Congress Enacts Last Official Declaration of War

1941

On December 7, 1941, a Japanese surprise attack destroys the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which is a U.S. territory. President Franklin Roosevelt calls for a declaration of war against Japan, which Congress adopts with only one dissenting vote in the House. Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, also declare war on the United States, and Congress unanimously declares war against them. In June 1942, Congress again unanimously declares war on three of Germany’s allies, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. Italy is defeated in 1943, and Germany surrenders in May 1945. Following the use of atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan announces its surrender in August 1945, signing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2. World War II marks the last time that the U.S. Congress officially declares war against another nation.