What Frictions, If Any, Divided the Nation During the War?
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What frictions, if any, divided the nation during the war?
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese fighter planes bombed American ships in Pearl Harbor. In the blink of an eye, the United States was at war. The attack took place in Hawaii, but it dramatically changed attitudes on the mainland about the war and Americas involvement in it. From the sentiment of the American people in 1941, before December 7th, the nation was a divided people. It wasnt a civil war going on, but there was a great deal of argument about whether we ought to or ought not to enter the war.

Only 20 years earlier, World War I had been proclaimed the “war to end all war.” And yet, once again, Americans were being called on to fight on European soil. So it wasnt the war to end all war, and it would be silly for the United States to get involved in another bloodbath like that—or so 40 percent or more of the American people believed on December 6, 1941 (Stoler & Gustafson, p. 100). Then the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred and suddenly American opinion turned. There were more enlistments on December 8 than any other day in American history. People, who were previously sworn enemies, divided by politics so strongly that neighbors didn’t speak, were now on the same boat and united with each other.

In a letter written by General Dwight Eisenhower he warned that Hitler should “beware the fury of a roused democracy” (Stoler & Gustafson, p. 97). Yamamoto Isoroku, commander of the Japanese combined fleet, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, had worked in the United States. He warned the Japanese high command of the strength of the American spirit. Despite the warnings, the Japanese went ahead with the attack because they had underestimated American perseverance.

But the Americans were not too tired from their previous perils to continue to fight. Even though they paid dearly in human lives, determination outweighed the price. The determination to make the enemy pay was too high at that point to think of any other reaction from the public. It was felt by everyone in the country, whether they were old or young people, men or women, whether they were of British descent or African descent or Norwegian descent—wherever they came from, the resolve to never again let this happen kept the fighters going back to fight, whatever the price.

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