what was life in america like before the bombing of pearl harbor?
And was the military on alert before the attack?
- Veto RLv 61 decade agoFavorite Answer
The economic state of the United States had stabilized somewhat by the mid-30s. Yet, according to the 1940 U.S. Census, about 15 percent of the American workforce remained unemployed just before the outbreak of the war. While this was still high, the rate was down significantly from 1933, when one in four American workers were unemployed. Most of the workforce was male, with women mostly regulated to the home and raising families.
Industrialization in Northern cities, particularly Detroit and Chicago, were drawing workers from rural areas, particularly in the South, in the 1920s and 30s. Still, one in four Americans lived on farms in 1940 and three-quarters of those families lacked indoor plumbing. It was still a world where the ability to read and write were sufficient education skills and one did not necessarily need a high school diploma.
Politically, we may have been at our most dangerous time as Franklin D. Roosevelt had ignored precedent and was running for a third term in 1940. This is not to take way from anything Roosevelt did as President, as I believe he was one of the more effective Presidents we have had, but it does point out the cult of personality that had developed around him. Fearful of another powerful President who could remain in office indefinitely, the United States ratified the 22nd Amendment in 1951, limiting the Presidency to two terms in office.
As a nation, we were very segregated. Race riots had broken out in Chicago, New York and Tulsa. The NAACP was mounting a fierce attack through the courts on Plessy v. Ferguson's legalization of "separate but equal" -- a fight that would pay off with Brown v. Board of Education in 1955.
Militarily, we had an Army of 179,000 men, one of the largest peacetime armies in U.S. history, but still ranked in the 20s worldwide. Our foreign policy was based on isolationism, or resting behind the walls of the Atlantic and Pacific ocean and staying out of European and Asian conflicts. Yet, Roosevelt's administration was bucking both trends. In regards to the European war, the United States had approved land-lease exchanges with England and had become London's primary supplier. We had also agreed to escort merchant ships to Iceland, which brought our Navy in direct conflict with German U-boats. The destroyer Ruben James, which was on escort duty off Iceland, for instance, had already been sunk by Germany months before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
In Asia, the United States, which supplied many of the raw materials Japan relied on to power its military and industrial base, had imposed an embargo on American exports to Japan, cutting deeply into Japan's metal and oil supplies. The embargo was designed to force Japan to withdraw from Manchuria and Southern China.
The U.S. did expect a war with Japan, but expected Japan to attack bases in Guam, Wake Island and maybe the Philippines. To prepare a counterstrike against the expected attack, the Navy had withdrawn its battleships to Pearl Harbor, about midway between the American Pacific coast and our Asian colonies. Due to racist attitudes in the nation, United States military and political leaders did not think Japan capable of attacking Pearl Harbor and thought our battleships and carriers safe. Also, military leaders discounted the possibility of battleships being sunk by aircraft despite Gen. Billy Mitchell's vocal advocacy of air power in the interwar period, an advocacy that got him court martialed by those in the military who downplayed the ability of aircraft. So, leading up to Pearl Harbor, American leaders believed, in Asia, they were facing an enemy that racially did not have the martial ability of whites and they held to the misplaced belief that aircraft couldn't sink major combat ships. Both theories were emphatically disproven by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The military's biggest concern was the threat of sabotage on aircraft parked at Hawaii's airfields. Instead of dispersing the aircraft around the airfields to prevent an air raid from taking out several planes with one or two bombs, the military tightly grouped the planes together so that a single guard could prevent sabotage. The parking of the planes together made it easy for Japanese pilots to destroy most of the American aircraft in Hawaii on the ground. The second biggest concern was the threat of a submarine attack, but days before the Pearl Harbor attack, military commanders in Hawaii ordered anti-torpedo nets around ships in port taken up due to their impeding surface traffic in the port. This meant that the torpedoes launched by Japanese pilots found their way unimpeded to the sides of American warships.
- bob nLv 71 decade ago
America was still struggling to work itself out of the Depression. Unemployment was high and many areas like the Dust Bowl and California were undergoing social changes. While Roosevelt was still very popular as President many people distrusted the Government and other institutions like banks. The country was also trying to help Europe in its struggle with Germany. Many prominent Americans and foreign groups thought Hitler had the right idea to get a country back on its feet. The US had instituted many protective taxes especially on oil and gas that Japan needed for its war machine. Diplomacy was ongoing but not fruitful right up until the attack on Pearl Harbor. No the military was not ready for war they were caught flat footed and only succeeded with a super effort by the American people.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Aboout like it is today except there was no TV or Internet.. The stock market crash in 1929 started the great depression and peole were still living in poverty in 1939.. AmeriKa was still trying to shake off the depression and everyone way poor.
- alamystLv 41 decade ago
poor as hell