day ended isolationism.
Arthur Vandenberg describing the effect
of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
Hawaii, December 7, 1941
By late 1941
the United States and Japan had clashed over Japanese expansion
in China and Indochina for over a decade. When the United States
attempted to contain this aggression by imposing embargos on raw
materials needed by the Japanese, the diplomatic situation deteriorated,
and while negotiations continued, both sides began to prepare for
war. The United States reinforced its Pacific bases in the Philippine
Islands and at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Japanese military began
preparing for an attack on American, British, and Dutch holdings
in Asia and the Pacific. When negotiations broke down in late November,
these plans went into effect.
War came on
Sunday, December 7. Just before 8 a.m., Japanese bombers and torpedo
planes attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The surprise
was complete, the devastation nearly so. Two waves of planes sank
four U.S. battleships, damaged four others, and sank three cruisers
and three destroyers. Almost 250 American aircraft were destroyed.
There were more than 3,500 American casualties.
The next day
President Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress. Pronouncing
December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy,"
the President asked that Congress declare war on Japan. Shortly
afterward, Congress voted, with only 1 dissent, for a Declaration
of War. On December 11 Germany and Italy declared war on the United