Manchester College Divisions in War History Essay


reading the chapter 4 and chapter 5 and write the ideas of it Write the thoughts after u reading, only chapter 4 and 5… need 1000 words.

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form other office chores could look forward to early promotion. I rushed down to the recruitment office and volunteered
my services to relieve the navy of its distress. 2
—-•o ►,,…..—
“greatest generation,” the age
group that fought “the good war.” 1 When the United States
entered the Second World War, John Hope Franklin was twenty-six
years old. Robert Byrd was twenty-four. Franklin, who had just earned
his doctorate in history at Harvard University, was starting to teach in
Raleigh, North Carolina, at St. Augustine’s College, a historically black
institution. Byrd, who is currently the senior US. senator from West
Virginia, was beginning to work as a welder building ships in a con
struction yard in Baltimore, Maryland.
Neither served in the military. Franklin sought to enlist. Nearly a
half century after Pearl Harbor, at the close of a distinguished career
that culminated at the University of Chicago and Duke University, he
recalled his effort to join up:
How best to serve became the question uppermost in my mind.
The question appeared to have been answered by the United
States Navy, which ran a full-page advertisement in the local
newspaper. There was a shortage of personnel to handle the
crush of paperwork, the navy stated; and men who could type,
take shorthand, operate simple business machines, and per-
I h e offer was not accepted. “The recruiter looked at me with what
.1ppeared to be a combination of incredulity and distress … . He simply
,aid I was lacking in one qualification and that was color.” After further
nasty experiences, including the refusal of a doctor at a Tulsa induction
1 enter to draw his blood, Franklin successfully avoided the draft for the
remainder of the war, having concluded that “the United States, howt’ver much it was devoted to protecting the freedoms and rights of
Europeans, had no respect for me, no interest in my well-being, and not
even a desire to utilize my services.”3
Byrd, who was born in North Carolina and who, two years later,
would be elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates, wrote a letter of concern about black demands for racial integration in the military to Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, the Senate’s most outspoken
racist, in December 1944. “I am a typical American, a southerner, and
27 years of age,” Byrd noted,
and never in the world will I be convinced that race mixing in
any field is good. All the social “do-gooders,” the philanthropic
“greats” of this day, the reds and the pinks … the disciples of
Eleanor … can never alter my convictions on this question. I
am loyal to my country and know but reverence to her flag, BUT
I shall never submit to fight beneath that banner with a negro
by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see this
old glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see
this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a
throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.4
Within four years, Byrd’s nightmare had become national policy.
On July 26, 1948, President Harry Truman signed Executive Order
9981, a critical steppingstone on the pathway to racial equality in the
military. Writing as commander in chief, he declared “the policy oft h,
President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for
all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion
or national origin.”5 By the time the Korean War had ended, all th,·
branches of service were integrated by race, though some all-black
infantry regiments remained. 6 By 1956, integration was compleH·
Today, the military is the country’s major institution least marked by
racial separation.
“First your Country; then your rights,” W E. B. Du Bois responded
1, 1 critics of his famous “Close Ranks” editorial ofJuly 1918 in The Crisis,
1lir NAACP monthly; where he had implored his readers to “forget our
prcial grievances and close our ranks.”7 From one perspective, there
w.1~ little choice. Of course, a war on behalf of imperial and racist pown, fought by a rigidly segregated army hardly struck most African
rnericans as a battle of good against evil. Still, blacks had little option
hut to answer the question of political obligation with loyalty. Within
1he country’s charged racial climate, with its incompatible ethnic allegiances and atmosphere of intolerance, any visible black dissent
rnurted danger. Aware that it would be difficult for a downtrodden
1,tcial minority to consider a war between white colonial nations a bat1le for democracy; federal intelligence agents watched leading African
Americans during the late 1910s and kept a close eye on the black press.
!’his anxious wartime surveillance often interpreted black skepticism
and questioning that stopped well short of opposition, let alone disloyalty; as subversion. 8
Once the United States joined the war, many blacks, including Du
Bois, sought to achieve civic gains as a corollary to their steadfastness.
Seeking to turn ambivalence to instrumental advantage, he offered a
historical argument. The history of race relations in the United States,
Du Bois claimed, demonstrated a republican principle at work. In
peacetime, black oppression remained unshaken. By contrast, when
blacks suited up as soldiers to join white citizens in a common national
project, they actually had gained some rights. It was, he wrote, their
surest instrument for advancement:
Such, of course, was not the case before, during, and just after the
Second World War. The Roosevelt administration and its militarv
leaders navigated between black aspirations, like those of Franklin,
and white resistance, like that of Byrd. Seeking to forge an effectiw
fighting force, maintain order, and build support in the public and in
Congress for its policies, the administration combined mass black par
ticipation in the armed services and access to formerly restricted offi
cer positions and leadership roles with an unyielding commitment to
racial segregation. Linked in a common military project, the United
States, in effect, had two armies-one white, one black. Not entirely
separate, they were utterly unequal.
THE SECOND WORLD WAR was the last major conflict in which the mili
tary policies of the United States accommodated undisguised racism.
Though the armed services lessened its force as the war progressed, the
racial course of action it still pursued was much closer to the Jim-Crow
policies of the First World War than to the mostly desegregated practices
in the Korean War. When Woodrow Wilson took the country into
Europe in 1917, the country’s racial order seemed beyond question.
Ironically, the massive expansion of the armed services compelled blacks
to declare their loyalty at a moment when any hint of heresy was met with
repression. But the chance to join the national crusade also seemed to
offer African Americans an opening to claim their standing as citizens.
Five thousand Negroes fought in the Revolution: the result was
the emancipation of slaves in the North and the abolition of
the African slave trade. At least three thousand Negro soldiers
and sailors fought in the war of 1812; the result was the enfranchisement of the Negro in many Northern states and the
beginning of a strong movement for general emancipation. Two
· hundred thousand Negroes enlisted in the Civil War, and the
result was the emancipation of four million slaves, and the
enfranchisement of the black man. Some ten thousand
Negroes fought in the Spanish-American war, and in the
twenty years since that war, despite many setbacks, we have
doubled or quadrupled our accumulated wealth.9
wc·re sent to France, where the 92nd fought alongside three white divi1nns of the Second Army in attacking the second Hindenburg line. 12
At the time, the press was full of reports of black heroism; yet after
1lit· war, a disproportionately southern white officer class reported
I1l.1 ck performance as having been deficient. At the conclusion of hos1di ties, the most racially progressive view in the Army sought to stop
111,1ssing black troops separately, arguing instead that black units
l11•tween the size of a company and a regiment should be placed within
white regiments.’3 More typical, however, was the mixture of racism
.111cl realism found in Major General Robert Bullard’s 1925 memoirs
The aftermath of the First World War made Du Bois far more cau
tious as the Second approached. The world had not been made safe for
democracy, certainly not for people of color. The leading Allies of th«
United States, Britain and France, had tightened their grip on tht·i1
increasingly restive colonial possessions. Racism at home grew mon
entrenched. In 1919, President Wilson expressed concern after the war
that the reasonable conduct black soldiers had experienced in Europ< "has gone to their heads." Earlier, in August 1918, General Pershing headquarters had issued a request to French officers "not to commend too highly the black American troops in the presence of whi11• Americans." 10 At Versailles, Wilson joined with Britain and Australia 111 repel the proposal by Japan that the Charter of the League of Natiom should include a commitment to the equality of all people regardless of race. There were "too serious objections on the part of some of us ." During the war, the very moderate black leader, Emmett Scott, who had worked as Booker T Washington's private secretary and served in the Wilson administration as the Negro Adviser to the secretary of wa1, was appalled to discover how an entrenched belief in black inferiority sharply curtailed black training and opportunities." When the United States went to war, Du Bois was convinced that active black participation might make the armed forces a vehicle Ii 11 equal citizenship. He was grievously disappointed. Although thn«· were just over 1,500 black junior officers, the 404,000 black troops n percent of the Army's total strength-were commanded by whi11 officers in all the senior ranks. Most blacks were slotted into lal>rn
duties, nearly all menial. Still, blacks were not entirely confined lo
quartermaster and stevedore service roles; some forty thousand wt’11
dispatched to combat units. Their 92nd and 93rd infantry division
11•fl ecting on his command of the Se~ond Army. “If you need combat
,nldiers, and especially if you need them in a hurry, don’t put your time
11pon Negroes,” he cautioned, because “if there are any white people
rH·ar … the task of making soldiers of them and fighting with them …
will be swamped in the race question.”‘4 No one inside the armed
forces suggested an end to military Jim Crow.
As the 1920s got underway, blacks were confronted with nearhysterical racism, the acceleration of lynching, the revival of the Klan,
,tnd more than twenty major riotous assaults by whites in northern and
border cities who rampaged in black neighborhoods, stoned blacks on
beaches, and attacked them on main thoroughfares and public transportation. A broader climate of nativism dominated. Public discourse
1ook an ugly turn. “Think of submitting questions involving the very
life of the United States to a tribunal on which a nigger from Liberia, a
nigger from Honduras, a nigger from India … each have votes equal to
1hat of the great United States,” Senator James Reed of Missouri
remarked about the League. Such talk went unrebuked.’5
Not surprisingly, disenchantment characterized the mood of black
imerica both at the start of the New Deal and, later, at the end of the
1930s and into the early 1940s when a world war loomed again. In 1934,
1he dean of Howard University’s Law School, Charles Houston, remon~trated to the Army’s chief of staff, General Douglas MacArthur, about
the military’s failure to incorporate black soldiers in the air, field
,1rtiliery, and tank corps. 16 After MacArthur replied that “I can assure
you … there has been and will be no discrimination against the colon·d
race in the training of the national forces,” Houston responded with
1ppalled by racist depictions of the Japanese and by the manifest doul1lt standard of Western imperial powers fighting for democracy.
catalogue of specific complaints. They included the observation that
1 .1111lrasting
the West’s fierce response to the Soviet Union’s incursion
“colored army officers … seem to get shunted away from regimcntl
111 Finland with the moderate reaction that had been displayed to the
into detached service just as soon as they rank high enough to have sen
iority and control over any number of white officers” and that bla(·k
i •> l’i
invasion of Ethiopia by Italy and to the long history of colonialism,
I >11 Bois tartly observed that “the world is astonished, aghast, and
regiments functioned not as fighting forces but as “labor battalions.”
111µ,ry! But why? … England has been seizing land all over the earth for
He also noted that the Machine Gun Troops in the Colored Cavalry
1nnuries with and without a shadow of rightful claim: India, South
frica, Uganda, Egypt, Nigeria, not to mention Ireland. The United
Detachment lacked “machine gun equipment, drills very little, and
does not take part in maneuvers except in the capacity of orderlies,”
and that black soldiers were not offered access to vacancies in “newer
arms of the service.” He concluded: “When I note the complct
absence of colored men in the Tank Corps, in the Coast Artillery, in th
Field Artillery, in the Air Corps, in the Chemical Warfare Service and
other newer arms, I must confess your assurances leave me skeptical.” 1
He was not alone. Seven years later, on the eve of American partici
pation in the Second World War, Walter White, the executive secretary
‘-,1 ates
seized Mexico from a weak and helpless natiop in order to bol-
slavery. … This is the world that has grown suddenly righteous in
1ldcnse of Finland.” 21 Why, he asked, should not he and other African
·,1 l’ r
mericans believe that the war, at least in part, was a campaign to
, lt”cpen white control? After Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill
,1gned the Atlantic Charter in August 1940, a document full of regard
self-government and sovereign rights, Du Bois remarked that this
of the NAACP, made fighting dictators abroad conditional upon fight
drive for freedom was unlikely to include Nigeria, Zululand, Natal, the

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1000 words


Divisions in War

White Veterans

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