FDR Pearl Harbor Speech

December 7, 2011 by staff 

FDR Pearl Harbor SpeechFDR Pearl Harbor Speech, Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on the United States’ air and naval bases at Pearl Harbor. If you haven’t seen it already, we invite you to turn to click here to read some readers’ rememberances of how that terrible day unfolded — both on the island of Oahu and in Southwest Washington.

We’ll take a minute in this space to discuss the decision-making and leadership shown in the aftermath of the attack by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

With reports from Hawaii still incomplete, Roosevelt was deluged with advice from political allies and opponents:

• His inner circle — including Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox — recommended a lengthy, detailed presentation to Congress the next day that would have made the case for war not only against Japan, but against the European Axis powers.

• Isolationist elements from both parties in Congress were just as adamant the U.S. stay out of the European conflict, in progress for more than two years, at all costs. There was also a pro-German bloc (members would eventually become hard to locate) that felt Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich would be easier to deal with in a postwar environment than would Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union.

• American military commanders asked that the full extent of the damages wrought by the Japanese attack not be made public immediately, possibly raising doubts about the United States’ ability to defeat a nation fully prepared for war.

Rather than call in a focus group or commission a poll, Roosevelt set his own course

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