervention policy is still in place today with the US forces spread around the globe and engaged in peacekeeping efforts in multiple countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. World War II transformed the United States as a nation and a world power. The war did not only change the role of the government in American life, but it also changed the governmental role in the economy, how minority groups were treated, and the role of the United States as a world power. It brought the United States into an entirely new era of change. The ability of the country to come together in a time of crisis sparked unification and allowed the United States government to function with unity, which only bettered the country. World War II proved the United States’ power, legitimacy, determination, and ability to come together, not only domestically, but throughout the entire world.
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