Mobilizing the People
"Whenever I hear anyone saying, 'The American people are complacent'...I feel like asking him to come to Washington to read the mail that floods into the White House...The one question that recurs through all of these thousands of letters and messages is, 'What more can I do to help my country in winning this war?'"
- Franklin Roosevelt, Fireside Chat, April 28, 1942
War mobilization touched nearly every aspect of American life. Under FDR's direction, the government assumed unprecedented powers over the economy. Wage and price controls helped contain wartime inflation. The government encouraged the growth of labor unions, but seized factories and mines when union unrest threatened war production. To conserve scarce goods needed for defense, government agencies rationed products ranging from gasoline to sugar. Civilians drove less, ate less meat, and drank less coffee.
The war effort also relied on voluntarism. Children organized scrap drives to salvage rubber and metal for war industries. Their parents joined civil defense units, planted Victory Gardens, and purchased war bonds. Government propaganda reminded people to report suspicious activity, and Americans joined the Red Cross, the USO, and other service organizations. Eleanor Roosevelt helped spur these efforts, using her radio and public appearances to encourage voluntarism.
Production for Victory
During his far-flung wartime inspection tours, the President often received models and other gifts from workers and staff in defense factories and military facilities. Volunteers involved in the war effort also presented him with commemorative items.