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Gallup Vault: A Country Unified After Pearl Harbor
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: A Country Unified After Pearl Harbor

Seventy-five years ago, in a Gallup poll conducted days after Japan's infamous attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, 97% of Americans said they approved of Congress formally declaring war on Japan. Just 2% disapproved.

Americans' Reaction to U.S. Declaration of War After Pearl Harbor
Do you approve, or disapprove of Congress declaring war against Japan?
  Dec. 12-17, 1941
Approve 97
Disapprove 2
No opinion 2

The same poll found a bare majority of U.S. adults, 51%, predicting the war against Japan would be a long one while 36% thought it would be short and the rest unsure. Most Americans -- 65% -- foresaw that it would be difficult. A quarter thought it would be easy and 9% were unsure.

Even before the Pearl Harbor reaction poll was finished, George Gallup noted in a special Dec. 12, 1941, news release that "although the particular time and place of the outbreak of hostilities came as a surprise, war with Japan was not unexpected by the public." In late November, 52% of Americans had told Gallup pollsters the U.S. would be at war with Japan "sometime in the near future."

Gallup also gave the American public credit for taking a "realistic attitude on Japanese-American relations," saying "the public has consistently during the past two years favored stronger measures against Japan than any put into effect previous to the summer of 1941." He noted:

Ever since July of this year, a majority of voters have been in favor of taking definite steps to curb Japanese expansion even if it meant risking war. This sentiment increased sharply when the Japanese invaded Indo-China in July. From this moment Institute surveys found two-thirds or more of the American people willing to take the risk of war in order to top Japan from becoming more powerful.

Still, in the immediate post-Pearl Harbor poll, 84% of Americans agreed with the proposition that President Franklin D. Roosevelt "did everything he should have to prevent war with Japan."

Read Gallup's original review of public opinion in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

Read more from the Gallup Vault.

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