Five months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invasion of the Malay Peninsula jolted US officials into facing the prospect of serious commodity shortages as they lost access to the region responsible for 90 percent of the United States' imports. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Board of Economic Warfare (BEW) cast about for alternative sources to supply nearly one million tons of the material essential for seals, tubes, and, most importantly, tires for automobiles and airplanes. The president's Rubber Survey Committee quickly prioritized synthetic rubber but emphasized the need for a stopgap source until manufacturing could get up to speed. The United States turned to the Amazon, and particularly Brazil, which in exchange for its participation with the Allied cause ended up receiving more than 70 percent of all lend-lease aid to Latin America and nearly $75 million in export-import bank loans. Seth Garfield's new...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.