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The United States Enters WW II
Mr. Macomber
Mercedes High School
• You will be able to explain why the U.S.
became involved in WWII
• You will be able to explain why the date 1941
is important
U.S. Neutrality
• Two days after Britain and France declared
war against Germany, President Roosevelt
declared the United States neutral.
The U.S. Supports England
• Neutrality Act of 1939Weapons can now
be sold, but on “cash
and carry “ basis
• Destroyer DealRoosevelt trades 50
old U.S. navy
destroyers to Great
Britain in exchange for
land to build naval
Isolationist Debate
• Fight for Freedom CommitteeThe U.S. Should Fight
Germany Now
(Interventionist position)
• Committee to Defend America
by Aiding the Allies- Help
Britain (and Russia) fight so
we don’t have to by sending
more supplies
• America First Committee- (led
by Charles Lindberg) America
should mind our own
business and stay out of the
war (Isolationist Position)
Election of 1940
• President Roosevelt
ran for an
third term as
president in the
election of 1940
• Both Roosevelt and
the Republican
candidate, Wendell
Willkie, said they
would keep the
United States neutral
but assist the Allied
• Roosevelt won by a
large margin
Lend Lease Act
• President Roosevelt proposed
the Lend-Lease Act (HB 1776),
which stated that the United
States could lend or lease
arms to any country
considered “vital to the defense
of the United States.”
• In June 1941, in violation of the
Nazi-Soviet Pact, Hitler began a
massive invasion of the Soviet
• Great Britain, Russia, & China
received the bulk of lend lease
The Hemispheric Defense Zone
• President Roosevelt
developed the hemispheric
defense zone, which
declared the entire western
half of the Atlantic as part of
the Western Hemisphere
and therefore neutral.
• This allowed Roosevelt to
order the U.S. Navy to
patrol the western Atlantic
Ocean and reveal the
location of German
submarines to the
The Atlantic Charter
• In August 1941, President
Roosevelt and Prime
Minister Winston Churchill
met onboard a ship near
Canada and agreed to the
Atlantic Charter.
• This agreement committed
the two leaders to a
postwar world of
democracy, nonaggression,
free trade, economic
advancement, collective
security, and freedom of the
Stopping Japanese Ambitions
• In Asia, the U.S. tried to
discourage the Japanese
from threatening the
colonies of countries
fighting the Germans (such
as Britain & Holland)
• The U.S. also wants to stop
Japan’s invasion of China
(a U.S. Ally) and get them
to leave
U.S. Embargoes Japan
• Japan was a country with
few natural resources such
as iron & oil and imported
most of these materials
from the U.S..
• In July 1940, Congress
passed the Export
Control Act, giving
Roosevelt the power to
restrict the sale of strategic
important for fighting a
war–to other countries
U.S. Embargoes Japan
• Roosevelt immediately blocked the sale of
airplane fuel and scrap iron to Japan.
• The Japanese signed an alliance with Germany
and Italy and became a member of the
Axis powers
• By July 1941, Japan moved into French IndoChina (Vietnam) and Japanese aircraft posed
a direct threat to the British Empire bases of
Singapore & Hong Kong.
U.S. reacts to Japanese Aggression
• Roosevelt responded to the
threat by freezing all
Japanese money in US
banks and reducing the
amount of oil shipped to
• He also sent General
MacArthur to the Philippines
to build up American
defenses there as well as
moved the U.S. Pacific
fleet from its bases in
California to Hawaii.
Japan’s Choice
• Japan was faced with the
choice of continuing its war
w/ China and having its oil
cut off or giving in to U.S.
demands that would make
them look weak
• The Japanese decided to
attack resource-rich
(especially oil) British and
Dutch colonies in
Southeast Asia, seize the
Philippines, and attack
Pearl Harbor so the U.S.
Pacific fleet would be
crippled and unable to stop
Japan Attacks the U.S.
• Japan attacked Pearl
Harbor on December 7,
1941, sinking or damaging 21
ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet,
killing 2,403 Americans, and
injuring hundreds more.
• The next day, Dec 8, 1941
President Roosevelt asked
Congress to declare war on
Germany & Italy Declares War
• On December 11,
1941, Japan’s
allies– Germany and
Italy– declared war on
the United States