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This Day in Georgia History

December 07, 1941

Georgians Responded to Pearl Harbor Bombing

Japan launched a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. In reaction to the bombing, all Japanese nationals living in Georgia were ordered to stay in their homes. In Atlanta, guards were doubled at the municipal waterworks and defense manufacturing plants. Maj. Gen. John P. Smith, commander of the U.S. Army’s Fourth Corps Area (which included Georgia), issued the following warning, that “all manufacturers and industrialists in states of the Fourth Corps Area take every precaution against sabotage in their establishments.” Atlanta Mayor Roy LeCraw, who was inactive as a Lt. Col. in the National Guard while he held office, officially requested that he be placed on active duty. Georgia’s congressional delegation also had strong reactions. U.S. Sen. Walter F. George stated: “Japan’s deed is an act of desperation by a war-mad people. The attack on Hawaii is a deliberate act of the Japanese government. I am utterly amazed. It is unthinkable… . An open declaration of war will give us greater freedom of action.” Noting the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, George optimistically predicted that “it may take two or three years to fight this war to the end.” U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell responded to the attack by stating: “Japan has committed national hari-kari. I cannot conceive of any member of Congress voting against a declaration of war in view of the unpardonable, unprovoked attack on us. I am utterly astounded.” U.S. Rep. Carl Vinson, chairman of the House Naval Affairs Committee, added: “Of course we will have to declare war. There is nothing else for Congress to do. This is a concerted action by the Axis Powers, but I am confident our Navy is ready and will render a glorious account of itself. It probably means we will be drawn into the world conflict on both oceans.” Vinson turned out to be right on both counts.