Mr. Black and the Limits of Sacrifice: Rationing and the Black Market in Fredericksburg and the Commonwealth of Virginia during World War II

  • 2016

Mr. Black and the Limits of Sacrifice: Rationing and the Black Market in Fredericksburg and the Commonwealth of Virginia during World War II

Author:
Vina Hutchinson
Abstract:

In popular history and memory, the World War II years are remembered as glory years for the United States. The country’s armed forces fought in league with their allies across the globe to protect freedom and secure the same for the oppressed. People in Allied countries easily identified Hitler and Tojo as representatives of evil and enjoyed seeing them vilified in cartoons and caricatures. World War II was, in most ways, a good and just war. But even this good and just war called upon Americans to make sacrifices for the greater good. The government viewed rationing of certain goods and price controls on others as necessary not only as a means to prevent inflation but also to ensure equitable distribution. While Americans supported the principle of sacrifice, they often found the reality difficult to bear, employing a series of alibis to excuse their behavior “claiming their sacrifices would not really have helped the war anyway, that someone else was receiving favored treatment, or that some blockheaded bureaucrat was bungling the whole thing.” Some Americans during the war years viewed rationing in the United States with suspicion because as residents in the land of plenty, they found it difficult to believe that food and other supplies could be available only on a limited basis. For some Americans, sacrifice had its limits.