WARTIME SETBACKS
AND GAINS
Chapter 34

During the years leading up to the United States’ entry into World War II, Californians, like other Americans, had become edgy over the threat posed by the European dictators and the Japanese military clique. The attack upon the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese dive bombers on December 7, 1941, created genuine widespread panic. Soon thereafter, Californians heard reports of the surrender of Sumatra, Borneo, and the Philippines. Could California be next?

Wartime preparations brought about great economic dislocations and social tensions. Manpower problems, rationing, and finding enough transportation, were only a few of the new challenges. The need to house defense workers became an especially high priority. Military training camps, shipyards, and aircraft factories also had to be constructed quickly. Nothing must impede the job of getting planes, tanks, and guns to the fighting front. California’s war industries drew workers from all parts of the United States.

The state dismantled its “bum blockade” formerly erected against invading “Okies” and “Arkies.” Now border officials did an about-face, encouraging all such workers to flock westward for employment in California’s new war plants. Local chambers of commerce joined in as well, wooing new industries to move into the state.

Well before the attack on Pearl Harbor, internal security had become a paramount consideration. During 1940, the state legislature had passed the Dilworth Anti-Spy Bill, as well as the Slater Anti-Sabotage Act, and the Tenney Anti-Subversive Law. This legislation reflected a mounting antipathy toward Asians, particularly against the Japanese.

By 1940, there were 120,000 Japanese living in California. Ironically, their increasing affluence set them apart from the white majority. Jealous competi-

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