America Enters WW II and Pearl Harbor Lesson Plan

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As tension built in Europe and Asia in the 1930s, many in the USA wanted to avoid getting involved. In 1935, Congress passed the Neutrality Acts to try and prevent the USA from entering into another world war. This meant the nation would remain neutral in the various conflicts around the world. Struggling with the Great Depression, only being decades away from WW I, trying to avoid Americans dying in another European conflict, and other issues created this desire for neutrality in the USA. Yet, in 1939, Congress agreed to FDR’s “Cash-and-Carry” weapons policy. This meant nations could buy supplies, if they paid cash and transported them through their own ships. While Congress did not want to choose a side in Europe's conflict, it was clear that the USA wanted Britain and France to emerge victorious over Germany and Italy. Germany, Italy, and Japan joined forces and created the Axis powers by signing the Tripartite Pact. In the election of 1940, FDR was reelected to a 3rd term, breaking the two term tradition of Washington. It was also clear that FDR supported Britain and France and wanted to abandon neutrality.

FDR asked Congress to increase funding for the national defense. This was a precautionary step to ensure the military was ready for war. Congress agreed with his precaution and created the Selective Training and Service Act. This was the first peace time draft in the history of the USA. All males 21 to 35 years of age were registered to remain prepared in case conflict broke out. FDR also got support for the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, which stated Britain could “borrow” USA supplies and return them. Isolationists were outraged because they wanted to stay out of the war. In June of 1941, Hitler went against his agreement with Joseph Stalin to split Poland and attacked the USSR. In response to this, Stalin’s Soviet Union received supplies from the USA, despite the fact that this regime had a Communist government.

Japan had attacked Manchuria in China to expand their country and began taking over other areas in the Pacific, like French-Indo China (Vietnam). As Hitler was taking over various parts of Europe, Japan was conquering various areas in the Pacific Ocean. The USA tried an economic embargo to petition Japan’s actions, but this did not stop Japan. Although, Japan did lie and proclaimed they wanted peace with the USA.

While claiming to desire peace with the USA, Japan knew that the USA was their largest obstacle in their plan to dominate the Pacific. In a surprise approach, on December 7, 1941, Japan, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, attacked Pearl Harbor, a USA naval base in Hawaii. 180 Planes attacked killing over 2,400 Americans and wounding over 1,000 people. 21 ships were sunk, including 8 battle ships. Before this incident, many desperately wanted to remain neutral. After Pearl Harbor, this was no longer an option. Congress agreed to the FDR’s request for a declaration of war and America finally entered WW II. Since Japan was in an alliance with Germany, this meant the USA would also be going to war in Europe as well. Therefore, the USA was going to have to fight a two front war against the Axis Powers.

US History Lesson Plans Include
1) Bell ringer / opening activity
2) PowerPoint presentation
3) Guided notes worksheet for PowerPoint presentation
4) Bonus worksheet (vocabulary, crosswords, word search, etc.)
5) Daily quiz / assessment - exit slip!
6) Content reading handout
7) Compatible with ALL textbooks
8) Answer keys for all worksheets, handouts, & assessments
9) Editable documents (word, PowerPoint, etc.)
10) PDF copies for easy viewing & printing
11) Aligned to national standards
12) Works with Unit or as a stand alone lesson
13) Other bonus materials (videos, extra worksheets, etc.)
Most of our plans include the contents of this list. Please see the photo above for actual contents.
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Teaching Duration
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America Enters WW II and Pearl Harbor Lesson Plan