Daniel K. Inouye, Senator and Medal of Honor Recipient, 9/07/1924 – 12/17/2012
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii speaks to the Remembrance Day audience at the USS ARIZONA Memorial Visitors Center. USS ARIZONA survivors are honored during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/04/1991
On December 8, 1941, the day after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress and asked for a declaration of war against Japan. The Senate quickly drafted and unanimously passed this joint resolution. The House voted on the resolution the same afternoon, and passed it 388-1. (The only “no” came from Representative Jeannette Rankin, a well-known pacifist who represented Wyoming.)
Senate Joint Resolution 116, Declaring War Against Japan, SEN 77A-B2,12/08/1941, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 4477429)
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers staged a surprise attack on U.S. military and naval forces in Hawaii. In a devastating defeat, the United States suffered 3,435 casualties and loss of or severe damage to 188 planes, 8 battleships, 3 light cruisers, and 4 miscellaneous vessels. Japanese losses were less than 100 personnel, 29 planes, and 5 midget submarines.
These photographs were submitted to the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack as exhibits for the investigation about four years after they were taken.
Photograph of the wreckage of U.S. destroyers Downes and Cassin in Pearl Harbor, 12/07/1941, Records of Joint Committees of Congress (ARC 306533)
Photograph of the wreckage-strewn Naval Air Station at Pearl Harbor following the Japanese attack, 12/07/1941, Records of Joint Committees of Congress (ARC 306541)
Photograph of a wing from a Japanese bomber shot down on the grounds of the Naval Hospital, Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/07/1941, Records of Joint Committees of Congress (ARC 306539)
Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from Center archives specialist Christine Blackerby.
“The President is hereby authorized to establish…a Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps for non-combatant service with the Army of the United States for the purpose of making available to the national defense when needed the knowledge, skill, and special training of the women of this Nation.”
On May 15, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed H.R. 6293 into law, establishing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). This new unit operated alongside, not within, the Army. Benefits, status, and pay differed from normal military service.
Six months before America entered World War II (and about a year prior to WAAC passing), Representative Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) introduced H.R. 4906 to establish WAAC, but it was not well received. Then Japan’s deliberate attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 altered perspectives. Young, able men joined or were drafted into the military, and questions began to circle throughout Congress: Would there be enough soldiers to win this war? Where could the military find more workers?
Rep. Rogers provided an answer to these questions when she introduced a new WAAC bill, H.R. 6293, into the House of Representatives on January 2, 1942. Supporters for H.R. 6293 came from a wide range of people, including General George C. Marshall, Eleanor Roosevelt, and American women’s groups. Opposition weighed heavily on the belief that women belonged in the home and that the entire organization would be viewed as weak or ineffective by other countries and their militaries.
Despite resistance to changing roles of women, the need for more military “manpower” prevailed, and the bill passed the House with a vote of 249 to 86. While the House supported the bill with large numbers, it passed the Senate with a slimmer margin of 38 to 27.
H.R. 6293, 1/28/1942, HR 77A-B5, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 4397811)
The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, before a Joint Session of Congress, President Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan. President Roosevelt’s message conveyed the national outrage over the attack by pronouncing December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy.”
Congress quickly adopted the war resolution. As you can see on the tally sheet below, the House had only one dissenting vote. The only no came from Representative Jeannette Rankin (R-MT), a well-known pacifist. The reading clerk taking the roll call later recalled that members were pleading with Rankin to vote present rather than no. Nevertheless, the resolution passed 388-1.
Day of Infamy Speech, 12/8/1941, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 595426)
Roll Call Tally Sheet, 12/8/1941, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 2600932)
There were a ton of great blog entries yesterday from the National Archives commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. If you haven’t seen them all, check out this great link round-up created by one of our Prologue bloggers.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers staged a surprise attack on U.S. military and naval forces in Hawaii. In a devastating defeat, the United States suffered 3,435 casualties and the loss of or severe damage to 188 planes, 8 battleships, 3 light cruisers, and 4 miscellaneous vessels. Japanese losses were less than 100 personnel, 29 planes, and 5 midget submarines.
Four years after the attack, Congress established the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack. Their task was to make a full and complete investigation of the facts relating to the events and circumstances leading up to or following the attack. In its investigation, the committee sought to determine whether shortcomings or failures on the U.S. side might have contributed to the disaster and, if so, to suggest changes that might protect the country from another attack in the future. The committee’s public hearings began on November 15, 1945, and continued until May 31, 1946.
The Radar Plot of Detector Station Opana was an exhibit of the Joint Committee. The 22 x 31-inch radar plot was made by Privates Joseph L. Lockard and George Elliot at the Opana Radar Station on the morning of December 7, 1941. It indicated a large number of aircraft approaching the island of Oahu. The control officer whom Lockard and Elliot called believed the radar signals announced the approach of American B-17s scheduled for arrival the same day. It wasn’t until they arrived back at camp that they learned of the Japanese attack and surmised that the planes they had observed on the radar were the same ones who led the attack.
Learn more about the documents relating to the Pearl Harbor attack by visiting our featured document on the Day of Infamy.
Radar Plot from Station Opana, exhibits compiled 11/15/1945 - 5/31/1946, Records of the Joint Committees of Congress (ARC 2600930)