How Did Pearl Harbor Changed American History?

On December 7, 1941, the United States suffered a devastating surprise attack on its naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack was carried out by the Imperial Japanese Navy and resulted in the deaths of over 2,400 Americans and the destruction of numerous ships and aircraft. The attack on Pearl Harbor changed American history in several significant ways.

Impact on World War II

The attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II. Prior to the attack, America had been following a policy of isolationism, staying out of the war that had been raging in Europe since 1939.

However, after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the Axis powers of Germany and Italy. The United States then became fully involved in World War II and played a major role in securing victory for the Allies.

Impact on American Society

The attack on Pearl Harbor also had a significant impact on American society. It created a sense of national unity and patriotism as Americans rallied behind their country during wartime. The government implemented various measures to support the war effort such as rationing food and supplies, enlisting men for military service, and encouraging women to take jobs in factories to produce war materials.

Japanese Internment

However, one dark aspect of this unity was that it led to discrimination against Japanese-Americans living in the United States. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, many Americans harbored anti-Japanese sentiments which led to President Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 which authorized the internment of over 120,000 Japanese-Americans living along the West Coast. The internment camps were crowded and unsanitary with families living in small shacks or barracks surrounded by barbed wire fences.

Impact on International Relations

The attack on Pearl Harbor also had a lasting impact on international relations. It marked the end of the United States’ isolationist policy and signaled its emergence as a global superpower. The United States became deeply involved in world affairs and played a leading role in the formation of international organizations such as the United Nations and NATO.


In conclusion, the attack on Pearl Harbor was a pivotal moment in American history. It brought the United States into World War II, created a sense of national unity, led to discrimination against Japanese-Americans, and marked the emergence of America as a global superpower. The lessons learned from this tragedy continue to shape American foreign policy and society today.