After the Day of Infamy: “Man-on-the-Street” Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Historical Research Capabilities: Researching People Criticized by Interviewees
Several of the interviews in the collection reflect hostility to John L. Lewis, President of the United Mine Workers. Mrs. Porter Lucas addressing the president from Missouri in early 1942 questioned the power of John L. Lewis.
"I cannot understand is why John L. Lewis has set up such a dictatorship in this, a democracy. I cannot understand how any one man can attain such power in a righteous manner. Those things are not democratic. They are not patriotic. And they are not what we have been taught to be true Americanism."
In like manner, Robert Lucas, a teen-ager, echoed Mrs. Lucas's view.
"And John L. Lewis, as I would like to state, is like Hitler only in the labor. He seems to be a domineering person. Undoubtedly this is true. I do hope that when we ask our boys to work for twenty-one dollars a month that labor would do their part and they strike unless they get so much an hour. Our boys work harder than some of the laborers and yet get much less. They don't get any glory and they can't strike [bell rings] so please help the laborers to overthrow this yoke and please let them be free and so they can aid us too."
Another American criticized by those interviewed was Jeannette Rankin, a member of Congress from Montana. A Madison, Wisconsin, woman alluded to Ms. Rankin without mentioning her name:
"I believe that American womanhood, as a whole, feels ashamed and humiliated that our one woman representative in Congress kept the vote to declare war form being unanimous."
Another woman from Madison said
"I certainly was burned up when Miss Rankin gave all her male colleagues an opportunity to say "just like a woman." Because there's a lot of us who haven't had sheltered lives. We've been out and met life in a hard way and we are resolute and military as our British sisters."
Research John L. Lewis, Jeannette Rankin, or another American criticized in the interviews. What did you learn that helps you understand the criticism? Do you think the criticism was justified? Why or why not?