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NEUTRALITY
War broke out in Europe in 1939 but at this time the USA had laws to prevent
any involvement.
There was a strong feeling that involvement in the Second World War was a
mistake and must not be repeated with any future conflict.
The message was clear that involvement in the war could and should have
been avoided so precautions were made to stop history repeating itself.
1935 Neutrality Act = forbade the sale of munitions to all belligerent nations
1936 Neutrality Act = banned all loans to belligerents
Non-involvement reached its peak in 1937 when s survey found that 94% of
Americans felt that US foreign policy should be geared towards keeping out of
wars.…read more

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LEAD UP TO WAR
American involvement in war production made the New Deal irrelevant.
Roosevelt had cut the size of an already small army in 1933 with less than
140,000 men.
In 1937, the USA spent only 1.5% of its national income on defence compared to
20% in Germany, Japan and USSR.
In the presidential election of 1940, Roosevelt made it clear that although he did
not intend to send `our boys' into another war, the United States could not stand
back from an international situation.
The Neutrality Acts were modified in November 1939, with great difficulty on
Roosevelt's part, to allow any nation to buy arms on a cash-and-carry basis but
there could be no loans.
Nevertheless, it was an important first step and huge orders were placed and with
further slackening of restriction, by 1940 rearmament began to get underway. This
was because a world situation seemed more ominous so USA decided to create an
army of 1 million men.…read more

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PEARL HARBOUR
The USA and Japan were increasingly at loggerheads, they had deteriorated since
the Japanese invasion of China which began in 1937 ­ Roosevelt retaliated by
lending funds to China to buy weapons and not selling to Japan who were
dependent on such supplies.
Japan announced a means by which it could economically exploit countries under
its control but in July 1941, USA responded by freezing Japanese assets in the USA
and stopped their oil supply which Japan was almost wholly dependent on.
The objective on the attack at pearl harbour was to immobilise the US so it could
not stop Japanese expansion.
In the early morning of the 7th December 1941, the Japanese launched a ferocious
attack which destroyed 180 aircrafts, 7 battleships and 10 other vessels and killed
over 2,400 servicemen.
However, the aircraft carriers were out at sea so avoided attack and the Japenese
missed the fuel stores.
Furthermore, two days later, Hitler made things even easier for
Roosevelt by declaring was on the USA…read more

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IMPACT ON GOVERNMENT
The machinery of government had not been able to cope with the demands
of implementing New Deal legislation but the development of the Second
World War intensified the pressures for more Federal and Presidential
activity.
The War Powers Act granted Roosevelt unprecedented authority to lead the
nation into a total war.
There was a need to co-ordinate the government, economy and military and
the construction of the Pentagon symbolises this.
The Office of Price Administration was created to manage wartime economy,
it was set up in April 1941 and proved effective in preventing inflation and had
73,000 paid employees by the end of the war.
The role of the War Production Board (WPB) was crucial as it allocated
materials, limited some production and issued contracts. It rationed meat,
sugar, gasoline and coffee.…read more

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The government took over more control in people's lives.
Measures had a huge effect on the wartime economy and the
freedom of the labour force.
The war involved a massive increase in Federal expenditure. In 1940
the budget was $5.3 billion with $1.9 billion spent on defence.
By 1944,the peak year of spending, had a total of $97.2 billion with just
over $90 billion spent on the war.
This inevitably let to a revolution of tax ­ In 1940, 4 million American's
paid tax but by 1945, this had risen to 40 million. Taxes were
graduated on a steep scale with the very richest paying 94% income
tax.
From 1940-45, consumer goods being purchased rose by 12% (Britain's decreased
by 22%) and the USA was the only country to see an increase in war production
and consumer goods…read more

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