Monthly Archives: December 2012

Significance of Washington crossing the Delaware River


Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...

Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While majority of Americans spend Christmas Day opening presents around a Christmas tree, there was a time when a group of men spent Christmas Day preparing for battle. Hundreds of years ago, the colonists were too busy fighting for independence from Great Britain to celebrate Christmas. It was on Christmas night when George Washington led his men across the Delaware River, a moment that would forever be immortalize since it was one of the turning points of the war. By the end of November 1776, morale amongst the army was low due to the colonists losing several battles that resulted in losing New York to the British. As the end of the year approached so did many enlistments. Washington was worried that the colonists would forget about the cause and return home, further depleting the number of colonists in the army.

On December 19, Thomas Paine published the pamphlet “Common Sense” stating “These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” Washington ordered that this be read out loud to his army in order to remind them that even though times were currently hard, they were fighting for freedom. The next day, General Horatio Gates and General John Sullivan arrived to camp while more militia arrived from New Jersey and Pennsylvania; Washington now had enough men to plan one more attack before the year was over.

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Tr...

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Trumbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Washington was planning to attack the Hessians in nearby Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessians were Prussian soldiers hired by the British Army to fight in the American Revolutionary War. The term “Hessians” comes from the fact that majority of the Prussian solders were from Hesse-Kassel. About 30,000 Prussians served during the American Revolutionary War. The surprise attack was kept secret from the American army and on Christmas morning, Washington ordered that every man, including the musicians, carry a loaded musket and march toward the river. As the men approached the river a storm began – first it rained, which then turned to sleet, and then it finally began to snow. Washington hoped to begin crossing the river at sunset but due to the weather, they did not begin to cross until 90 minutes after the sunset. Washington put Chief of Artillery Henry Knox in charge of the crossing which involved horses, carriages, canons, supplies, and 2,400 soldiers crossing the icy river in boats. Famous men that crossed the river included future President James Monroe, future Justice of the United States John Marshall, and future Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The soldiers had to dodge giant floating icebergs and avoid falling into the freezing water. After the crossing was finished at 3 am on December 26, the army was split into two groups; one group was led by Washington and General Nathanael Greene and the other was led by General Sullivan. While the Hessians were waking up, and recovering from their Christmas celebration, the American army attacked. The battle only lasted 90 minutes and while 4 Americans were killed, 22 Hessians were also killed and 1,000 were taken prisoners. In the next few weeks, Washington and his army won two more battles: the Second Battle of Trenton and Princeton.

The Crossing of the Delaware did not mean much to the colonists at the moment since little damage was done to the British Army in the next few battles resulted from the crossing, but if Washington had failed to cross, then Trenton would have remained under Hessians’ control. The Second Battle of Trenton and the Princeton Battle never would have happened, resulting in morale remaining low among the soldiers and an increasing number of army men returning home. As British General Cornwallis said at the end of the war, Washington won his highest laurels along the banks of the Delaware.


December 18th: Three Reasons to give Thanks


Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...

Mayflower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 18 1620, the Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1606, the Puritans founded their own church separate from the Church of England. After being accused from treason, the Puritans sailed to the Netherlands. After spending twelve years in the Netherlands struggling to make money and adapt to the culture, the Puritans decided to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers boarded the Mayflower and set sail to America. After docking on December 18, the Pilgrims would spend a miserable weather trying to build a settlement; half of the Pilgrims would die. In the spring they made contact with the Wampanoag Tribe and signed a peace treaty with the chief. The following fall, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans would celebrate the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims showed how important it is to be able to practice religion freely – they risked their lives to be able to. Ever since 1620, the United States has been a safe haven to all religions.

Years later, on December 18, 1777, the United States celebrated its first national day of Thanksgiving; they gave thanks to the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the American Revolutionary War since it convinced the French to enter the war at the American’s ally since they were able to fight the British. The American forces were led by Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold while the British forces were led by General John Burgoyne. One of the most important heroes of the battle was Polish Engineer Thaddeus Kosciusko – it was he who fortified the Americans’ defenses along the Hudson Bay, ensuring the British would not be able to attack. In December, Congress wrote “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor.”

"The surrender at Saratoga" shows Ge...

“The surrender at Saratoga” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was the first time all thirteen colonies had celebrated together, one step for them in forming a country. If Americans did not win the Battle of Saratoga, the French may never had sided with the Americans and who knows if the war would have favored the Americans. Then in December 18, 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The Amendment stated “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Though the main goal of the Civil War was to reunite the Union, the North began to hate slavery since it was associated with the South. In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the states rebelling against the North (meanwhile the Northern and Border states still allowed slavery, though majority of states did not practice it). In March 1865, the amendment passed and was ratified in December of the same year. This amendment would abolish all slavery in the United States, creating a large population of African-Americans that would struggle for Civil Rights to this day. Though the United States is still working toward becoming a country where everyone is equal, the 15th Amendment was the first major step in the right direction.

U.S. vs. China: What Country will Win against Elementary School Attackers


Flag at half mast, Laguna Beach, California, M...

Flag at half mast (Photo credit: Siadhal)

On the same day that a shooter killed twenty six innocent victims at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, a knifeman entered an elementary school in China, injuring twenty two children and one adult. Though both were tragic events, only one resulted in death. At first it is easy to compare the two: the United States allows guns which is why the American children were killed while in China, a country that prohibits guns, all the children survived. It’s easy to point a finger at the United States and blame it and its gun-loving cowboys for the reason why twenty little angels are in heaven. It is easy for the Chinese to suggest that the United States follows them and ban guns. And the Chinese government wants everyone to believe the easy view, to know that China is better than the United States; but in reality the United States dealt with the tragedy better than China.

After the Newtown massacre, several Chinese commenters pointed out how the U.S. is at fault for the lives of twenty children because it allows guns. To them, the U.S. is the loser because China does not have to worry about deaths due to guns since it prohibits them (though some Chinese bloggers argue that if they had guns, the government would think twice about taking land and approving projects with destructive effects on their environment.) While those few Chinese were bragging about how awesome their country is, thousands of other Chinese expressed sorrow by lighting candles for those that were killed. On Monday, the hashtag “Honoring Ordinary Heroes” stayed at the top on Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter). But did the Chinese know that seven children were in critical condition due to an attack on an elementary school in their own country? There is currently talk among media outlets that the Chinese government purposely hid knowledge of the knifeman in order to paint China as a safe country and the U.S. as a dangerous country. China uses censorship to control its people by letting them think that China is the best country in the world, though pretending that there are not seven children clinging to life is pathetic.

This is not the first time a man attacked an elementary school in China. In fact, this trend has been increasing in China in the past few years. In 2010, there were numerous attacks on elementary schools in China by men wielding hammers, knives, or meat cleavers, resulting in at least 20 children and adults dead and over 60 injured. Reasons for these increasing attacks include mental illness and a society frustrated with the Chinese government. The Chinese government promised extra security for the primary schools, but where was the security on Friday when a man was able to stab children at a school for over thirty minutes? It was only two months ago that a man with a machete killed three children and injured thirteen others at a private daycare. One month ago, a high school student was stabbed with a knife and died outside of his school. There is no reason why a man was able to attack innocent children for that long. At the Newtown shooting, the police responded in a matter of minutes, preventing more deaths since the shooter committed suicide once he realized that the police were on their way.  China promised security after realizing that the number of attacks on elementary schools was becoming too common, yet it did not go through with that promise. If there was security at the doors of the school, maybe seven children would not be spending the night at a hospital tonight.

Who are these children in critical condition at the hospital right now? The Chinese government has not released the names of any of children involved in the attack or released any updates about the children in critical condition at the hospitals. After the Newtown attack, names and pictures of all the victims were released to the media. Family and friends told reporters their favorite memories of their loved ones, reminding the public how it is more important to remember the victims than the killer.

As Americans watched the television set as the Newtown events unfolded, they watched President Barack Obama speak to the media, shedding tears. Obama is a father to two girls and like many parents, he was thinking about how lucky he is to have his children alive. Obama ordered that flags be flown at half-mast as the country mourned. While the outgoing Chinese President Hu Jinato sent his condolences to Obama, he has not made any public statement of the knifeman attack in his own country. A press conference was cancelled and Chinese reporters admit that they are having trouble finding answers as to why their government ignores the stabbing incident. “Their Obama cried and lowered the flag to half-mast. What about us? The gap, this is the difference between first and second” said one Weibo user (Weibo is a blog site in China).

Though one villain managed to destroy lives in Newtown, survivors told stories of all the heroes that emerged, saving many more lives. Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach lunged at the attacker, trying to stop him while knowing that they would not survive the attack. There is First-grader teacher Victoria Soto who hid her class and when the attackedropened the door, she told him how the children were at the gym; he shot her dead. First-grader teacher Kaitlin Roig survived the attack by hiding all 15 students into a tiny bathroom – believing that they could all die, she told the students she loved them so that would be the last thing they heard. Numerous teachers hid children while other students helped their friends flee the school. The Newtown tragedy showed that even though there is evil in the world, there are more good people. But in China, what happened on Friday remains a mystery and at the moment only one woman emerges as a hero (The Chinese government has yet to say what happened, so this account is only going to what witnesses are saying). Witnesses say that around 7 am, a villager began punching students near the school entrance and Xiang Jiaying, a 85 year-old woman who lived next to the school tried to stop the man before he went inside the school. He chased her back to her house where he broke in, grabbed her kitchen knife, stabbed her, and went back to the school. Reports say that while majority of students managed to barricade the doors, many students were left to fend for themselves since teachers locked themselves in their classrooms. The knifeman was able to injure 22 children before being caught by police with help from other villagers and parents around 8 am. A crazy man was able to injure 22 students and one elderly woman for one hour before adults were able to arrest him. Though what actually happened is not known due to the Chinese government’s silence, there is no reason why children were left to fend for themselves for one hour.

Though China did not lose a life in the recent attack on a school, attacks on schools are becoming too common in China; but yet, the government chooses to hide the attacks and lie to its people on how they are increasing security. The Chinese government also chooses to ignore the high number of people suffering from mental illness in its country, nearly all the attacks are by men suffering from a mental illness. Instead, it arrested 93 people spreading rumors of the world ending on December 21st because they believe that was the reason why the knifeman attacked the school. In the United States, people are calling for stricter gun control laws while ignoring the fact that the shooter, like many others, suffered from a mental illness. Instead of comparing each other’s elementary school attacks and blaming guns, both countries should be focusing on better security at schools and dealing with the growing number of mental illness. “The legal right to carry guns is a symbol of American democracy. The tragedy today is but a price for freedom,” wrote one Sina Weibo blogger, translated by OffBeat China.


Outcry over Chinese state media coverage of tragic school attacks Ernest Kao South China Morning Post

Knifeman attacked children at Henan school Stephen Chen

In China, Newtown hits home Benjamin Carlson global post

Age of Prohibition: Reasons why Banning Guns are not the Answer


In the 1820’s an age of religious revivalism swept the United States. Though this helped increase support for slavery to be banned, it also increased support for alcohol to be banned. Alcohol was seen as the reason for ruining families. Massachusetts banned the sale of alcohol in less than 15-gallon quantities in 1838; though it was repealed two years later, it led the way for Maine to become the first state prohibition law in 1846. In the early 1900’s prohibition support grew among factory workers to increase efficiency of their workers and prevent accidents.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson created a temporary wartime prohibition to save grain for producing food. In 1917, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment which banned manufacturing, transportation, and sale of alcohol within the United States. This was made possible by the number of dry members (those who supposed prohibition of alcohol) winning seats in Congress. At first the number of arrests for drunkenness declined, but the success would not last long. Americans soon became desperate for alcohol and people knew supplying alcohol illegally could result in a large profit. Moonshining (informal production of liquor), bootlegging (illegal manufacturing and sale of liquor) and speakeasies (bars and nightclubs selling alcohol) all became popular over the next decade. The people in charge of these also became wealthy; my great-grandfather was one who made a large profit off bootlegging.

After the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini took control of Italy in the 1920’s, many Italians fled Italy and found home with the mafia in the United States. The mafia and other gangs began importing alcohol from other countries and selling it; they would also violently kill each other in order to gain more area to sell alcohol. Chicago gangster Al Capone was responsible for exterminating numerous rival gangs, which allowed him to make $60 million annually from bootlegging. The costs of law enforcement also went up as more were needed to go after criminals.

Besides the increase in violence due to prohibition, the idea that legalizing the liquor industry would create jobs became a popular thought during the Great Depression. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, allowing the United States to sell alcohol again; the number of gangs and violence decreased soon afterward. Though the United States tried to decrease violence due to alcohol, it instead increased overall violence by allowing the criminals to be in charge of alcohol. If guns were banned, then the criminals would make profit by providing the ones willing to pay with guns. The criminals would also be the only ones with the guns since criminals do not follow rules. The costs of enforcing the gun ban would be high, resulting in Americans paying higher taxes to make sure that their neighbor does not have a gun. Banning guns may seem the answer, but it is not. Switzerland has a low murder rate and yet has the third-highest number of guns per capita on Earth. The highest number of mass shootings in the United States did not happen in 1999 or 2012, it happened in 1929.


The Facts about Mass Shootings John Fund Nation Review Online

Prohibition History Channel

It’s the Guns Michael Moore

Reasons why the Second Amendment Exists


Due to the number of murders caused by guns, many in the United States wish to see the Second Amendment destroyed. To them, they

English: This is a photograph of the statue re...

 Captain John Parker s Kitson and erected in 1900. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

do not see why the common person needs to have a gun in a world where the public is protected by police and the army. In reality, the Second Amendment is one of the most important Amendments in the Constitution. It states “A Well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Though it can be translated into several different ways, it is believed by majority to mean that the common person has a right to own weapons for self-defense. Though the current American government was designed to protect the rights of its citizens, there was a time when Americans were forced to fight for their rights against the king who once protected them.

After numerous wars with its European neighbors, Great Britain needed money and began raising taxes in North America. The Townshend Acts were imposed on 1767; items being imported into the colonies were now taxed. The Americans became enraged that they could not represent themselves and began boycotting the Acts. The leaders asked the king for more protection from the colonists and in 1768, more British troops arrived in Boston. After the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, Parliament enacted the Intolerable Acts to punish the colonies, especially Massachusetts. In 1774, it abolished the provincial government of Massachusetts. On September 1774, the British removed gunpowder and other military supplies; to the colonists, this meant that the British were preparing to go to war with the defenseless colonists.

In 1775, it became known among the rebels that the British were heading to Concord to seize and destroy more military supplies. Concord secretly divided the supplies among near-by towns. On April 18, British troops embarked from boats in Boston and prepared to head to Concord to destroy the supplies and capture Sam Adams and John Hancock, the leaders of the rebels. Paul Revere and William Dawes were sent to warn the towns though only Samuel Prescott, a rebel that met along the way, made it to Concord. At Lexington, 80 militiamen led by Captain John Parker, met British Major John Pitcairn and the 700 British troops. “Stand your ground; don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here” said Parker. Pitcairn demanded the troops lay down their arms but before the colonists could, a shot was fired. The colonists retreated after the quick scuffle – eight colonists were killed.

When the British arrived in Concord they found out that most of the supplies were gone. They decided to burn the small amount of supplies they found but the militiamen hurried to Concord’s North Bridge because they believed the whole town was being burned. These militiamen consisted of men from nearby towns (even from Connecticut) were known as “minute men” for their ability to get ready for a fight on a moment’s notice. Though the British fired first, it was they who ended up retreating. As many as 3,500 militiamen fired constantly for 18 miles, killing 250 redcoats. This was proof that the colonists could stand up to the most powerful army in the world.

When the United States Constitution was adopted on December 15, 1791, the Founding Fathers still remembered how the British were able to take over a town because the colonists could not defend themselves. They wanted to make sure that the common person would be ready to go to war in case the United States was ever under attacked. The Second Amendment was designed to ensure that if any enemy, including the government, threatened the American citizens, the citizens would be able to protect themselves.


Battles of Lexington and Concord History Channel

Bill of Rights History Channel


2001 Potential School Shooter Kills Family Instead


I was in the sixth grade in the year 2001 when rumors went through the school that there was going to be a shooting at the local high school. The high school was only ten minutes away, causing parents to pick up their children from the middle school. Classes were canceled so the students who had parents who worked, like me, stayed at the school to watch movies. No one was really worried and it was nice having classes canceled. Parents were the only ones who worried, probably because Columbine had only happened two years before. Nothing ever happened at the high school but the next day at school, rumors flooded the halls on how a group of high schoolers were going to pull the fire alarms and when the students exit the classrooms, they were going to shoot all the rednecks who teased them.

What I later found out is that a group of students at Lakewood Ranch High School made a suicide pact; they were going to sit around in a circle and use guns to shoot each other. They also talked about pulling the fire alarms and kill all the students (including the rednecks) who teased them in school. Though it was just talk, one student took it seriously – his name was Richard Henderson Jr. On February 28, 2001, he wrote a suicide note and a will. On March 2 (a Friday) he was caught at a McDonald’s with a gun. On March 5, he was going to bring the gun to school and kill students. If the police hadn’t caught him, would he have gone through with the plan? Would it have been another Columbine?

In 2005 I was now a junior at Lakewood Ranch High School. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the news broke about how a young man killed his family with a metal pipe. As new information emerged, I was shocked to find out that the same man who killed his family was the same man who threatened to shoot students four years earlier. Henderson, now a nineteen year-old, was playing videogames with his eleven year-old brother when he grabbed a metal pipe and hit his brother in the head three times, killing him. He then pushed his brother’s body out of the window; afterword, he left his bedroom and killed his grandmother, father, and mother with the metal pipe. That night, he slept in his parents’ bed and the next morning he wrote a note apologizing for murdering them and accepting his punishment. The next few days he stayed with friends and family members before a family member became worried and went to check on the family at their home. Inside the home she found four bodies covered in blood. Henderson was questioned and arrested for murder.

During the trial in 2007, Henderson was painted as a person born with problems. He had bad grades in elementary school and was placed in a dropout prevention program. In middle school, fellow classmates described him as weird. In high school he threatened to shoot students at his high school. He was twice involuntarily committed under the Baker Act. He threatened to stab his ex-wife with a knife and was late on paying child support for his six year-old daughter. It was though Henderson was just evil with the need to kill. The jurors did not buy his insanity plea and instead  found him guilty of murder; he received life in prison. In a world where mass shootings are beginning to be common, I wonder if Lakewood Ranch would have been another mass shooting if Henderson was not caught beforehand at McDonald’s. I wonder if there is anything society can do to save people like Henderson – people born wanting to harm others. Henderson was twice committed, and I assume received help, yet it did not seem to help him at all. Henderson planned to shoot students who teased him and when his plan failed, he woke up years later, killing his loving family instead.

Imagine John Lennon’s Ideal World


Thirty-two years ago, John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark Chapman outside his apartment in New York. Chapman, with a history

John Lennon-DSC_20409

John Lennon (Photo credit: Jeephead)

ranging from child abuse to becoming a Christian camp counselor, believed he was the protagonist in the novel “The Catcher in the Rye” and that he must kill Lennon because Lennon was a phony. On December 8, 1980, Lennon was killed and the whole world mourned and has been mourning since. I was born decades after the Beatles broke up and nine years after Lennon was shot, but like the majority of young adults, I grew up listening to The Beatles because of my parents. To this day I have yet to meet anyone who did not like The Beatles – to me it would be un-American to not like The Beatles. Though music fads come and go The Beatles’ music is able to transcend through time and is the reason why thousands across the world still mourn for Lennon. Lennon was not just a popular singer/songwriter; he represented the idea of peace. Lennon asked the world in Imagine to imagine a world in which there was “Nothing to kill or die for.” Not only did he write songs preaching peace, he was such a strong protester of the Vietnam War that he was deemed a threat to President Nixon’s re-election and threatened with deportation.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon (soundtrack)

The U.S. vs. John Lennon  (Wikipedia)

In December every Christmas radio station plays “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” Though the song was released in 1971 to protest the Vietnam War, the song is still relatable to the present day. Since 2001, the U.S. has lost 6,612 servicemen due to war in the Middle East (Faces of the Fallen). As Lennon wrote “A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear. War is over, if you want it, war is over, now.” As was the case with the Vietnam War, the United States entered another country without a decent plan, resulting in thousands of Americans dying. The fact that history repeats itself is a reason why his songs are relatable to every generation. If Lennon was still here, I bet he would still be protesting the wars.

John Lennon statue in Havana, Cuba

John Lennon statue in Havana, Cuba ( Wikipedia)

Lennon’s songs are still able to unite a world; in the year 2,000 on the 20th anniversary of Lennon’s shooting, Cuban President Fidel Castro unveiled a statue of John Lennon on the 10th anniversary of his death in Havana, Cuba. Castro is no John Lennon for he is famous for taking away humans’ rights, but the fact that he allowed a sculpture in Lennon shows how Lennon is an image of peace in any country.  Lennon painted a world where women would be equal to men, where the color of one’s skin would not matter, and where there would be no more wars. Lennon was taken from the world too soon, which is why it is up to us to keep working for the world that Lennon imagined.

Reasons why Japan attacked Pearl Harbor


December 7 will forever be known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day due to Japan attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941. As every

English: A navy photographer snapped this phot...

A navy photographer snapped this photograph of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, just as the USS Shaw exploded. (80-G-16871) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

student in the United States is taught, after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor theUnited States entered World War Two, leading the Allies to victory. Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps would be discovered, atomic bombs would destroy Japan’s cities, and the United States would enter into another war with its former alliance, the Soviet Union. But not every American student can recall why exactly the Japanese attacked a neutral country; it would be mistreatment of Japanese citizens by the United States and Japan’s global ambitions that would lead to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

In 1879, President Ulysses S. Grant visited Tokyo; he had such an enjoyable experience he vowed to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Japan, but he never had a chance due to losing his re-election. After the 1904 Russo-Japan War, President Theodore Roosevelt would support Russia’s decision not to pay indemnities to Japan, even though Japan won the war. As Japanese immigrants’ numbers began to grow, the United States banned immigration from Japan in the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1908. Throughout the 1920’s, the United States ignored its Japanese citizens’ wishes to be equal. In 1932, the United States ignored Japan’s acquisition of Manchuria because it viewed Japan as an evil conqueror while Japan viewed itself as owning a colony, like France, Great Britain, and the United States did. As Adolf Hitler began to spread his dominance across Europe in the 1930’s, Japan was inspired and began to conquer Southeast Asia.

When Japan began invading Southeast Asia, threatening European and American colonies, the United States began placing embargoes on Japan. On July 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned certain types of iron, steel, and gasoline to Europe. Since 80% of Japan’s petroleum came from the United States, Japan began setting its sights on the oil fields of the Dutch East Indies. On September 6, Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye was given one month to negotiate with the United States. Konoye met with Ambassador Joseph Grew to arrange a meeting with President Roosevelt. Though Grew warned Washington how important this meeting was, he was ignored because Washington believed President Roosevelt would be too accompanying to Japan and the public would not approve. On September 25, the United States loaned $100 million to China and two days later, Japan joined the Berlin-Rome axis, forming the Tripartite Pact. On November 3, Secretary of State Cordell Hull warned that “Japan may go all-out in a do-or-die effort” as the United States continued to cut their resources off. On November 20, the United States created the Modus vivendi – it would give Tokyo six months to cool down, withdraw its troops from surrounding countries, and the United States would begin to trade with Japan once again. For some reason, the Modus vivendi was never presented to Tokyo – no one knows whose fault it was or if it would have done any good.

At the end of November, President Roosevelt said “We are likely to be attacked perhaps as soon as next Monday because the Japanese are notorious for attacking without warning. The question is how to maneuver them into firing the first shot without too much danger to ourselves.” Roosevelt and his cabinet knew that Japan was going to attack, but they had no idea when or where – it could be Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Dutch East Indies, or the Philippines. They also knew if Japan attacked them, then the public would support entry into the war. On November 26, Hull met with Nomura and Kurusu and gave them an ultimatum (Hull Note) demanding that Japan leave China and the Tripartite Pact. By then, the strike force that was heading to Pearl Harbor had already shipped out. On December 1, Japan wanted war with the United States. Since 1940, Japanese Marshal Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had been planning the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the past year, the Japanese had been participating in mock attacks in Japan’s Kagoshima Bay.

Though the United States knew the Japanese were going to attack, the army assumed the Navy was conducting distant reconnaissance off the islands while the Navy thought the Army was manning Oahu’s early-warning radar. Early morning on December 7, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The attack lasted two hours, killing 2,403 servicemen (1,103 were killed on battleship Arizona, which sank after a bomb exploded) and about 68 civilians were killed. Roosevelt learned at 1:40 (45 minutes after the first wave of attack) of the attack of Pearl Harbor. Great Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill later wrote “To have the United States on our side was to me the greatest joy… To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! …Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.” Roosevelt met his cabinet at 8:30 that night – “This is the most serious meeting of the Cabinet that has taken place since 1861” he said. It was also the same Oval Study where President Lincoln and his cabinet met after the attack of Fort Sumter. The next day Roosevelt met with the joint-session of congress, giving his Infamy Speech “Yesterday, December

English: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt d...

English: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers his “Day of Infamy” speech  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Within an hour, the Senate and Congress voted and agreed – the United States was at war.

Smith, Jean. FDR. New York: Random House, 2007. 506-538. Print.