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December 7, 1941


Japanese Bomb Pearl Harbor, War Begins

News Stories Editorials Advertising Charlottesville: A Safe Haven

On December 8, 1941, The Daily Progress along with virtually every other newspaper in the nation, spread across its front page a huge, bold, double-deck banner headline that screamed: "War Declared By U.S.; Japs Claim Supremacy." Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, the newspapers quickly reported that the nation had officially declared war - perhaps, the most official beginning of World War II for historians. As war stories dominated the page, all of the local news was bumped to the bottom of the page and inside the newspaper, as it had not been for any event in the Depression. The war headlines on the front page read: "Chief Announces 3, 000 Casualties; British Join Fight"; "Virginia Officials Speed Defenses As War Develops"; "Thailand Yields To Japan's Pressure"; "Congress Cheers The War Message" and "Great Sea Power Over the U.S. Claimed By The Japanese". The War had effectively (albeit temporarily) eliminated virtually all other news from the pages of The Daily Progress.

The editorials in the newspaper were certainly not to be left behind in being dominated by the sudden arrival of war with the Japanese. The editorials following the Pearl Harbor bombings were obviously focused solely on the bombing; the main one on December 9 was entitled "We Are At War." In this piece, the editorialists for The Daily Progress laid out the harsh realities for the citizens of Charlottesville; the realities of the fact that the nation was at war and Charlottesville was not exempt. Without equivocation, the editorial stated, "The United States - our United States - is at war with the Japanese Empire. That is an editorial in itself. It stands to reason that every American worthy of the name will stand ready to do all in his power toward the ultimate victory of his country." Putting aside any political differences, the editorialists urged that this war was one that all Charlottesville citizens should support in the name of their nation. The editorial told the people themselves that they were also required to put aside any differences that may have had with the government and now, "We yield to no one in our complete loyalty to the United States in conflict with any outside power." Furthermore the editorial encouraged the complete "destruction" of Japan if it was deemed necessary in order to preserve American victory: a victory at all costs was the call. And for now, the editorialists said, this should be the primary concern in the front of every Charlottesville citizen, as a patriotic American.

The advertising in The Daily Progress did not yet have a chance to change significantly to a pro-war style of advertising by the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Advertising remained primarily as it had throughout the Depression and did not yet make any mention of pro-war slogans or encouragement for the fighting forces being called into action.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the idea of Charlottesville as a safe haven from the nation's ills was shattered. The war took over small towns that had been hiding from the Depression and woke them up with a sense of national emergency. For some suffering small towns around the nation this gave them the economic push that they needed, but for Charlottesville - a city who was doing just fine in the Depression - this was simply a rude wake-up call from a relatively peaceful period in its history. It survived almost carelessly through stock market crashes, bank closings, scores of New Deal legislation and many other events of the 1930's with mere bumps and bruises. But with the arrival of World War II, Charlottesville was forced to face the tough music of reality with every other city in the country.

Inside This Edition: Reporting on Key Dates in the Depression

October 29, 1929: Stock Market Crash March 4, 1933: FDR Innaugurated March 5, 1933: FDR declares 'bank holiday' March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Bill passed May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act passed December 5, 1933: Repeal of Prohibition
May 6, 1935: WPA established August 14, 1935 Social Security Act passed November 3, 1936: FDR re-elected February 3, 1937: National Guard prepared to strike workers in Flint, Michigan September 16, 1940: Selective Service Act passed December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor


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