Before America joined the fight in World War 2, it was in a state of disarray. The Great Depression, which began in 1929, had ravaged the nation and resulted in record-high numbers of unemployed, 25%. Once Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, this gave the United States an opportunity to join the war full-time as they only aided the allies in a non-combative role. Joining the war would change everything for the United States. In doing so, idle factories were to be immediately repurposed into producing food, gear, and weapons for our military. Since most men were sent to fight the wars overseas, men who had been out of work for several years and women had taken their spots on the assembly line. During this time over 6 million women alone, entered the workplace to support the war efforts. War production allowed the US economy to boom. No other country could match the US’ exponential production of 300,000 warplanes per year, which was praised as the reason the war was one by one foreign military general. After the war, the US saw itself reach new levels of prosperity for a majority of citizens and saw the economy continue to boom. New technology and opportunities allowed minorities to lay the foundation for the civil rights movement. World War 2 had given the US economy a way out of the Great Depression by increasing the demand for military goods.
During 1929 the United States had been extremely optimistic and hopeful for the new decade. The United States was prospering, Americans were employed at high rates and bringing in income that hadn't been seen for years. Unfortunately, things were about to take a drastic turn for the worse. In an event that would be known as Black Tuesday, the stock market would begin to take a tumble. Due to numerous reasons, investors had begun to grow weary and skeptical of the stock market system in place at the time. This caused them to sell their stocks in a widespread panic frenzy due to the loss of value as a result of others selling their shares. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped nearly 100 points, leaving analysts expecting the worst financial depression in the history of the United States. Many investors had gone into irreparable debt and as a result, many people had committed suicide. Over the following years, the economy fell into a downward spiral. By the year 1930, over 25,000 businesses had closed down, and would leave many workers jobless. As a result of this people began frantically pulling money out of banks, which forced many banks to close down. All of these factors would lead to a recession so long and bad it would be forever known as the Great Depression. While the Depression was going on, there was a war raging overseas between European nations. For the most part, the United States had done its best to remain neutral in the war. This was shown by the Neutrality Act of 1935, which forbade the US from selling supplies to nations engaged in war. This showed the US’ willingness to keep itself out of any conflicts between countries and the country's isolationist tendencies. However, the president at the time, Theodore Roosevelt had other ideas. He didn't think remaining neutral was a good thing and wanted to be proactive in stopping the evil that was making its way through Europe. As time went on, Roosevelt was able to sway Congress into loosening restrictions in the Neutrality Act. So much so that the US eventually began giving military supplies to Great Britain and France in 1939. As the war raged on, President Roosevelt began gradually building up military strength. He did so by building more combat planes and setting up a military draft system that required men 25 to 31 to register in order to build up military numbers.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, The Japanese Naval Fleet launched one of the most devastating attacks on United States soil. A day that Roosevelt said “would live in infamy” would bring the US into World War 2, ending their isolationist views by joining the allied nations fighting against the Axis powers. The tension between Japan and the US had been building years before as a result of Japan's expansion. The United States had passed multiple sanctions against Japan to restrict trade that included military parts such as oil and scrap metal. Before the attack, the two nations had been negotiating to ease sanctions, to no avail. Emperor Hirohito and Japan had viewed war with the United States as inescapable. Many of Japan's military experts viewed a war between the two nations as unwinnable. The only way to defeat the Americans was to destroy their navy in a Fatal sneak attack. In the early hours of the morning, the Japanese commenced their attack. Over 300 warplanes of the Japanese fleet began to attack the base completely by surprise. Over 2,400 American civilians and service, members were killed in an attack that lasted over 2 hours. The Japanese also managed to destroy all the Battleships stationed at Pearl Harbor as well as a few other smaller ships. They also destroyed over 150 American warplanes in the airfield attack. One Japanese Admiral was afraid that they had just awoken a sleeping tiger. The day after the attack, December 8, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a determined speech to Congress declaring war on the Empire of Japan. 3 days after that, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. With the United States entering World War 2 production would have to be stepped up to meet the demands needed for 2 theaters of war. Congress would help meet those demands by passing the War Powers Act which gave the president authority to reorganize the government, regulate businesses and censor some forms of mail and communication in the country. During this time many factories began being repurposed to mass produce military supplies such as ammunition, bombs, and warplanes. Workers at Ford were able to produce bomber planes at an astonishing rate of one plane per hour. Many auto manufacturing companies got in on the war production boom, but fewer companies had more success than General Motors. At the end of the war, GM had become the largest military contractor in the world and was responsible for $12 billion worth of war supplies in production. The poverty of the Great Depression was slowly but surely going away. For most that had lost their jobs during the Depression, they were able to find some prosperity and return to a somewhat normal life. Over 20 million Americans were able to find success and jobs, many of which were on the West Coast in shipyards and Airplane Factories.
As the war was coming to an end the Allies were seen as the clear victor in both Europe and Japan. The aftermath of World War 2 left the United States in a state of extreme prosperity. Americans were employed at historic rates. The unemployment percentage of the Great Depression, which was 25%, had dropped to an all-time low of 1.2%. A statistic that has not been matched to this day. The future looked bright but not everyone viewed it that way. Some economy experts expected the US to end up in a crisis with unemployment rates predicted to go back to that of the Great Depression days. These theories were easily disproved by the population. Many veterans returning from war had no trouble finding jobs and consumers had saved money, due to rationing during the war effort, and were ready to spend their money. With the war over and family out of harm's way, many Americans indulged in consumerism by purchasing houses, cars, appliances, clothes, and many other things. The automobile industry was booming post-war with sales quadrupling from 1945 to 1965, and by the end of the 1950s, 75% of Americans owned automobiles. World War 2 had transformed the US from an isolationist nation in the midst of a financial recession to an enormous Global Superpower.
In conclusion, The United States entering World War 2 was what allowed the nation to crawl out of the Great Depression and become a World Superpower. The Stock market crash put the US into the Great Depression. This caused unemployment rates to reach an all-time high and many people were down on their luck. The sneak attack by the Japanese immediately force the US into World War 2, when they were an isolationist nation at the time. Production was needed to keep up with the demand of the war effort and to ensure victory. The United States and the allied powers won the war in 1945 and the US continued to see prosperity after the war. Many people began owning a home and pursuing many opportunities. The United States was reaching new heights of prosperity that had never been seen before.