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Selected Sources Sections Studying History Reformation Early Modern World Everyday Life Absolutism Constitutionalism Colonial North America Colonial Latin America Scientific Revolution Enlightenment Enlightened Despots American Independence French Revolution Industrial Revolution Romanticism Conservative Order Nationalism Liberalism 1848 19C Britain 19C France 19C Germany 19C Italy 19C West Europe 19C East Europe Early US US Civil War US Immigration 19C US Culture Canada Australia & New Zealand 19C Latin America Socialism Imperialism Industrial Revolution II Darwin, Freud 19C Religion World War I Russian Revolution Age of Anxiety Depression Fascism Nazism Holocaust World War II Bipolar World US Power US Society Western Europe Since 1945 Eastern Europe Since 1945 Decolonization Asia Since 1900 Africa Since 1945 Middle East Since 1945 20C Latin America Modern Social Movements Post War Western Thought Religion Since 1945 Modern Science Pop Culture 21st Century
IHSP Credits
Modern History Sourcebook:
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945):
America, the Arsenal of Democracy

The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb. We know now that a nation can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender...

The people of Europe who are defending themselves do not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war, the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters which will enable them to fight for their liberty and for our security. Emphatically we must get these weapons to them in sufficient volume and quickly enough, so that we and our children will be saved the agony and suffering of war which others have had to endure.

Let not the defeatists tell us that it is too late. It will never be earlier. Tomorrow will be later than today.

Certain facts are self-evident.

In a military sense Great Britain and the British Empire are today the spearhead of resistance to world conquest. They are putting up a fight which will live forever in the story of human gallantry.

There is no demand for sending and American Expeditionary Force outside of our own borders. There is no intention by any member of your Government to send such a force. You can, therefore, nail any talk about sending annies to Europe as deliberate truth.

Our national policy is not directed toward war. Its sole purpose is to keep war away from our country and our people...

Democracy's fight against world conquest is being greatly aided, and must be more greatly aided, by the rearinament of the United States and by sending every ounce and every ton of munitions and supplies that we can possibly spare to help the defenders who are in the front lines. It is no more unneutral for us to do that than

it is for Sweden, Russia and other nations near Germany, to send steel and ore and oil and other war materials into Germany every day of the week.

We are planning our own defence with the utmost urgency; and in its vast scale we must integrate the war need of Britain and the other free nations which are resisting aggression...

No pessimistic policy about the future of America shall delay the immediate expansion of those industries essential to defence. We need them. It is the purpose of the nation to build now with all possible speed every machine, every arsenal, every factory that we need to manufacture our defence material. We have the menthe skill -the wealth and above all, the will.

I am confident that if and when production of consumer or luxury goods in certain industries requires the use of machines and raw materials that are essential for defence purposes, then such production must yield, and will gladly yield, to our primary and compelling purpose.

I appeal to the owners of plants-to the managersto the workers-to our own Government employees-to put every ounce of effort into producing these munitions swiftly and without stint. With this appeal I give you the pledge that all of us who are officers of your Government will devote ourselves to the same whole-hearted extent to the great task that lies ahead.

As planes and ships and guns and shells are produced, your Government, with its defence experts, can then determine how best to use them to defend this hemisphere. The decision as to how much shall be sent abroad and how much shall remain at home must be made on the basis of our over-all military necessities.

We must be the great arsenal of Democracy. For us this is an emergency as serious as war itself. We must apply ourselves to our task with the same resolution, the same sense of urgency, the same spirit of patriotism and sacrifice as we would show were we at war.


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This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

© Paul Halsall, October 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu