The Japanese bombed the U.S. naval base at Hawaii's Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, in an attempt to destroy the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet. The bombing caused the deaths of more than 2,500 Americans, and an additional 1,000 were wounded during the attack.
The attack was motivated by bitterness over trade embargoes and economic sanctions the United States had levied against Japan in an attempt to quell Japan's expansionism. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the battleship USS Arizona was completely destroyed when a 1,800-pound bomb was dropped on its deck; over 1,000 trapped men perished inside as it sank. Another battleship, the USS Oklahoma, capsized due to damage caused by the bombing. A total of 18 ships sank or were beached that day, while aircraft located at the base saw a similar fate, with around 300 crippled or destroyed.
While the Japanese had anticipated that the bombing would prompt the United States to lift economic sanctions against their country, the result of the bombing was a declaration of war against Japan by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Dec. 8, 1941. Japan's allies, Italy and Germany, declared war on the United States just three days later, which led to the United States declaring against those two countries as well, officially catapulting the country into World War II.