Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1941

The order is given: Bomb Pearl Harbor

On this day in 1941, the Combine Japanese Fleet receive Top-Secret Order No. 1: In 34 days time, Pearl Harbor is to be bombed, along with Mayala, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.

Relations between the United States and Japan had been deteriorating quickly since Japan’s occupation of Indochina in 1940 and the implicit menacing of the Philippines (an American protectorate), with the occupation of the Cam Ranh naval base approximately 800 miles from Manila. American retaliation included the seizing of all Japanese assets in the States and the closing of the Panama Canal to Japanese shipping. In September 1941, Roosevelt issued a statement, drafted by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, that threatened war between the United States and Japan should the Japanese encroach any further on territory in Southeast Asia or the South Pacific.

The Japanese military had long dominated Japanese foreign affairs; although official negotiations between the U.S. secretary of state and his Japanese counterpart to ease tensions were ongoing, Hideki Tojo, the minister of war who would soon be prime minister, had no intention of withdrawing from captured territories. He also construed the American “threat” of war as an ultimatum and prepared to deliver the first blow in a Japanese-American confrontation: the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

And so Tokyo delivered the order to all pertinent Fleet commanders, that not only the United States—and its protectorate the Philippines—but British and Dutch colonies in the Pacific were to be attacked. War was going to be declared on the West.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Panama declares independence

With the support of the U.S. government, Panama issues a declaration of independence from Colombia. The revolution was engineered by a Panamanian faction backed by the Panama Canal Company, a French-U.S. corporation that hoped to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with a ...read more

The Soviet space dog

The Soviet Union launches the first animal into space—a dog name Laika—aboard the Sputnik 2 spacecraft. Laika, part Siberian husky, lived as a stray on the Moscow streets before being enlisted into the Soviet space program. Laika survived for several days as a passenger in the ...read more

Iran arms sales revealed

The Lebanese magazine Ash Shiraa reports that the United States has been secretly selling arms to Iran in an effort to secure the release of seven American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon. The revelation, confirmed by U.S. intelligence sources on November 6, came ...read more

Communists and Klansmen clash in Greensboro

Five members of the Communist Workers Party, participating in a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, are shot to death by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis. Seven others were wounded. Members of the Communist Workers Party had organized the anti-Ku Klux Klan ...read more

Nixon calls on the “silent majority”

President Richard Nixon goes on television and radio to call for national solidarity on the Vietnam War effort and to gather support for his policies; his call for support is an attempt to blunt the renewed strength of the antiwar movement. Pledging that the United States was ...read more

Battle of Dak To begins

In some of the heaviest fighting seen in the Central Highlands area, heavy casualties are sustained by both sides in bloody battles around Dak To, about 280 miles north of Saigon near the Cambodian border. The 1,000 U.S. troops there were reinforced with 3,500 additional troops ...read more

The Body is elected governor of Minnesota

On November 3, 1998, former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura is elected governor of Minnesota with 37 percent of the vote. His opponents, seasoned politicians Hubert Humphrey III (son of Lyndon Johnson’s vice-president and the attorney general of Minnesota) and St. ...read more

Johnson defeats Goldwater for presidency

In one of the most crushing victories in the history of U.S. presidential elections, incumbent Lyndon Baines Johnson defeats Republican challenger Barry Goldwater, Sr. With over 60 percent of the popular vote, Johnson turned back the conservative senator from Arizona to secure ...read more

Jubal Early born

On this day in 1816, Confederate General Jubal Early is born in Franklin County, Virginia. Early had a distinguished career in the Confederate army, and in 1864 he waged a campaign in the Shenandoah Valley that kept Confederate hopes alive by relieving the pressure on General ...read more