FDR and America Enters the War

 

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> American History > FDR > Lend Lease
America Enters the War

In June 1942, the tide in the Pacific finally turned when American forces defeated the Japanese at Midway.  The Soviets continued to press for a second front in Europe.  Churchill, however, managed to convince Roosevelt that the first goal should be an attack on North Africa. The attack, known as Torch, was a success.  It was followed by a conference in North Africa between Roosevelt and Churchill at Casablanca.  At the conference British opinion held sway, and it was decided to continue the policy of attacking at the peripheral, which meant setting the next attack for Sicily.


In June 1942, the most decisive battle of the Pacific war took place and the Americans were victorious.  The  battle was the Battle of Midway, and American forces decisively defeated the Japanese and turned the tide of the Pacific war.  The United States then followed with an amphibious assault on Guadalcanal, a small island in the Solomon Chain.

On the European front, Stalin was desperately calling for a second front to relieve his forces fighting the Germans.  The British continued to oppose a direct assault on the continent, and after the British defeat at Tobruk, Churchill was successful at convincing Roosevelt of the need for an attack on North Africa.  The attack was called Torch and it was launched on November 8, 1942.  Despite some complications, the attack was a military success.

Following the successful conclusion of the military campaign, Roosevelt and Churchill decided to hold a conference in North Africa.  Roosevelt was excited as he departed for Casablanca.  He was flying to the conference - the first flight he had taken since the Democratic convention in 1932.  Roosevelt was about to become the first American president to leave the United States during war time.  He also became the first US president since Lincoln to visit an active battle front.

At the conference, Churchill successfully convinced Roosevelt to continue the peripheral policy and follow up the attack on North Africa with an attack on Sicily.  A great deal of effort was expended at the Conference to work out an agreement between the French generals, General De Gaulle and  Girauld.  Roosevelt managed to stage a photo opportunity of having them publicly shake hands.  At the press conference at the end of the meetings, Roosevelt called for the unconditional surrender of the Axis as the only means of ending the war. 

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