Roosevelt wants to repeal the Neutrality Act and enter America into World War II one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor
Item Number: 13367
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
32nd president of the United States. Typed letter signed as president, one page, 7" x 9," White House letterhead, November 7, 1941. Letter to a lady in Massachusetts. In part: “I hope much that the Congress will repeal the Neutrality Act and I expect we shall know more about it by the end of the week.” Signed "Franklin Roosevelt."
Domestic support for isolationism, was strong in America. This forced FDR to provide a clandestine support of Britain. The Neutrality Acts were laws passed in 1935, 1936, 1937, and 1939 to limit U.S. involvement in future wars. They were based on the widespread disillusionment with World War I and the belief that the United States had been drawn into the war through loans and trade with the Allies. Isolationism was particularly strong in America at the time. Congressional proponents of neutrality legislation sought to prevent similar mistakes. The 1935 act banned munitions exports to belligerents and restricted American travel on belligerent ships. The 1936 act banned loans to belligerents. These bills were signed and publicly applauded by President Roosevelt, although he complained privately that they limited presidential authority. The 1939 act, passed with President Roosevelt's active support in November under the shadow of the European war, banned U.S. ships from carrying goods or passengers to belligerent ports but allowed the United States to sell munitions. Roosevelt further eroded neutrality over the next two years, trading surplus U.S. destroyers to Britain for access to naval and air bases and providing U.S. military equipment to enemies of Germany and Japan under the Lend-Lease Act.
Still Roosevelt could see that America had to get involved in this global conflict. Less than a week after our letter Congress repealed the Neutrality Acts on 13 November 1941. Although seen as the high tide of interwar isolationism, the neutrality legislation of 1935–37 had minimal impact on U.S. defense planning. The 1939 act encouraged combat testing of U.S. equipment by Allied forces, but also created shortages as U.S. production initially was unable to meet requirements of both Allies and expanding U.S. forces.
Japan's war planners never gave any thought the galvanizing effect a surprise attack might have on the American public. The Pearl Harbor attack was just part of an orchestrated, Pacific-wide assault. Seriously underestimating the naval, air, and ground strength of Japan, America did not expect the Japanese to attack all predicted targets at the same time. As casualties and losses mounted, it would have been unlikely that the United States would have responded any other way than total war.
Roosevelt, declaring war on December 8, 1941, declared the previous day a “date that will live in infamy,” and listed all of the places in the Pacific that the Japanese attacked. Roosevelt, who wanted war with Germany, particularly worried that the European war, a far greater threat in his estimation, would be seen in the United States as a European problem and Japan as the Americans’ sole concern. Within days, Hitler would alleviate FDR's concerns. On December 11, 1941, Hitler gave a speech to the Reichstag. Confused and rambling, he compared his own childhood of poverty to that of the wealthy Roosevelt. He declared war on the United States. In doing so, he ensured his own destruction. UK Prime Minster Winston Churchill, when he heard of Pearl Harbor, remarked, “so we have won after all!” The American public would have been quite content with dealing with Japan and leaving the European War to the Europeans. The treachery of the Japanese attack burned bright in the minds of most Americans, and they wanted revenge. If not for the declaration of war by Germany, Roosevelt would have had a hard time justifying declaring war on Germany until Japan was destroyed. But Germany did declare war, and the U-boats moved the Eastern seaboard in January 1942.
The war with Germany was secured in the mind of the American public with a propaganda series called Why We Fight. In it, Hollywood director Frank Capra outlined the rise of Nazism and the reasons why England and France went to war. Powerful in its simplicity, Capra used footage from Nazi propaganda films to great effect. Roosevelt ordered the series, originally made for the Armed Forces, to be shown in movie theatres across the United States. By the end of 1942, the was no question that the United States’ war with Nazi Germany was necessary.
In very good condition, with uniform block of toning from previous display, and text and signature a shade or two light, but completely legible.