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Civil Rights, World War II, and U.S. Public Opinion

  • Steven White (a1)
Abstract

Scholars of American politics often assume World War II liberalized white racial attitudes. This conjecture is generally premised on the existence of an ideological tension between a war against Nazism and the maintenance of white supremacy at home, particularly the Southern system of Jim Crow. A possible relationship between the war and civil rights was also suggested by a range of contemporaneous voices, including academics like Gunnar Myrdal and activists like Walter White and A. Philip Randolph. However, while intuitively plausible, this relationship is generally not well verified empirically. A common flaw is the lack of attention to public opinion polls from the 1940s. Using the best available survey evidence, I argue the war's impact on white racial attitudes is more limited than is often claimed. First, I demonstrate that for whites in the mass public, while there is some evidence of liberalization on issues of racial prejudice, this generally does not extend to policies addressing racial inequities. White opposition to federal anti-lynching legislation actually seems to have increased during the war. Second, there is some evidence of racial moderation among white veterans, relative to their counterparts who did not serve. White veterans were more supportive of anti-lynching legislation in the immediate postwar period, and they offered stronger support for black voting rights in the early 1960s. However, they were not distinguishable on many other issues, including measures of racial prejudice and attitudes toward segregation.

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References
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1. McCulloch, Margaret C., “What Should the American Negro Reasonably Expect as the Outcome of a Real Peace?,” Journal of Negro Education 12, no. 3 (1943): 565 .

2. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944); Charles Wallace Collins, Whither Solid South? A Study in Politics and Race Relations (New Orleans: Pelican, 1947); Odum, Howard W., “Social Change in the South,” Journal of Politics 10, no. 2 (1948): 242–58.

3. Philip A. Klinkner and Rogers M. Smith, The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999); Daniel Kryder, Divided Arsenal: Race and the American State during World War II (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Robert P. Saldin, War, the American State, and Politics since 1898 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

4. Alfred H. Kelly, “The School Desegregation Case,” in Quarrels That Have Shaped the Constitution (rev. ed.), ed. John A. Garraty (New York: Harper & Row, 1987).

5. Of course, “the war” itself did not directly impact civil rights politics. Rather, various actors used the opportunities presented by wartime to make new rhetorical claims and policy demands in the context of war. For a general discussion of the nature of “wartime,” see Mary L. Dudziak, War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

6. Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March; Kryder, Divided Arsenal; Saldin, War, the American State, and Politics.

7. Christopher S. Parker, Fighting for Democracy: Black Veterans and the Struggle against White Supremacy in the Postwar South (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009); Parker, Christopher S., “When Politics Becomes Protest: Black Veterans and Political Activism in the Postwar South,” Journal of Politics 71 (2009): 113–31.

8. For example, Adam Berinsky argues wartime attitudes largely reflect peacetime patterns, suggesting an event like World War II should not necessarily drive white racial attitudes; see Adam J. Berinksy, In Time of War: Understanding American Public Opinion from World War II to Iraq (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). Paul Kellstedt's analysis of white racial attitude change in the 1950s and 1960s similarly suggests change is slower and more structural; see Paul Kellstedt, The Mass Media and the Dynamics of American Racial Attitudes (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

9. Myrdal, An American Dilemma, 1004.

10. Ibid., 426.

11. Ibid., 997.

12. Alan Brinkley, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Vintage, 1995), 168–69.

13. Ibid., 169–70. For contemporaneous criticism, see, e.g., Crespi, Leo P., “Is Gunnar Myrdal on the Right Track?Public Opinion Quarterly 9, no. 2 (1945): 201–12. Ralph Ellison also penned a notable critique that the Antioch Review declined to publish at the time. Fortunately, this was later published in a collected volume of Ellison's writing. See Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York: Vintage, 1995), 303–17.

14. Joseph Lowndes, From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 11. The Collins quote can be found in ibid., 22.

15. Walter White, A Rising Wind (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, 1945), 124–25.

16. Ibid., 15.

17. Ibid., 36–37.

18. For a more general discussion of rumors on the home front, see Howard W. Odum, Race and Rumors of Race: Challenge to American Crisis (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943). See also James T. Sparrow, Warfare State: World War II Americans and the Age of Big Government (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 95–100.

19. White, A Rising Wind, 63.

20. Charles S. Johnson and Associates, To Stem This Tide: A Survey of Racial Tension Areas in the United States (New York: AMS Press, 1943), 38.

21. Odum, “Social Change in the South,” 244.

22. Walter White to War Department, memorandum, April 22, 1944, OF 93 in Franklin D. Roosevelt President's Official Files, 1933–1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY.

23. Dalfiume, Richard M., “The ‘Forgotten Years’ of the Negro Revolution,” Journal of American History 55, no. 1 (1968): 90106 .

24. Daniel, Pete, “Going among Strangers: Southern Reactions to World War II,” Journal of American History 77, no. 3 (1990): 910 .

25. Kevin M. Kruse and Stephen Tuck, “Introduction: The Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement,” in Fog of War: The Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement, ed. Kevin M. Kruse and Stephen Tuck (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 11–12. For a collection of essays on the role of World War II on the South more generally, see Neil R. McMillen, ed., Remaking Dixie: The Impact of World War II on the American South (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997).

26. Klinkner and Smith do refer to topline results from secondary sources. See, e.g., their reference to an Office of War Information civilian survey and a survey of white officers and noncommissioned officers described in Morris J. MacGregor and Bernard C. Nalty, Black Soldiers in World War II, vol. 5, Blacks in the United States Armed Forces: Basic Documents (Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, 1977). Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March, 180, 190. They also note topline results from Roper and NORC surveys. See ibid., 201. However, these surveys are cited as secondary sources, rather than subject to original analysis using proper weighting techniques.

27. Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March, 137.

28. Ibid., 160.

29. Ibid., 168.

30. Ibid., 199.

31. Saldin, War, the American State, and Politics, 114–15.

32. Saldin's discussion of white attitudes is actually quite nuanced. He argues the war “influenced both mass opinion (at least that of the soldiers) and elite opinion,” but that the latter was more important (ibid., 115). He also notes Klinkner and Smith's discussion of shifts in popular culture, which is a shift not discussed in this article. Kryder, likewise, makes assumptions about the white public, albeit somewhat more negatively than Klinkner and Smith. Kryder suggests Americans were “less familiar with the aims of the war and their relationship to democratic ideals than Myrdal believed.” See Kryder, Divided Arsenal, 10.

33. Michael J. Klarman, “The White Primary Rulings: A Case Study in the Consequences of Supreme Court Decisionmaking,” Florida State University Law Review 29 (2001): 64. Klarman's discussion of how increases in southern legal challenges were partly a result of “the greater black militancy spawned by World War II” is more convincing (ibid., 76). Such a claim fits with Parker, Fighting for Democracy.

34. Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March, 193.

35. To be fair, it is of course possible that the war had an effect on the justices, but that they would not have written about it directly. In this sense, I would hesitate to argue that there was definitively no effect of the war on this or other cases. However, at the very least, such an effect is not demonstrable with the available evidence. For an analysis of the aftermath of Smith v. Allwright, see Mickey, Robert W., “The Beginning of the End for Authoritarian Rule in America: Smith v. Allwright and the Abolition of the White Primary in the Deep South, 1944–1948,” Studies in American Political Development 22 (2008): 143–82.

36. Parker, Fighting for Democracy. For an earlier, more qualitative analysis of how southern black veterans thought about their service, see Neil R. McMillen, “Fighting for What We Didn't Have: How Mississippi's Black Veterans Remember World War II,” in Remaking Dixie: The Impact of World War II on the American South, ed. Neil R. McMillen (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997), 93–110.

37. Parker, Fighting for Democracy, 95.

38. Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights (New York: Knopf, 2006), 19, 20, 25.

39. Jennifer E. Brooks, Defining the Peace: World War II Veterans, Race, and the Remaking of Southern Political Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 36.

40. Of course, the realities of political-economic change on the home front could have shaped white attitudes as well, and I consider this at various points throughout. I also return to a broader discussion of political-economic changes in the conclusion.

41. For the former, see Edward G. Carmines and James A. Stimson, Issue Evolution: Race and the Transformation of American Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989); John R. Zaller, The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992). For a discussion of the latter, see Taeku Lee, Mobilizing Public Opinion: Black Insurgency and Racial Attitudes in the Civil Rights Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

42. For historical accounts of how children were socialized in the Jim Crow South, see Jennifer Ritterhouse, Growing Up Jim Crow: How Black and White Southern Children Learned Race (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); and Kristina DuRocher, Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2011). Ritterhouse describes the etiquette of race relations—etiquette, she notes, inherently “involves at least some coercion”—learned by children in the Jim Crow South, while DuRocher points to an emphasis on violence (e.g., young white children attending lynchings). For a discussion of the role of generational replacement in trends in racial attitudes, see Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, Lawrence Bobo, and Maria Krysan, Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations, rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).

43. Schuman et al., Racial Attitudes in America, 27–28.

44. Benjamin I. Page and Robert Y. Shapiro, The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans' Policy Preferences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 76. It should be noted that even in the 1960s, attitudinal shifts were gradual. For a visualization of trends over time in racial attitudes over many decades, see ibid., 70–78.

45. Page and Shapiro, The Rational Public, 77. See also Winter, James P. and Eyal, Chaim H., “Agenda Setting for the Civil Rights Issue,” Public Opinion Quarterly 45, no. 3(1981): 376–83. They argue the place of civil rights on the public agenda correlates with coverage of civil rights on the front page of the New York Times in the period 1954–1976.

46. Kellstedt, The Mass Media, 31–37.

47. Ibid., 5.

48. This is, of course, quite the opposite of black newspapers, which regularly highlighted the tensions between a war for democracy and racism on the home front. Whites, however, were not attuned to this coverage. For a discussion of black newspapers and protest movements generally, see O'Kelly, Charlotte G., “Black Newspapers and the Black Protest Movement: Their Historical Relationship, 1827–1945,” Phylon 43, no. 1 (1982): 114 .

49. Parker, Fighting for Democracy, 72–73. See also Schuman, Howard and Scott, Jacqueline, “Generations and Collective Memories,” American Sociological Review 54, no. 3 (1989): 359–81. For a more general discussion of the impressionable years hypothesis, see Duane F. Alwin, Ronald L. Cohen, and Theodore M. Newcomb, Political Attitudes over the Life Span: The Bennington Women after Fifty Years (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991); Alwin, Duane F. and Krosnick, Jon A., “Aging, Cohorts, and the Stability of Sociopolitical Orientations over the Life Span,” American Journal of Sociology 97, no. 1 (1991): 169–95.

50. Parker, Fighting for Democracy, 61. He relates this directly to Foner's discussion of black military service in the Civil War and its effects on political behavior during Reconstruction. See Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution (New York: Harper and Row, 1988).

51. Parker, Fighting for Democracy, 72.

52. Ibid., 95.

53. For a discussion of the Double-V campaign, see Sitkoff, Harvard, “Racial Militancy and Interracial Violence in the Second World War,” Journal of American History 58, no. 3 (1971): 668–81; Neil A. Wynn, The Afro-American and the Second World War, rev. ed. (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1993); Jonathan Rosenberg, How Far the Promised Land? World Affairs and the American Civil Rights Movement from the First World War to Vietnam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).

54. Cited in Hohn, Maria, “‘We Will Never Go Back to the Old Way Again’: Germany in the African-American Debate on Civil Rights,” Central European History 41 (2008): 616 .

55. Kelly, “The School Desegregation Case,” 312.

56. Graves, John Temple, “The Southern Negro and the War Crisis,” Virginia Quarterly Review 18, no. 4 (1942): 501 .

57. Ibid., 514.

58. For an account of how white journalists began covering civil rights to a much greater extent during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s, see Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (New York: Knopf, 2006).

59. Sokol, There Goes My Everything, 20, 23.

60. These data sets were obtained from the iPoll Databank, Roper Center, Cornell University, http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/ipoll-database/.

61. These represent the primary civil rights policy issues of the 1930s and early 1940s. For an analysis of legislative action on these and other civil rights issues of the era, see Jenkins, Jeffrey A. and Peck, Justin, “Building Toward Major Policy Change: Congressional Action on Civil Rights, 1941–1950,” Law and History Review 31, no. 1 (2013): 139–98. See also Schickler, Eric, Pearson, Kathryn, and Feinstein, Brian D., “Congressional Parties and Civil Rights Politics from 1933 to 1972,” Journal of Politics 72, no. 3 (2010): 672–89. For an analysis of congressional action in the lead-up to the World War II era, see Jenkins, Jeffrey A., Peck, Justin, and Weaver, Vesla M., “Between Reconstructions: Congressional Action on Civil Rights, 1891–1940,” Studies in American Political Development 24, no. 1 (2010): 5789 . One limitation to these policy questions is that they are sectional in nature, primarily referencing racial politics in the southern states. After presenting the results, I return to this issue in the discussion. Readers might also expect discussion of the proposed Soldier Voting Act, as it relates directly to the connection between the war and the claims of civil rights groups. A question about giving black soldiers ballots as part of the congressional soldier voting debate was indeed asked in 1944. However, this question was never repeated, so it is not possible to assess over time change.

62. Berinsky, Adam J., “American Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s: The Analysis of Quota-Controlled Sample Survey Data,” Public Opinion Quarterly 70, no. 4 (2006): 499529 . For more detailed instructions, see Berinsky and Schickler's supplementary files on the iPoll website (http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/ipoll-database/).

63. Expectations for effect size can be thought of in two ways. First, it is interesting to see if any change at all occurred. This would be a rudimentary test of the racial liberalization hypothesis. If no change at all occurs, at least on certain measures that is a useful rebuttal in itself. However, if there is a shift on some measures, how big should the shift be? On the one hand, even during the civil rights era of the 1960s, Kellstedt points out that shifts were gradual. On the other hand, looking at white attitudes in the World War II era means starting at a lower point on the trajectory. As will be soon be described, expressed white racial prejudice in survey data is often shockingly high. This allows for the possibility of larger shifts (because the status quo is so low) especially on measures of basic prejudice.

64. This data set was obtained from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, ICPSR, http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/. See also Donald R. Matthews and James W. Prothro, Negroes and the New Southern Politics (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966).

65. This article examines relatively immediate effects of the war (with the exception of an examination of white veterans in 1961). Longer-term effects—and effects of the sort that cannot be identified with survey data—are still possible. Another open question is whether any observed effects were immediate but then decayed over time or whether effects were more permanent. Unfortunately, the questions I am able to analyze in the late 1940s were not asked in the 1960s. However, I argue that looking at the available survey evidence is still a useful analytical perspective that can provide an important empirical baseline.

66. Berinsky suggests using the weighting variables as explanatory variables in regression models. Berinsky, “American Public Opinion in the 1930s and 1940s,” 518. For more experimentally minded readers, I address concerns about posttreatment bias in the online appendix.

67. These differences are statistically significant.

68. While it was vastly beneficial for whites, empirical analysis demonstrates differential effects of the G.I. Bill on educational attainment between northern and southern black veterans, with little effect on collegiate outcomes for black veterans in the South. Turner, Sarah and Bound, John, “Closing the Gap or Widening the Divide: The Effects of the G.I. Bill and World War II on the Educational Outcomes of Black Americans,” Journal of Economic History 63, no. 1 (March 2003): 145–77. This was not entirely unexpected in the immediate aftermath of the G.I. Bill's passage. Writing for the American Council on Race Relations at the end of the war, William Caudill predicted that “the white GI will be considered first a veteran, second and incidentally a white man; the Negro GI will often be considered first a Negro, second and incidentally a veteran,” quoted in Onkst, David H., “‘First a Negro … Incidentally a Veteran’: Black World War Two Veterans and the G. I. Bill of Rights in the Deep South, 1944–1948,” Journal of Social History 31, no. 3 (1998): 533 . More generally, see the debate between Katznelson and Mettler regarding the G.I. Bill's potentially differential impact by race in Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005); Suzanne Mettler, Soldiers to Citizens: The G.I. Bill and the Making of the Greatest Generation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Katznelson, Ira and Mettler, Suzanne, “On Race and Policy History: A Dialogue about the G.I. Bill,” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 3 (2008): 519–37.

69. Studying regional variation raises the complicated question of how to define the South. Following Berinsky and Schickler, I define the South here as the eleven states of the former Confederacy plus Kentucky and Oklahoma. See, for example, Schickler, Eric, “New Deal Liberalism and Racial Liberalism in the Mass Public, 1937–1968,” Perspectives on Politics 11, no. 1 (2013): 7598 . This is slightly more expansive than the traditional 11-state definition advocated by V. O. Key and slightly less expansive than the broader definition advocated by Ira Katznelson and colleagues. For the original justification of an eleven-state South, see V. O. Key, Jr., Southern Politics in State and Nation (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006; originally published in 1949), 11. For contemporary examples following in this tradition, see Earl Black and Merle Black, Politics and Society in the South (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987); McKee, Seth C. and Springer, Melanie J., “A Tale of ‘Two Souths’: White Voting Behavior in Contemporary Southern Elections,” Social Science Quarterly 96, no. 2 (2015): 588607 ; Robert Mickey, Paths out of Dixie: The Democratization of Authoritarian Enclaves in America's Deep South, 1944–1972 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015); White, Steven, “The Heterogeneity of Southern White Distinctiveness,” American Politics Research 42, no. 4 (2014): 551–78. For a justification of a more expansive definition, see Farhang, Sean and Katznelson, Ira, “The Southern Imposition: Congress and Labor in the New Deal and Fair Deal,” Studies in American Political Development 19 (2005): 130 ; Melanie Springer, “Defining ‘the South’ (Is Not a Straightforward Matter),” (paper presented at the 2011 meeting of the State Politics and Policy Conference, Hanover, NH); Bateman, David A., Katznelson, Ira, and Lapinski, John, “ Southern Politics Revisited: On V. O. Key's ‘South in the House,’Studies in American Political Development 29, no. 2 (2015): 154–84.

70. This data set was obtained from the iPoll Databank, Roper Center, Cornell University, http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/ipoll-database/.

71. Jean Converse, Survey Research in the United States: Roots and Emergence 1890–1960 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), 312–13.

72. This data set was obtained from the iPoll Databank, Roper Center, Cornell University, http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/ipoll-database/.

73. This data set was obtained from the iPoll Databank, Roper Center, Cornell University, http://ropercenter.cornell.edu/ipoll-database/.

74. Guglielmo, Thomas A., “‘Red Cross, Double Cross’: Race and America's World War II-Era Blood Donor Service,” Journal of American History 91, no. 1 (2010): 6390 .

75. I calculated a thirty-two-category eduWhites weight for the 1943 data set. However, I was only able to calculate a twenty-four-category eduWhites weight for the 1946 data set, as I was unable to distinguish between whites who attended high school and whites who actually graduated (these two groups are thus lumped together).

76. If all extraneous responses, including “don't know,” are dropped, it does increase from 53 to 60 percent, but this likely overstates the shift.

77. Hastie, William H. and Marshall, Thurgood, “Negro Discrimination and the Need for Federal Action,” Law Guild Review 2, no. 6 (1942): 21 .

78. Katznelson, Ira, Geiger, Kim, and Kryder, Daniel, “Limiting Liberalism: The Southern Veto in Congress, 1933–1950,” Political Science Quarterly 108, no. 2 (1993): 297 .

79. Rable, George C., “The South and the Politics of Antilynching Legislation, 1920–1940,” Journal of Southern History 51 (1958): 209 .

80. For the postwar questions, this means calculating the eduWhites weight. However, the prewar surveys are more limited. Making the best of the available information, I used profWhites weights for the January 1937, November 1937, and January 1940 data sets; I used phoneBlack weights for the August 1937, October/November 1937, and December 1937 data sets. Weights for the prewar questions were previously computed by Schickler. I calculated the postwar weights myself. Differences in weights are necessitated by differences in available information in surveys from different time periods. However, it is unlikely this has a sizable effect, substantively. While the weighted figures are technically more accurate than unweighted ones, the substantive difference between them is generally small.

81. In 1947, 67 percent offered support when the question used the concluding qualifier.

82. And these prewar heights of opposition coincide with the more extreme question wording, which was dropped in the postwar period.

83. Robert L. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909–1950 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980), 6–7.

84. Ibid., 167.

85. There do not seem to be any notable shifts related to the 1948 presidential campaign. If there was a decrease in support for federal anti-lynching legislation, it likely began earlier than this. However, the potentially confounding influence of the Truman civil rights committee is more difficult to assess. All of the postwar lynching questions discussed here were fielded after the committee's report was released. The only postwar lynching question fielded before the report—albeit well after the committee's establishment—was the June 1947 question that used the “justly” modifier in its phrasing. While expressed support for anti-lynching legislation was indeed higher here, it is not possible to assess whether this is related to the Truman committee, or merely the qualifier in the question wording resulting in higher levels of support.

86. Steven F. Lawson, Black Ballots: Voting Rights in the South, 1944–1969 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 55–85.

87. Zangrando, The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching.

88. It is worth noting that white support for the FEPC was even weaker than support for anti-lynching legislation in the postwar period, so even if such measures did exist, it would be surprising had the war coincided with an increase in white support for the FEPC.

89. These limitations are addressed further in the online appendix.

90. Looking at bivariate cross-tabulations is informative here because they are nearly unanimous. Among the 58 male veterans in the 38–65 age group, 49 “agree[d] quite a bit” that African Americans should be able to vote (84 percent). Another 6 “agree[d] a little.” One respondent in this group “disagree[d] a little and one other respondent “disagree[d] quite a bit.” A final respondent offered a “don't know” response. Among men in this age group who were not veterans, 60 percent “agree[d] quite a bit,” 22 percent “agree[d] a little,” and 13 percent of these nonveterans “disagree[d] quite a bit.”

91. It is possible there is variation between the Peripheral/Rim and Deep South states. The Peripheral South can be defined as Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and the Deep South can be defined as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. This definition is used by many standard texts in southern politics, including Key, Southern Politics in State and Nation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to definitely assess such a distinction, because the number of observations in the Deep South is quite small by the conventions of survey research. The N of 142 for the black voting model, for example, can be broken down into 107 Peripheral South respondents and 35 Deep South respondents.

92. Surveys that identify veteran status and provide a nonveteran comparison group do not usually go beyond a veteran/nonveteran distinction. In particular, they do not identify where the individual served.

93. The interpretation here is not so straightforward, however. If the friend variable is used as a predictor for racial attitudes instead of the veteran variable, it is also statistically significant. If the veteran variable is used but the sample is restricted to only those with black friends, veteran status is no longer significant. However, if veteran is used, but the sample is restricted to only those without black friends, veteran status is significant, suggesting that the war had some other effect than mere contact. These initial results are available in the online appendix, but more research is merited in untangling the contact hypothesis's role here. For a recent analysis that tries to assess the causal effect of the contact hypothesis in a (contemporary) military setting, see Scott E. Carrell, Mark Hoekstra, and James E. West, “The Impact of Intergroup Contact on Racial Attitudes and Revealed Preferences” (NBER Working Paper 20940, National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, MA, 2015).

94. Kryder, Divided Arsenal. Historians of housing politics have likewise demonstrated intense anti-black sentiments among white urban residents who came into contact with growing black populations. See, for example, Arnold Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).

95. Young, non-Protestant whites in the most urban parts of the Northeast working in industries organized by the CIO would likely be prime candidates. Of course, at a certain point the limits of subgroup survey analysis will be reached, but such subgroups might be more theoretically relevant for stories of twentieth-century realignment than the subgroups I analyzed in this article.

96. Schuman et al. emphasize this sort of generational change, but they do not identify a World War II cohort, per se. Rather, they identify a “pre-civil rights cohort,” which includes individuals who reached adulthood before 1953. Schuman et al., Racial Attitudes in America, 202. See also Osborne, Danny, Sears, David O., and Valentino, Nicholas A., “The End of the Solidly Democratic South: The Impressionable-Years Hypothesis,” Political Psychology 31, no. 1 (2011): 910 .

97. Lee, Mobilizing Public Opinion.

98. This was often articulated as African Americans holding the “balance of power.” See Henry Lee Moon, The Balance of Power: The Negro Vote (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948). It also finds expression in the influential Rowe memorandum urging Truman to ignore Southern whites and emphasize the mobilization of black northern voters. “Unless there are new and real efforts (as distinguished from mere political gestures which are today thoroughly understood and strongly resented by sophisticated Negro leaders) the Negro bloc, which, certainly in Illinois and probably in New York and Ohio, hold the balance of power, will go Republican,” Rowe wrote Truman. The memorandum is available online at “Oral History Interview with James H. Rowe,” September 30, 1969 and January 15, 1970, Appendix B, Oral History Interviews, Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/rowejhap.htm#appb.

99. Louis Coleridge Kesselman, The Social Politics of FEPC: A Study in Reform Pressure Movements (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948); Herbert Garfinkel, When Negroes March: The March on Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics for FEPC (New York: Atheneum, 1973); Anthony S. Chen, The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941–1972 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009).

100. Chen, The Fifth Freedom, 33.

101. Sitkoff, “Racial Militancy and Interracial Violence,” 663; Korstad, Robert and Lichtenstein, Nelson, “Opportunities Found and Lost: Labor, Radicals, and the Early Civil Rights Movement,” Journal of American History 75, no. 3 (1988): 787 . In the words of Korstad and Lichtenstein in the source just mentioned, “the social structure of black America took on an increasingly urban, proletarian character,” in contrast to a previously “predominantly southern rural and small town population” (p. 786).

102. Baylor, Christopher A., “First to the Party: The Group Origins of the Partisan Transformation on Civil Rights,” Studies in American Political Development 27, no. 2 (2013): 121 . For further discussion of the timing of this shift in the NAACP's stance toward unions, see Bates, Beth Tompkins, “A New Crowd Challenges the Agenda of the Old Guard in the NAACP, 1933–1941,” American Historical Review 102, no. 2 (1997): 340–77.

103. Baylor, “First to the Party,” 129.

104. Feinstein, Brian and Schickler, Eric, “Platforms and Partners: The Civil Rights Realignment Reconsidered,” Studies in American Political Development 22 (2008): 56 ; Carmines and Stimson, Issue Evolution.

105. Schickler, “New Deal Liberalism.” See also Schickler, Eric and Caughey, Devin, “Public Opinion, Organized Labor, and the Limits of New Deal Liberalism,” Studies in American Political Development 25 (2011): 162189 . Korstad and Lichtenstein make a similar point, noting that “civil rights advocacy was becoming a defining characteristic of urban liberalism” at this time. Korstad and Lichtenstein, “Opportunities Found and Lost,” 800.

106. C. Edgar Brown, ed., Democracy at Work (Philadelphia: Local Democratic Political Committee of Pennsylvania, 1948), 97.

107. Jonathan Daniels to Franklin Roosevelt, memorandum, November 25, 1942, “Colored Matters (Negroes),” Box 5, OF 93, Franklin D. Roosevelt President's Official Files, 1933–1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY.

108. In comparison to civil rights advocates' Double-V campaign, Jason Morgan Ward describes how “defenders of segregation articulated their own vision of Double Victory. Championing white supremacy and demanding freedom from outside interference, Southern conservatives deemed civil rights agitation and federal encroachment to be as dangerous as an Axis invasion. The white South, like African Americans, had entered the war fighting on two fronts.” He later describes this effort as “more than an elite rhetorical strategy but less than an authentic grassroots rebellion.” Jason Morgan Ward, “‘A War for States' Rights’: The White Supremacist Vision of Double Victory,” in Fog of War: The Second World War and the Civil Rights Movement, ed. Kevin M. Kruse and Stephen Tuck (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 127, 140.

109. David McCullough, Truman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992); see also Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March, 204.

110. McCullough, Truman, 971–72.

111. Of course, not all white veterans felt this way. See Brooks, Defining the Peace. Indeed, many ardent white supremacists had served in the war and saw no tension between their service in a war against Nazism and their defense of white supremacy. Robert “Tut” Patterson, leader of the White Citizens' Councils, was a World War II veteran. James C. Cobb, The South and America since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 35.

112. Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 11, 13.

113. Carol Anderson, Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944–1955 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 5.

114. Klinkner and Smith, The Unsteady March.

115. Kryder, Divided Arsenal.

116. More broadly, this fits with calls for greater attention, especially among Americanists, to the effects of war on domestic politics. Ira Katznelson and Martin Shefter, eds., Shaped by War and Trade: International Influences on American Political Development (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002); Mayhew, David R., “Wars and American Politics,” Perspectives on Politics 3, no. 3 (2005): 473–93; Elizabeth Kier and Ronald R. Krebs, eds., In War's Wake: International Conflict and the Fate of Liberal Democracy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

117. This argument is articulated in more detail in a larger, book-length project. See also Steven White, “For Democracy and a Caste System? World War II, Race, and Democratic Inclusion in the United States” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 2014).

Thanks to Ira Katznelson, Robert Shapiro, Robert Lieberman, the editors of SAPD, and the anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback. This project has also benefited from many comments and suggestions by participants at the Columbia University American Politics workshop, the Columbia-Princeton-Yale graduate student historical working group, the annual meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association and American Political Science Association, the University of Tampere's Institutions in Context workshop, and the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship and Constitutionalism graduate workshop.

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Studies in American Political Development
  • ISSN: 0898-588X
  • EISSN: 1469-8692
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-american-political-development
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