6: Pearl Harbor

WWII comes to America


On December 7, 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on an American naval base in Oahu, Hawaii.

The attack came while peace talks were apparently still underway, as an attempt to catch the U.S. off guard.

Japan was planning belligerent activity against the Netherlands, the UK, and China. It’s intent with the Pearl Harbor attack was to cripple the American naval fleet to prevent to get them out of the way.

The Japanese brought 6 aircraft carriers, with 353 Japanese figter planes. There were 8 U.S. Navy Battleships present, and they were all seriously damaged. Four of them were sunk.

The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer.

188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed and 2,402 Americans were killed and 1,282 wounded.

The U.S. joined the war the next day by declaring war on Japan, an Axis power.

What effects did it have?

The attack on Pearl Harbor came as a wake up call to America.

Before the attack, isolationism was prevalent in America. But after the attack, the general American attitude changed radically. Americans everywhere united in solidarity with the war effort.

As Japanese General Yamomoto puts it:

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

The good

  • The U.S. joined the war, and played a huge role in defeating the Axis powers(even though it came in late).
  • The American economy was pulled out of depression as a result of the war economy.
  • National pride and patriotism soared.

The bad

  • The federal government was plunged into even deeper debt.
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor lead to executive order 9066, which put Japanese Americans in concentration camps.

Good and bad

  • The U.S. and Soviet Union became the only remaining superpowers in the world.
  • The baby boomer generation emerged.



A razed airplane field at Pearl Harbor.


A row of destroyed planes after the attack.


The destroyed USS Arizona going up in flames.


The memorial of the USS Arizona that is in place today.


A civilian who was killed at the attack