United States and American History: Early 1941

About the history of the United States in early 1941, Roosevelt outlines the four freedoms and meets with Churchill, the lend-lease bill is passed, World War II continues.


Jan. 7 The Office of Production Management was created to oversee U.S. defense programs. Named as joint directors: William S. Knudson (for Management) and Sidney Hillman (for Labor).

Jan. 13 Roosevelt addressed a joint session of the 77th Congress. He appealed for its support to defend the Four Essential Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear.

Mar. 11 Lend-Lease Bill #1776 was signed into law. It provided $50 billion in arms, services, and supplies for the Axis's enemies. Britain, nearly bankrupt after draining its Treasury of cash for war supplies, advised the U.S. of its financial situation through a letter from Churchill. Roosevelt learned of an 1892 Statute which gave the Secretary of War the right to lease, for a 5-year period, any army property that was not needed for public use. Further research showed that this leasing actually had been done in the past, setting a legal precedent. The President applied the hoary statute to aid Britain. Three months later, he extended the credit plan to include Russia, attacked by Hitler on June 22 in one of der Fuhrer's most colossal blunders.

Mar. 27 The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, meeting with their British counterparts, agreed that, if the U.S. became militarily involved with both Germany and Japan, the best strategy was to make a concentrated effort to beat the European Axis powers 1st. Their reasoning Germany's war potential was greater and her superior technology could at any moment produce some secret weapon that might tip the scales in her favor.

Apr. 11 The Office of Price Administration--the OPA--headed by Leon Henderson, was established. The OPA "czar" was given full authority to set production priorities, to fix maximum price schedules, to punish--by with-holding materials--plants which refused to co-operate, and to set up rationing programs. On December 27, the OPA announced the 1st item to be rationed: rubber tires.

Summer In an action to back up his policies, President Roosevelt "froze" all German and Italian assets, all assets belonging to European countries already invaded or occupied, and all assets owned by the Japanese. He also prohibited, by embargo, all shipments of gasoline or scrap iron to Japan.

Aug. 3 President Roosevelt, leaving Washington for an announced "fishing trip" off Martha's Vineyard, Mass., continued on to Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, for the Atlantic Conference with Winston Churchill. The Atlantic Charter, drawn up there by the U.S. and Britain, in its 8 articles laid out the common war aims of the 2 countries. The U.S., technically still a neutral, agreed to join in "the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny." Taking note of Japan's menacing southward movement in the Pacific to establish the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," FDR reassured the British leader: "Leave that to me. I think I can baby them along for 3 months."

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