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Troops Favored Segregation in 1942 Pre-Integration Military Surveys

Igor Volsky at The Wonk Room investigated some information from Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld that prior to Truman's 1948 executive order integrating the armed forces a number of surveys were undertaken to determine troop attitudes.

TroopsVolsky found, at least in one case, troops didn't favor integration:

Today, I traveled to the National Archives and recovered some of the surveys the military conducted about the troops’ attitudes towards black people between 1942 and 1946. At the time, the military — along with the overwhelming majority of the country — opposed integrating black servicemembers into the forces and preferred a ’separate but equal’ approach that would have required the military to construct separate recreation spaces and facilities. One month before Truman’s order, a Gallup poll showed that 63% of American adults endorsed the separation of Blacks and Whites in the military; only 26% supported integration.

These surveys show that the same attitude pervaded the military: 3/4 Air Force men favored separate training schools, combat, and ground crews and 85% of white soldiers thought it was a good idea to have separate service clubs in army camps.

Check out the military survey from the 40's, AFTER THE JUMP...

(image source)

Final Race Wonk Room

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Comments

  1. The military is not a democracy. It answers to the commander-in-chief, which Harry Truman (a former military man himself) understood. He issued Executive Order 9981 over the vociferous objections of military brass. Anyone who doesn't think that Truman's action disrupted "unit cohesion" for a time is delusional. Regardless, it was the right thing to do.

    Posted by: Hank | Jul 21, 2010 11:14:10 AM


  2. I agree Hank: President Truman always thought of the country as a whole, putting the doing of what is right above politics and polls. Unlike Kennedy and his "situational ethics", Truman had to step in to help those who would die for their country, but who were considered less than human by so many of their neighbors. To do anything less, or nothing at all, and he wouldn't have been true to himself.

    Posted by: Ben | Jul 21, 2010 12:12:53 PM


  3. Based on stem cell research, a women right to choice, same sex marriage, oil accountability, immigration issue of non-whites (i.e.--Mexican border vs Canadian border, European immigration vs Asian or Middle East immigration), universal health care, ect. How is the South any different now?

    Posted by: Dawson | Jul 21, 2010 1:55:48 PM


  4. "TROOPS FAVORED SEGREGATION...."

    What's the big shocker here?

    Posted by: DeeVee | Jul 21, 2010 4:52:46 PM


  5. In WWII, soldiers of Japanese descent were also segregated from white soldiers as were those of American Indian descent. I don't know if the segregated Latino soldiers as well but overall the military was segregated into racial units throughout.

    Posted by: hamp | Jul 21, 2010 9:42:31 PM


  6. This article should be sent to the Comprehensive Review Working Group, the panel at the Pentagon who composed and put out that ridiculous survey.

    Posted by: Dino | Jul 21, 2010 9:52:52 PM


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