America's Fight Over World War II, 1939 - 1941 (2013)
Pearl Harbor also shook FDR from his "Leadership Lethargy", that was the hallmark of his mostly disastrous second term in office. For the first time in over five years, FDR once again became the decisive leader that America needed during a national crisis. Charles Lindbergh gave a terse "we need to be united" radio address, and then disappeared from public view.
The Axis agreement only committed Germany and Italy to declare war on the U.S. if America attacked Japan. Hitler was strongly advised to avoid declaring war against the U.S., but despite outwardly counseling patience for the last several months, he decided that Pearl Harbor was the "incident" for which he had been waiting. In his mind, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor opened the door to address the many provocations that FDR had committed against Nazi Germany (and him) since the late-1930s.
Instead of demoralizing the U.S. as Japan envisioned, the attack on Pearl Harbor united a divided, fractious America. Pearl Harbor was like a "Reverse Earthquake", in that everything that was disjointed was put back in place. Pearl Harbor shook FDR out of his lethargy, and once again he became the indispensable leader for an America in crisis. And the economy, almost immediately, became war-oriented instead of consumer-oriented, which was the first step to unleashing our industrial might that would win the war. The nation also became far more conservative during World War II; the overall decrease in civil liberties was the cost.
Ironically, the acrimonious and divisive national debate from 1939 - 1941 (on the role the U.S. should have in the War in Europe) actually prepared America for World War II. The positives and negatives were thoroughly explored and weighed throughout the nation. The U.S. was better prepared for a war spiritually and militarily than at any other time in the nation's history.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson was stuck giving the bad news to Lindbergh, telling him that according to the President, his loyalty to his nation was still in question. Even the aviation industry avoided Lindbergh, since FDR threatened to cancel lucrative war-time contracts if Lindbergh was employed.
But Henry Ford, the Auto Magnate / Isolationist / Anti-Semite, came to Lindbergh's rescue. Lindbergh worked to improve the designs of the B-24 (Liberator) and the P-47 (Thunderbolt; pictured). Lindbergh even tested P-47's at extremely high altitudes, which saved pilots lives. Eventually allowed in other areas of aviation, Lindbergh played a major role in developing the Corsair, which was a fighter plane designed for use on aircraft carriers. Lindbergh proved his critics wrong: he stayed out of politics, and kept his mouth shut, focusing his efforts in the technology sector of aviation to help America win the war.
A week after FDR died, Lindbergh finally emerged from political isolation on 19 April, 1945. With FDR gone, Lindbergh was no longer persona non grata to the federal government. Lindbergh, at President Truman's request, served as a special advisor to the U.S. Air Force, which was created as a separate branch of the military in 1947. President Eisenhower reinstated Lindbergh in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1954, and President Kennedy, a life-long admirer of Lindbergh, made sure that he stayed in the good graces of the U.S. Government.