delivered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on January 6, 1941

  Mr. Speaker, members of the 77th Congress :


  I address you, the members of this new 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


  Since the 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.  And,

  fortunately, only one of these --the four-year war between

  the States --ever threatened our national unity.  Today,

  thank God, 130,000,000 Americans in forty-eight States have

  forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.


  It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often has

  been disturbed by events in other continents.  We have 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 has

  a serious threat been raised against our national safety or

  our continued independence.

  What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United

  States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition

  --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.


  That determination of ours, extending over all these years,

  was proved, for example, in the early days during the

  quarter century of wars following the French Revolution.

  While the Napoleonic struggle 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



  And in like 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.

  Except in 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.

  Even when the World War broke out in 1941 it seemed to

  contain only small threat of danger to our own American

  future.  But as time went on, as we remember, the American

  people began to visualize what the downfall of democratic

  nations might mean to our own democracy.


  We need 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.

  I suppose that every 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 poisionous propaganda by those who seek to

  destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still

  at peace.


  During sixteen long months this assault has blotted out the

  whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of

  independent nations, great and small.  And the assailants

  are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and


  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



  Armed 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 and Asia, Africa

  and Australia will be dominated by conquerors.  And let us

  remember that the total of those populations in those four

  continents, the total of those populations and their

  resources greatly exceeds the sum total of the population

  and the resources of the whole of the Western Hemisphere

  --yes, many times over.


  In times 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.

  No 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.  Such a 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.


  As a nation we may take pride in the fact that we are

  soft-hearted; but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.  We

  must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a

  tinkling cymbal preach the ism of appeasement.  We must

  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.

  I have 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 nation win

  this war.


  There is 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.

  But we 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.


  The first 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 by their

  dupes-- and great numbers of them are already here and in

  Latin America.

  As long as the aggressor nations maintain the offensive

  they, not we, will choose the time and the place and the

  method of their attack.

  And that is why the future of all the American Republics is

  today in serious danger. That is why this annual message to

  the Congress is unique in our history.  That is why every

  member of the executive branch of the government and every

  member of the Congress face great responsibility-- great



  The need 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.

  Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been

  based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity

  of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national

  policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect

  for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and

  small.  And the justice of morality must and will win in the



  Our national policy is this :

  First, by an impressive expression of the public will and

  without regard to partisanship, we are committed to

  all-inclusive national defense.

  Second, by an impressive expression of the public will and

  without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full

  support of all those resolute people 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



  Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and

  without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the

  proposition that principle 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 freedom.

  In the 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 the line before

  the American electorate.  And 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.  Leaders 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 plans.

  The Army 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.

   No matter whether the original goal was set too high or too

  low, our objective is quicker and better results.

  To give you two illustrations :

  We are behind schedule in turning out finished airplanes. 

  We are working day and night to solve the innumerable

  problems and to catch up.


  We are ahead of schedule in building warships, but we are

  working to get even further ahead of that schedule.

  To change 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.  The

  greatest difficulty comes at the beginning of the program,

  when new tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines,

  new shipways must first be constructed before the actual

  material begins to flow steadily and speedily from them.


  The 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.

  New 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



  I also 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.  Our

  most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for

  them as well as for ourselves.  They do not need manpower,

  but they do need billions of dollars' worth of the weapons

  of defense.

  The time 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.  I 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.  And

  nearly all of their material would, if the time ever came,

  be useful in our own defense.

  Taking 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 defense.


  For what we send abroad we shall be repaid, repaid within a

  reasonable time following the close of hostilities, repaid

  in similar materials, or at our option in other goods of

  many kinds which they can produce and which we need. 

  Let us 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.  That is our purpose and our pledge."


  In 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. 

  And when the 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.  Their only interest is in a new

  one-way international law which lacks mutuality in its

  observance and therefore becomes an instrument of

  oppression.  The happiness of future generations of

  Americans may well depend on 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 danger.


  Yes, and we must prepare, all of us 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, in defense preparations at any time,

  must give way to the national need. 

  A free 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.


  The best 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 unashakeable 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 the things worth fighting for.


  The 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 fiber of

  our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their

  devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.

  Certainly 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.  For there 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 :

  Equality 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.

  The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a

  wider and constantly rising standard of living.

  These are the simple, the basic things that must never be

  lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of

  our modern world.  The inner and abiding straight of our

  economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree

  to which they fulfill these expectations.


  Many subjects connected with our social economy call for

  immediate improvement.  As examples :

  We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age

  pensions and unemployment insurance.

  We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care. 

  We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or

  needing gainful employment may obtain it.

  I have called for personal sacrifice, and 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 will recommend that

  a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for

  from taxation than we are paying for today.  No person

  should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program,

  and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability

  to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our



  If the congress maintains these principles the voters,

  putting patriotism ahead pocketbooks, will give you their


  In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look

  forward to a world founded upon four essential human


  The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere

  in the world.


  The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his

  own way-- everywhere in the world.

  The third 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.


  The 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 wold.

  That is 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.


  To that 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 without fear.

  Since the 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

  quicklime in the ditch.  The world order which we seek is

  the cooperation of free countries, working together in a

  friendly, civilized society. 


  This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, 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 and keep them.  Our

  strength is our unity of purpose.


  To that high concept there can be no end save victory.