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U.S. History 1865–2004


World War II 1940–1945

  1. United States attempts to isolate itself from war in Europe, offering only limited support to Allied powers

  2. Japan bombs Pearl Harbor in 1941, launching United States fully into World War II in both European and Pacific theaters

  3. U.S. industry, powered in part by women entering workforce for first time, creates unprecedented numbers of planes, tanks, and supplies for soldiers overseas

  4. Allies negotiate terms of victory and lay foundation for postwar world order

1940   USSR invades Finland
  Germany’s blitzkrieg war conquers most of Western Europe
  Germany, Italy, and Japan sign Tripartite Agreement
  Government of Vichy France established in collaboration with Germany
  Germany firebombs London in Battle of Britain
  Isolationist group America First Committee founded; led by Charles Lindbergh
  Richard Wright publishes novel Native Son
  FDR reelected president for unprecedented third term
  United States and Britain sign destroyers-for-bases deal
  Selective Training and Service Act requires peacetime conscription
1941   Fair Employment Practices Committee established to guard against discrimination in government and war-industry hiring
  Lend-Lease Act provides U.S. loan aid to Britain, USSR, other Allied powers
  Germany invades USSR
  FDR and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sign Atlantic Charter
  Japan occupies Indochina
  Japan attacks U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i (December 7), killing nearly 2,400 Americans; United States declares war on Japan (December 8)
  Germany and Italy declare war on United States (December 11)
  “Rosie the Riveter” image becomes symbol of working women during World War II; integral to war propaganda effort on home front
1942   Japan captures Philippines, lead American and Filipino prisoners-of-war on Bataan Death March
  U.S. naval forces surprise superior Japanese force at Battle of Midway, sink three Japanese aircraft carriers; Japanese navy never recovers
  North Africa campaign begins
  War Production Board, War Labor Board, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of Central Intelligence Agency) created
  FDR’s Executive Order 9066 authorizes internment of Japanese Americans in California and other Pacific coast states
  United States launches Manhattan Project effort to build atomic bomb
  Edward Hopper paints Nighthawks
  University of Chicago students found Congress of Racial Equality
1943   Soviets defeat Germans at Stalingrad, Russia
  Allies invade Italy
  Allied leaders FDR, Churchill, and Stalin meet at Tehran Conference
  Operation Overlord launches, planning invasion of Normandy coast of France
  Zoot Suit Riots see clash between U.S. military forces and Mexican American community in Los Angeles
  Smith-Connally War Labor Disputes Act limits workers’ right to strike in certain key industries during wartime
1944   Allies invade Normandy, France, on D-Day (June 6)
  FDR reelected president for unprecedented fourth term
  United States recaptures Philippines
  Dumbarton Oaks Conference lays groundwork for founding of United Nations
  Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (also known as G.I. Bill of Rights) establishes free college education for World War II veterans
  Battle of the Bulge begins to break down Axis position on Western Front
  Korematsu v. U.S. ruling upholds FDR’s executive order authorizing internment of Japanese Americans
1945   Allied troops liberate Nazi concentration camps in Eastern Europe
  At Yalta Conference, Stalin agrees to declare war on Japan once Germany surrenders; approves plan for United Nations conference
  Allies firebomb Dresden, Germany, and Tokyo, Japan
  FDR dies; Vice President Harry S Truman becomes 33rd president
  Hitler commits suicide
  Soviets capture Berlin; Germany surrenders on V-E Day (May 8)
  At Potsdam Conference, Allies agree to demilitarize Germany, divide it into four zones; accept war crimes trial in theory
  American capture Okinawa from Japan
  United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9), Japan, killing approximately 110,000, mostly civilians
  Japan surrenders on August 14; V-J day proclaimed on August 15
  Soviet troops occupy North Korea; U.S. troops occupy South Korea
  Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh takes power
  United Nations established with 51 founding member nations
  Nuremberg trials begin to prosecute Nazi war criminals; last until 1946