This audio takes several seconds to begin.

The total length is 25:37

twenty-five minutes and thirty-seven seconds

My fellow Americans.

The sudden criminal attacks perpetrated by the Japanese
in the Pacific provide the climax of a decade of
international immorality.

Powerful and resourceful gangsters have banded
together, to make war upon the whole human race.

Their challenge has now been flung at the United States
of America.

The Japanese have treacherously violated the
long-standing peace between us.

Many American soldiers and sailors have been killed by
enemy action. American ships have been sunk. American
airplanes have been destroyed.

The Congress, and the people of the United States, have
accepted that challenge.

Together with other free peoples, we are now fighting to
maintain our right to live.

Among our world neighbors. In freedom. In common
decency. Without fear of assault.

I have prepared the full record of our past relations with
Japan. And it will be submitted to the Congress.

It begins with the visit of Commodore Perry to Japan, 88
years ago. It ends with the visit of two Japanese
emissaries to the Secretary of State last Sunday.

An hour after Japanese forces had loosed their bombs
and machine guns against our flag, our forces, and our

I can say with utmost confidence that no Americans
today, or a thousand years hence, need feel anything but
pride in our patience, and in our efforts, through all the
years, toward achieving a peace in the Pacific, which
would be fair and honorable to every nation, large or

And no honest person today, or a thousand years hence,
will be able to suppress a sense of indignation and horror
at the treachery committed by the military dictators of
Japan, under the very shadow of the flag of peace, borne
by their special envoys in our midst.

The course that Japan has followed for the past 10 years
in Asia has paralleled the course of Hitler and Mussolini in
Europe, and in Africa. Today, it has become far more than
a parallel. It is collaboration; actual collaboration. So well
calculated, that all the continents of the world, and all the
oceans, are now considered by the Axis strategists as one
gigantic battlefield.

In 1931, ten years ago, Japan invaded Manchukuo,
without warning.

In 1935, Italy invaded Ethiopia, without warning.

In 1938, Hitler occupied Austria, without warning.

In 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, without warning.

Later in '39, Hitler invaded Poland, without warning.

In 1940, Hitler invaded Norway, Denmark, the
Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, without warning.

In 1940 Italy attacked France. In 1941 the Axis powers
attacked Yugoslavia and Greece, and they dominated the
Balkans, without warning.

In 1941 also, Hitler invaded Russia, without warning.

And now, Japan has attacked Malaya, and Thailand, and
the United States, without warning.

It is all of one pattern. We are now in this war.

We're all in it. All the way.

Every single man, woman, and child is a partner in the
most tremendous undertaking of our American history.

We must share together the bad news and the good
news. The defeats and the victories. The changing
fortunes of war.

So far, the news has been all bad. We have suffered a
serious setback in Hawaii.

Our forces in the Philippines, which include the brave
people of that commonwealth, are taking punishment, but
are defending themselves vigorously.

The reports from Guam, and Wake, and Midway Islands,
are still confused. But we must be prepared for the
announcement that all these 3 outposts have been seized.

The casualty lists of these first few days will undoubtedly
be large.

I deeply feel the anxiety of all the families of the men in
our armed forces, and the relatives of people in cities
which have been bombed.

I can only give them my solemn promise that they will get
news just as quickly as possible.

This government will put its trust in the stamina of the
American people. And will give the facts to the public, just
as soon as two conditions have been fulfilled:

First, that the information has been definitely and officially

And second, that the release of the information, at the
time it is received, will not prove valuable to the enemy,
directly or indirectly.

Most earnestly, I urge my countrymen to reject all rumors.
These ugly little hints of complete disaster fly thick and
fast in wartime. They have to be examined and appraised.

As an example, I can tell you frankly that, until further
surveys are made, I have not sufficient information to
state the exact damage which has been done to our naval
vessels at Pearl Harbor.

Admittedly, the damage is serious.

But no one can say how serious. Until we know how
much of this damage can be repaired, and how quickly
the necessary repairs can be made.

I cite, as another example, a statement made on Sunday
night that a Japanese carrier had been located and sunk
off the Canal Zone.

And when you hear statements that are attributed to what
they call an "authoritative source," you can be reasonably
sure, from now on, that under these war circumstances,
the "authoritative source" is not any person in authority.

Many rumors and reports which we now hear originate, of
course, with enemy sources.

For instance, today, the Japanese are claiming that, as a
result of their one action against Hawaii, they have gained
naval supremacy in the Pacific.

This is an old trick of propaganda, which has been used
innumerable times by the Nazis. The purposes of such
fantastic claims are, of course, to spread fear and
confusion among us, and to goad us into revealing
military information, which our enemies are desperately
anxious to obtain.

Our government will not be caught in this obvious trap.
And neither will the people of the United States.

It must be remembered, by each and every one of us, that
our free and rapid communication these days must be
greatly restricted in wartime.

It is not possible to receive full, and speedy and accurate
reports, from distant areas of combat. This is particularly
true where naval operations are concerned.

For in these days of the marvels of the radio, it's often
impossible for the commanders of various units to report
their activities by radio at all.

For the very simple reason that this information would
become available to the enemy. And would disclose their
position, and their plan of defense or attack.

Of necessity, there will be delays in officially confirming or
denying reports of operations.

But we will not hide facts from the country.

If we know the facts, and if the enemy will not be aided by
their disclosure.

To all newspapers and radio stations, all those who reach
the eyes and ears of the American people, I say this:

You have a most grave responsibility to the nation, now
and through the duration of this war.

If you feel that your government is not disclosing enough
of the truth, you have every right to say so.

But in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official
sources, you have no right, in the ethics of patriotism, to
deal out unconfirmed reports, in such a way as to make
people believe that they are Gospel truth.

Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same

The lives of our soldiers and sailors, the whole future of
this nation, depend upon the manner in which each and
every one of us fulfills his obligation to our country.

Now, a word about the recent past, and the future.

A year and a half has elapsed since the fall of France.
When the whole world first realized the mechanized might
which the Axis nations had been building up for so many

America has used that year and a half to great advantage.
Knowing that the attack might reach us in all too short a
time, we immediately began greatly to increase our
industrial strength, and our capacity to meet the demands
of modern warfare.

Precious months were gained by sending vast quantities
of our war material to the nations of the world still able to
resist Axis aggression.

Our policy rested on the fundamental truth that
the defense of any country resisting Hitler or Japan was,
in the long run, the defense of our own country.

That policy has been justified.

It has given us time. Invaluable time. To build our
American assembly lines of production. Assembly lines
are now in operation. Others are being rushed to

A steady stream of tanks and planes, of guns and ships
and shells and equipment. That is what these 18 months
have given us.

But it is all only a beginning of what still has to be done.

We must be set to face a long war, against crafty and
powerful bandits. The attack at Pearl Harbor can be
repeated at any one of many points. Points in both
oceans, and along both our coastlines, and against all the
rest of the hemisphere.

It will not only be a long war. It will be a hard war. That is
the basis on which we now lay all our plans.

That is the yardstick by which we measure what we shall
need and demand.

Money. Materials. Doubled and quadrupled production.

The production must be not only for our own Army and
Navy and Air Forces. It must reinforce the other armies
and navies and air forces.

Fighting the Nazis, and the warlords of Japan, throughout
the Americas, and throughout the world.

I have been working, today, on the subject of production.

Your government has decided on two broad policies. The
first is to speed up all existing production by working on a
seven-day-week basis; in every war industry, including
the production of essential raw materials.

The second policy, now being put into form, is to rush
additions to the capacity of production by building more
new plants, by adding to old plants, and by using the
many smaller plants for war needs.

Over the hard road of the past months, we have at times
met obstacles and difficulties, divisions and disputes,
indifference and callousness.

That is now all past.  And, I am sure, forgotten.

The fact is that the country now has an organization in
Washington built around men and women who are
recognized experts in their own fields.

I think the country knows that the people who are actually
responsible in each and every one of these many fields
are pulling together with a teamwork that has never
before been excelled.

On the road ahead there lies hard work. Grueling work.
Day and night. Every hour, and every minute.

I was about to add that ahead there lies "sacrifice" for all
of us.

But it is not correct to use that word.

The United States does not consider it a "sacrifice" to do
all one can, to give one's best to our nation, when the
nation is fighting for its existence, and its future life.

It is not a "sacrifice" for any man, old or young, to be in
the Army or the Navy of the United States.

Rather is it a privilege.

It is not a "sacrifice" for the industrialist, or the
wage-earner, the farmer or the shopkeeper, the train man
or the doctor; to pay more taxes, to buy more bonds, to
forego extra profits, to work longer or harder, at the task
for which he is best fitted.

Rather is it a privilege.

It is not a sacrifice to do without many things to which we
are accustomed, if the national defense calls for doing
without it.

A review this morning leads me to the conclusion that at
present we shall not have to curtail the normal use of
articles of food.

There is enough food today for all of us.

And enough left over to send to those who are fighting on
the same side with us.

But there will be a clear and definite shortage of metals
for many kinds of civilian use. For the very good reason
that, in our increased program, we shall need, for war
purposes, more than half of that portion of the principle
metals, which during the past year have gone into articles
for civilian use.

Yes, we shall have to give up many things, and paths.

And I am sure that the people in every part of the nation
are prepared, in their individual living, to win this war.

I am sure that they will cheerfully help to pay a large part
of its financial cost, while it goes on.

I am sure they will cheerfully give up those material things
that they are asked to give up.

And I am sure that they will retain all those great spiritual
things without which we cannot win through.

I repeat that the United States can accept no result, save
victory. Final. Complete.

Not only must the shame of Japanese treachery be wiped
out. But the sources of international brutality, wherever
they exist, must be absolutely and finally broken.

In my message to the Congress yesterday I said that we
will make very certain that this form of treachery shall
never endanger us again.

In order to achieve that certainty, we must begin the great
task that is before us by abandoning, once and for all, the
illusion that we can ever again isolate ourselves from the
rest of humanity.

In these past few years, and most violently in the past 3
days, we have learned a terrible lesson. It is our obligation
to our dead. It is our sacred obligation to their children,
and to our children, that we must never forget what we
have learned.

And what we have learned is this:

There is no such thing as security for any nation, or any
individual, in a world ruled by the principles of

There is no such thing as impregnable defense against
powerful aggressors who sneak up in the dark, and strike
without warning.

We have learned that our ocean-girt hemisphere is not
immune from severe attack. That we cannot measure our
safety in terms of miles on any map, anymore.

We may acknowledge that our enemies have performed a
brilliant feat of deception. Perfectly timed, and executed
with great skill.

It was a thoroughly dishonorable deed.

But we must face the fact that modern warfare, as
conducted in the Nazi manner, is a dirty business.

We don't like it. We didn't want to get in it.

But we are in it.

And we're going to fight it, with everything we've got.

I do not think any American has any doubt of our ability to
administer proper punishment to the perpetrators of these

Your government knows that, for weeks, Germany has
been telling Japan that if Japan did not attack the United
States, Japan would not share in dividing the spoils with
Germany, when peace came.

She was promised by Germany that if she came in, she
would receive the complete and perpetual control of the
whole of the Pacific area.

And that means not only the Far East, but also all of the
islands in the Pacific. And also a stranglehold on the
West Coast of North and Central and South America.

We know also that Germany and Japan are conducting
their military and naval operations in accordance with a
joint plan.

That plan considers all peoples and nations which are not
helping the Axis powers as common enemies of each and
every one of the Axis powers.

That is their simple and obvious "grand strategy."

And that is why the American people must realize that it
can be matched only with similar "grand strategy."

We must realize, for example, that Japanese successes
against the United States in the Pacific are helpful to
German operations in Libya.

That any German success against the Caucasus is
inevitably an assistance to Japan in her operations
against the Dutch East Indies.

That a German attack against Algiers or Morocco opens
the way to a German attack against South America, and
the Canal.

On the other side of the picture, we must learn also to
know that guerrilla warfare against the Germans in, let us
say Serbia, or Norway, helps us. That a successful
Russian offensive against the Germans, helps us.

And that British successes on land or sea, in any part of
the world, strengthen our hands.

Remember always that Germany and Italy, regardless of
any formal declaration of war, consider themselves at war
with the United States at this moment. Just as much as
they consider themselves at war with Britain or Russia.

And Germany puts all the other republics of the Americas
into the same category of enemies.

The people of our sister republics of this hemisphere can
be honored by that fact.

The true goal we seek is far above and beyond the ugly
field of battle.

When we resort to force, as now we must, we are
determined that this force shall be directed toward
ultimate good, as well as against immediate evil.

We Americans are not destroyers. We are builders.

We are now in the midst of a war. Not for conquest. Not
for vengeance. But for a world in which this nation, and all
that this nation represents, will be safe for our children.

We expect to eliminate the danger from Japan. But it
would serve us ill if we accomplished that, and found that
the rest of the world was dominated by Hitler and

So, we are going to win the war. And we are going to win
the peace that follows. And in the difficult hours of this
day, through dark days that may be yet to come, we will
know that the vast majority of the members of the human
race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us.
All of them are praying for us.

But in representing our cause, we represent theirs as well.
Our hope, and their hope, for liberty, under God.
I will attempt to transcribe the text of the speech, below.
Breadcrumb trail:
Michigan State University » MSU Libraries » Vincent Voice Library

Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano).

December 8, 1941        [or December 9, 1941  ?]


VVL Call No.: DB5975.   

Alternate VVL Number: 01-1311-012
from RooseveltFD  

Pearl Harbor Day fireside chat: message to the American people on the
implications and plans for the war by F.D. Roosevelt.  

Recording Source: CBS

Copyright Status: Public Domain

Running Time: 25.8 min

wav open-reel mp3  

Vincent Voice Library
Michigan State University Libraries
100 Library
East Lansing, MI 48824-1048

May 12, 2008

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December 9, 1941