THE ARESENAL OF DEMOCRACY: U.S. War Production (part 1)



    Introduction to World War 2 the Homefront, with your host, Mr. Goodman! 


    1. AIM






    Read the selection below and answer with thoughtful and well-developed answers. Sorry, one-sentence, short answers will not do here!


     “America, the Arsenal of Democracy”

    excerpts, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat  December 29, 1940



    Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock has our American civilization been in such danger as now. For ... this year,... three powerful nations, two in Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves together in the threat that if the United States of America interfered with or blocked the expansion program of these three nations -- a program aimed at world control -- they would unite in ultimate action against the United States….


    The British people and their allies today are conducting an active war against this unholy alliance.  Our own future security is greatly dependent on the outcome of that fight. …


    The people of Europe who are defending themselves do not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for their liberty and for our security….We must get these weapons to them, …so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure.


    American industrial genius, unmatched throughout all the world in the solution of production problems, has been called upon to bring its resources and its talents into action. Manufacturers of watches, of farm implements, of Linotypes and cash registers and automobiles, and sewing machines and lawn mowers and locomotives, are now making fuses and bomb packing crates and telescope mounts and shells and pistols and tanks.


    But all of our present efforts are not enough. We must have more ships, more guns, more planes -- more of everything.   …it is the purpose of the nation to build now with all possible speed every machine, every arsenal, every factory that we need to manufacture our defense material…


    We must be the great arsenal of democracy.


    1. What argument does FDR make for the US to aid the allies?  discuss and refer to the text.
    2. According to the text, what are people the people of Europe asking of the US? What are they not asking?
    3. How does FDR describe how businesses are converting to war manufacturing?
    4. At the end of his message, what does FDR say America must now do?  
    5. This speech was around a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. How do you think mobilizing US industry towards war production before we were attacked might have helped the United States once the war began for us? 



    III. VIDEO (Edpuzzle)

    “World War 2, American Manufacturing at War”




    “The War At Home: War Production”

    from PBS



    “Powerful enemies must be out-fought and out-produced. It is not enough to just turn out a few more planes, a few more tanks, a few more guns, a few more ships than can be turned out by our enemies. We must out-produce them overwhelmingly, so that there can be no question of our ability to provide a crushing superiority of equipment in any theater of the world war”


    1. What does FDR call the US to do in In the quote at the beginning of the article?
    2. How much material did the US produce compared to the rest of the world? Give specific examples from the text.
    3. According to the article, what kind of production goals did Roosevelt set in 1942 and 1943?
    4. What were the agencies FDR created to coordinate war production?
    5. How did the American government get funds and resources to support the massive amount of production?
    6. How did companies retrofit their factories to produce war materials? What were some specific examples from the text?
    7. How did the US meet the demand for labor, especially since so many men were going overseas to fight the war?
    8. How long were many factories open and producing?
    9. Generally what was the attitude of the people in the article about the work they were doing—how did they see the work they were doing?



    Stay tuned for part two of this lesson when we will visit more sources on U.S. War Production and will return to reflect and summarzie the AIM.  In the meantime..