Allied Leaders of World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Part 2)

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11203

To err is human. Presidents are only human and make mistakes. FDR, considered one of the best wartime leaders, made more than a mistake: He confined 1000s of Americans for their race. Learn more.


United States, World

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Can one bad decision ruin the reputation of a leader? 
  • What if other decisions he or she made were good ones?

In this lesson, you will investigate a bad decision made by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during WWII and decide if that decision makes you change your opinion of him.

In the previous Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you began researching President Franklin D. Roosevelt's leadership during World War II.

Before you begin evaluating another aspect of FDR's presidency during WWII, let's review what you have already learned.

  • Make a list of three positive things President Roosevelt did during WWII.
  • Share your list with a teacher or parent.
  • Discuss how these things made him a successful wartime leader.

President Roosevelt is considered by most historians to have been one of the best U.S. presidents of all time, and an excellent wartime leader. But, like all leaders, Roosevelt did not make good decisions all the time.

During World War II, he made one decision that harmed a specific group of Americans. It occurred on February 19, 1942, the day that will live — and has lived — in infamy. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor terrified Americans. There had not been such brutality on U.S. soil since the Revolutionary War, and many Americans feared another attack was imminent. These fears and anxieties caused some to lash out at Japanese Americans, because they were afraid some may be acting as spies for the Japanese government.

President Roosevelt needed to do something to help calm American fears, so he signed Executive Order 9066. Under Executive Order 9066, military zones were created to be used as internment camps, that were similar to a prisoner of war camps. Hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans were forced from their homes and taken to these internment camps until the end of the war.

You can learn more about life at Japanese internment camps, and the effects of Executive Order 9066, by reading Japanese Internment Camps (The History Channel) and watching FDR and WWII, Part 4, Japanese-American Internment (Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum) (below):


  • Do the Japanese internment camps shock you?
  • Does learning about President Roosevelt's decision to open internment camps change your opinion of him as a wartime leader? Why or why not?
  • Discuss your opinions with a teacher or parent.

Move onto the Got It? section to continue explaining your opinion about President Roosevelt's leadership during WWII.

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