Developments in American History from 1942 to 1953

  • Congress of Racial Equality founded

    Congress of Racial Equality founded
    CORE was founded by James Farmer as a nonviolent organization for nonviolent action towards improving race relations and terminating black oppression. It became influential through beginning the movement of sit-ins and Freedom Rides, successfully challenging public segregation. Ultimately, its work greatly assisted the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • The Battle of Coral Sea

    The Battle of Coral Sea
    In May, the Japanese sought to take control of Port Moresby in New Guinea because of its strategic location in the Coral Sea. The Allies cracked enough of the Japanese code to anticipate this attack and intercept it. The consequent clash became the first ever air-sea battle as both sides used aircraft carriers and employed aerial attacks to inflict damage. The Japanese had too many of their planes destroyed to continue the attack and retreated, leaving the Allies victorious.
  • The Battle of Midway

    The Battle of Midway
    Reeling from defeat in the Battle of Coral Sea and hoping to recreate the success at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto attacked the Allied base on Midway Island in a layered assault only a month later in June. However, the Allies decoded transmissions about their plans and prepared for it accordingly. The battle ended with all four Japanese carriers destroyed by American forces, and it proved to be a pivotal moment in which the Pacific theater turned in favor of America.
  • Executive Order 9066

    Executive Order 9066
    In response to the horrific war with Japan, FDR issued Executive Order 9066, which gave American officials the power to force American citizens of Japanese descent to reside in internment camps for the course of the war. They were forced to sell their businesses, pack up what they could, and leave their homes to be corralled into sparse camps surrounded with barb-wire fences and armed guards for the remainder of the war. President Bush later issued a formal apology for this atrocious violation.
  • The Doolittle Raid

    The Doolittle Raid
    This was a successful American mission to bomb Japan’s mainland in retaliation to the Pearl Harbor Attack. It was America’s first air operation against Japan, and bolstered the hopes of America for defeating the Japanese in WWII. However, Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist troops in China were left to bear the brunt of the consequences of this raid because the Japanese launched their longest attack against China following the raid.
  • Detroit Riot of 1943

    Detroit Riot of 1943
    This was one of the worst riots that occurred during WWII. It was rooted in the tension that had grown from the migration of black people to the city seeking jobs. This caused the white population to push back, trying to discourage them from entering their neighborhoods. A fistfight in an amusement park between a black and a white man dissolved into 24 hours of rioting, looting, burning, and brawling. FDR sent 6,000 federal troops to break it the tension. 25 black and 9 white people died.
  • Tehran Conference

    Tehran Conference
    This was a 3-day conference in Tehran, Iran, in which FDR, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin, discussed how to end WWII. By the conclusion of the conference, Britain and America had agreed to the D-Day invasion in northern France, and the Soviets had agreed to act as a diversion on the Eastern Front. Stalin also agreed to join America in pacifying Japan once Germany had been defeated.
  • Operation Overlord

    Operation Overlord
    The Battle of Normandy heralded the beginning of the end of WWII. It was an extensive invasion of combined American, Canadian, and British forces who landed on five beaches in northern France and began pushing through the land. The ambitious offense began in June and lasted until August, and the Allies successfully freed France.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt dies

    Franklin D. Roosevelt dies
    Roosevelt was and is the only president who was ever elected for four terms. Unfortunately, he died early in his fourth term from cerebral hemorrhage just a few months before WWII ended. He had been a faithful shepherd for the U.S. and maintained a “good neighbor” throughout the atrocious war, first supplying aid to France and Britain and then guiding America fully into the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He continues to be well-known as one of the best presidents in America's history.
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    Harry S. Truman's Presidency

    Truman made some of the most vital decisions at the conclusion of WWII. He oversaw the deployment of the atomic bombs in Japan. In domestic policy, he presented the Fair Deal, and he established the Truman Doctrine in foreign affairs, which established that the U.S. would help resist the spread of communism. He launched the Berlin Airlift, negotiated the NATO alliance, and oversaw the Korean War. Ultimately, he established important policies in the Cold War and navigated the end of WWII.
  • Germany surrenders

    Germany surrenders
    On this date in northeastern France, General Alfred Jodl signed on behalf of the German High Command the complete surrender of Germany’s troops on both fronts. This was the official end of World War II in the European Theatre.
  • The Potsdam Conference

    The Potsdam Conference
    This was the last conference between the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the U.S., and it lasted from July 17-August 2. It established the post-war conditions for reparations, war crimes, and the administration of Germany. One major focus in postwar Germany was developing its economy to improve its peacetime state. They also declared at this conference that they required unconditional surrender from Japan.
  • V-J Day

    V-J Day
    On Aug. 6, an atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" detonated for the first time over Hiroshima in Japan. When the Japanese did not immediately surrender, "Fat man," a second atomic bomb, was released over Nagasaki on Aug. 9. On Aug. 15, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies. Over a hundred thousand deaths resulted in Hiroshima, and between 60,000 and 80,000 died in Nagasaki.
  • Iron Curtain Speech

    Iron Curtain Speech
    In Fulton, Missouri, former Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered the iconic speech in which he identified the “iron curtain” that the Soviets were creating between their domain and the rest of Europe. He predicted that the Soviets would keep trying to expand their control, and that peace was not sustainable. This speech became well-known for its accuracy and foresight into the years to come.
  • Taft-Hartley Act

    Taft-Hartley Act
    This act, passed by Congress despite President Truman’s veto, weakened labor union activities by tightening their restrictions and regulations. It was designed to limit their power and restrict any Communist influence in unions. It countered the pro-union laws established by the Wagner Act during WWII.
  • The Marshall Plan

    The Marshall Plan
    Also called the European Recovery Program, this plan spanned four years and spent more than 15 billion dollars on reconstructing and aiding the recovery of European cities that had been ravaged by World War II. It sought to prop up the European economy once more and establish commercial relations between the U.S. and Europe. It also was an anti-Communist effort, working to push back against Soviet influence and appeal to the impoverished populations. The Soviets refused to accept any help.
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    The Berlin Blockade

    This was the first dramatic eruption of the post-WWII tension. The Soviets felt threatened by the Marshall Plan and the other Allies’ attempts at instituting a general currency, so they cut off all transport to western Berlin. This isolated the citizens there from access to basic necessities such as food, medical supplies, electricity, etc. President Truman launched the massive Berlin Airlift to supply West Berlin with resources. It took nearly a full year for the Soviets to lift the blockade.
  • the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

    the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    This was a mutual aid and defense alliance that was formed between the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. It established that if one of them was threatened, it would be treated as a threat to everyone else. This was established as an effort to provide security for western Europe from the threatening expansion of the Soviet Union.
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    The Korean War

    Conflict began when northern Democratic People’s Republic of Korea forces attacked southern Republic of Korea. The Northern Korean troops were supported by the Soviets, and the U.S. sent troops to back South Korea. This was the first violent conflict of the Cold War. It became a stalemate with heavy casualties and no results, and they eventually agreed on an armistice. The two countries remained separated, and the 2-mile demilitarized zone still stands between them today.