How did life change in Hawaii and at Pearl Harbor after the attack?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. entered World War II. Hawaii was at that time a U.S. territory, rather than a state. The day after the attack, Hawaii’s Territorial Governor, Joseph B. Poindexter, declared martial law, which suspended some civil liberties and imposed a curfew on the island to maintain security. National Guard troops were mobilized on the island to maintain order.

About one third of Hawaii's population at the time was made up of people of Japanese descent, who had been coming to the island to work on the plantations since the 1800s. In fact, there were more people of Japanese descent in Hawaii than in the mainland U.S. While Japanese and Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps on the mainland—a process that clearly violated the Constitution—very few people of Japanese descent (about 2,000 out of 157,000) were placed in internment centers in Hawaii. They were too essential to running all sectors of the economy and there were too many of them to be interned on the island.

Large numbers of military personnel came to the island and were stationed at Pearl Harbor. Commercial shipping was paused during the war, as all shipping operations were related to the military. Before the war, Hawaii's economy was mainly agricultural, and its main exports were pineapples and sugar. However, the Great Depression had hit the island hard, and the economy was in the doldrums. World War II caused a huge growth in the island's economy, as new businesses developed to meet the needs of the arriving military personnel. In addition, the construction industry boomed. 

Labor union activity was not allowed during the beginning of the war, and, under martial law, wages remained frozen. In 1943, restrictions on labor were ended, and many of the workers at the Hawaiian sugar plantations began to unionize. In fact, workers were unionized at all but one of the island's 35 plantations. However, the plantations faced a decline in the midst of an ongoing construction boom and the growth of other industries, and they never recovered after the war. Following the war, tourism became one of Hawaii's main industries, and it became a state in 1959.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

December 7, 1941, was a day that altered life in the United States. That morning, the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II. Pearl Harbor is located in Hawaii, and the military base and the territory were impacted greatly by this attack.

Immediately after the attack, people were in a mindset of war. In Hawaii, precautions had to be taken against the possibility of more attacks. At night, lights were turned out to make the island hard to see. People sealed their homes with darkening shades so no light could be seen from the air. People went to serve in the military. Martial law was established. People had to carry identification cards. Many of the Japanese people living in Hawaii were detained. Information was limited regarding military activities.

At Pearl Harbor, all the damage had to be cleaned up and removed. Planes that could still fly were moved to various locations. Defenses were established throughout the island. The base had to get back to operational mode as soon as possible. New ships and planes were built, and Pearl Harbor began to operate again much sooner than most people thought. We began to launch attacks against the Japanese.

December 7, 1941, was a date that changed our lives forever.

Further Reading: