Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Andrew Morris


World War II, Unconditional Surrender, FDR, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Japan


This thesis examines possible diplomatic solutions that may have ceased United States-Japanese conflict throughout the late 1930s and 40s. The first chapter analyzes the declaration of the policy of unconditional surrender, and what this policy entailed. Despite Roosevelt claiming that the idea just came to him, it was a carefully developed policy, and was chosen to be enacted for a multitude of reasons. After the Casablanca conference in January 1943, unconditional surrender became a unifying policy and a politically smart policy in Roosevelt's favor. The second chapter then analyzes the tensions rising between Japan and the United States through the 1930s to provide context for the outbreak of World War II. After Japan was opened by Commodore Matthew Perry, they industrialized at a rapid pace. Like other western powers, they sought to imperialize to expand their influence, and obtain resources. Attempted diplomatic efforts to circumvent war in the Pacific before December, 1941, are analyzed. The third chapter then looks at public opinion regarding unconditional surrender, and its evolution over time. Internal strife among the federal government in trying to modify the policy is also noted. Some members of the State Department, and almost all high level military planners wanted to modify the terms of surrender to bring about a faster surrender. One way in which this was pursued was by attempting to allow the institution of the Emperor to stay intact after the war. In the end, diplomatic actions were unsuccessful. This is largely due to the combined hurdles of internal conflict, complex bureaucratic structure, the heat of war, and unwillingness to forgo the major goals of the war. Diplomatic actions that compromised the complete destruction of Japanese militarism were not considered by President Roosevelt or Truman.



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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.