Leading on the Home Front
To fight a global war, America needed to mobilize its entire population on the "Home Front." This enormous effort touched almost every aspect of life and unleashed economic forces that reverberated for generations.
Under FDR's direction, government assumed unprecedented economic powers. Defense spending skyrocketed. Millions of Americans paid Federal income taxes for the first time. To control inflation, the government put limits on wages, prices, and rents. And to conserve scarce goods, it rationed products ranging from gasoline to sugar.
As the war effort heated up, FDR signaled that further New Deal reforms would be postponed. "Dr. New Deal," he explained, was now "Dr. Win-the-War." Eleanor Roosevelt objected to this decision, but the war itself soon brought new possibilities for reform. Booming war industries generated millions of jobs. This created unprecedented opportunities for women, African Americans and other minorities - and fostered demands for greater social and economic opportunity.