America was the largest military power in the world — in theory.
The large population, generous natural resources, advanced infrastructure, and solid capital base were all just potential. Centralization and mobilization were necessary to jump-start this unwieldy machine. Within a week of Pearl Harbor, Congress passed the WAR POWERS ACT, granting wide authority to the President to conduct the war effort. Throughout the war hundreds more alphabet agencies were created to manage the American homefront.
First the United States needed to enlarge its armed forces. Because of the peacetime draft, the UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES boasted over 1.5 million members. By the end of the war, that number rose to 12 million. A more expansive draft and a vigorous recruitment campaign produced these results. Prodded by ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FDR created women’s auxiliary forces for the army (WACS), navy (WAVES), air force (WASPS), and Coast Guard (SPARS). The colossal ranks of the armed services created a huge labor shortage.
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Toward this end a “WORK OR FIGHT” propaganda campaign was waged. “ROSIE THE RIVETER” posters beckoned housewives to leave the home and enter the nation’s factories. About 6.5 million females entered the workforce during the war years, many for the first time.