Government Goes to War

California had two wartime governors during the Second World War: Culbert Olson (1939-43), a Democrat; and Earl Warren (1943-53), a Republican. They would square off against each other in the 1942 election over wartime policy. After winning, Warren – the former State Attorney General – would take the lead in seeing the state through the peak of California's war production and the demilitarization of the post-war period.

The California State Legislature faced a busy wartime agenda of drafting a legislative program which supported California's vital role during and after the war. Tragically, this included legislation that supported the Japanese-American relocation programs. In 1943, the Assembly and Senate also conducted a major Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities in California.

Over 213,000 federal employees and 28,000 state employees filled out the ranks of government workers during the war. Many were replacements for men who had enlisted in the war effort, who in turn expected to return to their former positions.