Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want.
Freedom from fear.
Our Documents: Franklin Roosevelt's Annual Address to Congress - The
January 6, 1941
President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress:
you, the Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress, at a moment unprecedented
in the history of the Union. I use the word "unprecedented,"
because at no previous time has American security been as seriously
threatened from without as it is today.
permanent formation of our Government under the Constitution, in 1789, most
of the periods of crisis in our history have related to our domestic
affairs. Fortunately, only one of these--the four-year War Between the
States--ever threatened our national unity. Today, thank God, one hundred
and thirty million Americans, in forty-eight States, have forgotten points
of the compass in our national unity.
true that prior to 1914 the United States often had been disturbed by
events in other Continents. We had even engaged in two wars with European
nations and in a number of undeclared wars in the West Indies, in the
Mediterranean and in the Pacific for the maintenance of American rights and
for the principles of peaceful commerce. But in no case had a serious
threat been raised against our national safety or our continued
seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has
at all times maintained clear, definite opposition, to any attempt to lock
us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization
went past. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose
enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.
determination of ours, extending over all these years, was proved, for
example, during the quarter century of wars following the French
Napoleonic struggles did threaten interests of the United States because of
the French foothold in the West Indies and in Louisiana, and while we
engaged in the War of 1812 to vindicate our right to peaceful trade, it is
nevertheless clear that neither France nor Great Britain, nor any other
nation, was aiming at domination of the whole world.
fashion from 1815 to 1914-- ninety-nine years-- no single war in Europe or
in Asia constituted a real threat against our future or against the future
of any other American nation.
the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish
itself in this Hemisphere; and the strength of the British fleet in the
Atlantic has been a friendly strength. It is still a friendly strength.
the World War broke out in 1914, it seemed to contain only small threat of
danger to our own American future. But, as time went on, the American
people began to visualize what the downfall of democratic nations might
mean to our own democracy.
not overemphasize imperfections in the Peace of Versailles. We need not
harp on failure of the democracies to deal with problems of world
reconstruction. We should remember that the Peace of 1919 was far less
unjust than the kind of "pacification" which began even before
Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that
seeks to spread over every continent today. The American people have
unalterably set their faces against that tyranny.
realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being'
directly assailed in every part of the world--assailed either by arms, or
by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy
unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.
sixteen long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of
democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and
small. The assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations,
great and small.
Therefore, as your President, performing my constitutional duty
to "give to the Congress information of the state of the Union,"
I find it, unhappily, necessary to report that the future and the safety of
our country and of our democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events far
beyond our borders.
defense of democratic existence is now being gallantly waged in four
continents. If that defense fails, all the population and all the resources
of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia will be dominated by the
conquerors. Let us remember that the total of those populations and their
resources in those four continents greatly exceeds the sum total of the
population and the resources of the whole of the Western Hemisphere-many
like these it is immature--and incidentally, untrue--for anybody to brag
that an unprepared America, single-handed, and with one hand tied behind
its back, can hold off the whole world.
realistic American can expect from a dictator's peace international
generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or
freedom of expression, or freedom of religion -or even good business.
peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors. "Those, who
would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety."
nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted; but we
cannot afford to be soft-headed.
always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal
preach the "ism" of appeasement.
especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the
wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.
recently pointed out how quickly the tempo of modern warfare could bring
into our very midst the physical attack which we must eventually expect if
the dictator nations win this war.
much loose talk of our immunity from immediate and direct invasion from
across the seas. Obviously, as long as the British Navy retains its power,
no such danger exists. Even if there were no British Navy, it is not
probable that any enemy would be stupid enough to attack us by landing
troops in the United States from across thousands of miles of ocean, until
it had acquired strategic bases from which to operate.
learn much from the lessons of the past years in Europe-particularly the
lesson of Norway, whose essential seaports were captured by treachery and
surprise built up over a series of years.
phase of the invasion of this Hemisphere would not be the landing of
regular troops. The necessary strategic points would be occupied by secret
agents and their dupes- and great numbers of them are already here, and in
as the aggressor nations maintain the offensive, they-not we--will choose
the time and the place and the method of their attack.
why the future of all the American Republics is today in serious danger.
why this Annual Message to the Congress is unique in our history.
why every member of the Executive Branch of the Government and every member
of the Congress faces great responsibility and great accountability.
of the moment is that our actions and our policy should be devoted
primarily-almost exclusively--to meeting this foreign peril. For all our
domestic problems are now a part of the great emergency.
our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent
respect for the rights and the dignity of all our fellow men within our
gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent
respect for the rights and dignity of all nations, large and small. And the
justice of morality must and will win in the end.
Our national policy is this:
an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to
partisanship, we are committed to all-inclusive national defense.
by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to
partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute
peoples, everywhere, who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping
war away from our Hemisphere. By this support, we express our determination
that the democratic cause shall prevail; and we strengthen the defense and
the security of our own nation.
an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to
partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principles of
morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to
acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers. We
know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's
recent national election there was no substantial difference between the
two great parties in respect to that national policy. No issue was fought
out on this line before the American electorate. Today it is abundantly
evident that American citizens everywhere are demanding and supporting
speedy and complete action in recognition of obvious danger.
Therefore, the immediate need is a swift and driving increase
in our armament production.
of industry and labor have responded to our summons. Goals of speed have
been set. In some cases these goals are being reached ahead of time; in
some cases we are on schedule; in other cases there are slight but not
serious delays; and in some cases--and I am sorry to say very important
cases--we are all concerned by the slowness of the accomplishment of our
and Navy, however, have made substantial progress during the past year.
Actual experience is improving and speeding up our methods of production
with every passing day. And today's best is not good enough for tomorrow.
I am not
satisfied with the progress thus far made. The men in charge of the program
represent the best in training, in ability, and in patriotism. They are not
satisfied with the progress thus far made. None of us will be satisfied
until the job is done.
whether the original goal was set too high or too low, our objective is
quicker and better results. To give you two illustrations:
behind schedule in turning out finished airplanes; we are working day and
night to solve the innumerable problems and to catch up.
ahead of schedule in building warships but we are working to get even
further ahead of that schedule.
a whole nation from a basis of peacetime production of implements of peace
to a basis of wartime production of implements of war is no small task. And
the greatest difficulty comes at the beginning of the program, when new
tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines, and new ship ways must
first be constructed before the actual materiel begins to flow steadily and
speedily from them.
Congress, of course, must rightly keep itself informed at all times of the
progress of the program. However, there is certain information, as the
Congress itself will readily recognize, which, in the interests of our own
security and those of the nations that we are supporting, must of needs be
kept in confidence.
circumstances are constantly begetting new needs for our safety. I shall
ask this Congress for greatly increased new appropriations and
authorizations to carry on what we have begun.
ask this Congress for authority and for funds sufficient to manufacture
additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be turned over to
those nations which are now in actual war with aggressor nations.
useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for
ourselves. They do not need man power, but they do need billions of dollars
worth of the weapons of defense.
is near when they will not be able to pay for them all in ready cash. We
cannot, and we will not, tell them that they must surrender, merely because
of present inability to pay for the weapons which we know they must have.
I do not
recommend that we make them a loan of dollars with which to pay for these
weapons--a loan to be repaid in dollars.
recommend that we make it possible for those nations to continue to obtain
war materials in the United States, fitting their orders into our own
program. Nearly all their materiel would, if the time ever came, be useful
for our own defense.
counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best
for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here
and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who by their determined
and heroic resistance are giving us time in which to make ready our own
we send abroad, we shall be repaid within a reasonable time following the
close of hostilities, in similar materials, or, at our option, in other
goods of many kinds, which they can produce and which we need.
say to the democracies: "We Americans are vitally concerned in your
defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and
our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a
free world. We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes,
tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge."
fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of
dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an
act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their
aggression. Such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should
unilaterally proclaim it so to be.
dictators, if the dictators, are ready to make war upon us, they will not
wait for an act of war on our part. They did not wait for Norway or Belgium
or the Netherlands to commit an act of war.
only interest is in a new one-way international law, which lacks mutuality
in its observance, and, therefore, becomes an instrument of oppression.
happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend upon how
effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can tell the
exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to
meet. The Nation's hands must not be tied when the Nation's life is in
all prepare to make the sacrifices that the emergency-almost as serious as
war itself--demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in
defense preparations must give way to the national need.
nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free
nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor, and of
agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups
but within their own groups.
way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is,
first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the
sovereignty of Government to save Government.
As men do
not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone. Those who
man our defenses, and those behind them who build our defenses, must have
the stamina and the courage which come from unshakable belief in the manner
of life which they are defending. The mighty action that we are calling for
cannot be based on a disregard of all things worth fighting for.
Nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which
have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in
the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened
the fibre of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their
devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.
this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and
economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which
is today a supreme factor in the world.
is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong
democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and
economic systems are simple. They are:
of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly
rising standard of living.
the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil
and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding
strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree
to which they fulfill these expectations.
subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.
bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment
widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.
plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful
employment may obtain it.
called for personal sacrifice. I am assured of the willingness of almost
all Americans to respond to that call.
A part of
the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget
Message I shall recommend that a greater portion of this great defense
program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person
should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program; and the
principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be
constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.
Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead
of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.
future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world
founded upon four essential human freedoms.
is freedom of speech and expression--everywhere in the world.
second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way--everywhere
in the world.
is freedom from want--which, translated into world terms, means economic
understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life
for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.
fourth is freedom from fear--which, translated into world terms, means a
world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough
fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical
aggression against any neighbor--anywhere in the world.
no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of
world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the
very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators
seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
new order we oppose the greater conception--the moral order. A good society
is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike
beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change -- in a
perpetual peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes on steadily,
quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions--without the concentration
camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the
cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized
nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its
millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance
of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support
goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength
is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save
Our Document List