Washington, D.C., July 23, 1942
The conflict now raging throughout the earth is not
a war of nation against nation. It is not a local or regional war or
even a series of such wars. On the side of our enemies, led and driven
by the most ambitious, depraved, and cruel leaders in history, it is
an attempt to conquer and enslave this country and every country. On
our side, the side of the United Nations, it is, for each of us, a life-and-death
struggle for the preservation of our freedom, our homes, our very existence.
We are united in our determination to destroy the worldwide forces of
ruthless conquest and brutal enslavement. Their defeat will restore
freedom or the opportunity for freedom alike to all countries and all
From Berlin and Tokyo the assault on human freedom
has spread in ever-widening circles. In some cases the victim nations
were lulled into inaction by promises or by protestations of peaceful
intention. In other cases they were so intimidated that no preparation
for resistance was made. In all cases the invaders, before armed attack,
set into motion every conceivable device of deceit, subversion, treachery,
and corruption within the borders of the intended victim.
As country after country, in Europe and in Asia, was
attacked in this way, it became clear that no nation anywhere was immune,
that for none was safety to be found in mere desire for peace, in avoidance
of provocation, in neutrality, or in distance from the centers of assault.
Nation after nation learned-too late-that safety against such an attack
lay only in more effective force; in superior will; in concerted action
of all free nations directed toward resisting and defeating the common
enemies; in applying the law of self-defense and self-preservation rather
than in relying upon professions of neutrality, which, in the face of
a world-wide movement to subjugate all nations and all peoples, are
as absurd and as suicidal as are such professions on the part of a citizen
of a peaceful community attacked by a band of confessed outlaws.
Today twenty-eight United Nations are fighting against
the would-be conquerors and enslavers of the human race. We know what
is at stake. By the barbarian invaders of today nothing is spared-neither
life, nor morals, nor honor, nor virtue, nor pledges, nor the customs,
the national institutions, even the religion of any people. Their aim
is to sweep away every vestige of individual and national rights; to
substitute, the world over, their unspeakable tyranny for the ways of
life developed each for itself by the various nations; to make all mankind
subservient to their will; to convert the two billions of the earth's
inhabitants into abject victims and tools of their insatiable lust for
power and dominion.
We have seen their work in the countries they have
invaded-murder of defenseless men, women, and children; rape, torture,
and pillage; mass terrorization; the black system of hostages; the starvation
and deprivations that beggar description; the most thorough-going bondage
the world has ever seen.
This is the so-called "New Order" of Hitler
and the Japanese war lords-an order as old as slavery-new only in the
calculated thoroughness of its cruelty; in the depth of the degradation
to which it subjects its victims; in the degree to which it has revived
the worst practices of the darkest ages in history.
From time immemorial attempts at conquest and enslavement
have checked and harried the great onward march of men and women toward
greater freedom and higher levels of civilized existence. The methods
employed have been the same as those which we witness today. Ruthless,
ambitious men would succeed in corrupting, coercing, or deceiving into
blind obedience enough servile followers to attack or terrify peaceful
and law-abiding peoples, too often unprepared to resist. In a few instances
whole civilizations collapsed under the impact, and darkness descended
on large portions of the world. More often, the attacks were-at great
cost-defeated, and mankind resumed its onward march. Yet throughout
the ages two lessons have remained unlearned.
The first is that man's innate striving for freedom
cannot be extinguished. Since the world began too many men have fought,
suffered, and died for freedom-and not in vain-for doubt to remain on
that score. And yet, over and over again would-be conquerors and enslavers
of mankind have sought to translate their mad dreams of barbarous domination
The second lesson is that liberty is truly won only
when it is guarded by the same watchfulness, the same courage, the same
willingness to fight for it which first secured it. Repeatedly throughout
history, free men-having won the fight, having acquired precious rights
and privileges which freedom brings-have dropped their guard, relaxed
their vigilance, taken their freedom for granted. They have busied themselves
with many things and have not noticed the beginnings of new tyrannies,
the rise of new threats to liberty. They have become so abhorrent of
force and cruelty that they have believed the bully and the gangster
could be reformed by reason and justice or be defeated by passive resistance.
And so they have been surprised and unprepared when the attacks have
It is perhaps too much to expect that tyrants will
ever learn that man's longing for liberty cannot be destroyed. Dreams
of conquest have their roots in diseased mentality. And that malady
may well be ineradicable.
But it is not too much to expect that free men may
learn-and never forget-that lack of vigilance is the greatest danger
to liberty; that enjoyment of liberty is the fruit of willingness to
fight, suffer, and die for it; that the right to freedom cannot be divorced
from the duty of defending it.
This latest assault on human freedom is, in a profound
sense, a searching test for nations and for individuals. There is no
surer way for men and for nations to show themselves unworthy of liberty
than, by supine submission and refusal to fight, to render more difficult
the task of those who are fighting for the preservation of human freedom-unless
it be to align themselves, freely and voluntarily, with the destroyers
of liberty. There is no surer way for men and for nations to show themselves
worthy of liberty than to fight for its preservation, in any way that
is open to them, against those who would destroy it for all.
In the plans of the new tyrants of the East and of
the West, there is no freedom or hope for anyone. If there be some people
who believe that they can expect from Hitler or the Japanese war lords
greater measure of freedom or of opportunity for freedom than they now
possess, they need only look at the firing squads in Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Norway, France, Yugoslavia, at the concentration camps in Germany and
Austria. They need only see the degradation of the forced laborers torn
from every occupied country. They can learn the fraudulent quality of
that brand of "freedom" from the Chinese in Nanking, from
the Filipinos in Manila, from the inhabitants of the East Indies.
There is no chance for liberty for any people anywhere
save through the victory of the free peoples. Never did a plainer duty
to fight against its foes devolve upon all peoples who prize liberty
and all who aspire to it. Never was there such an opportunity for every
people, as have the people of the Philippines, to demonstrate its fitness
both for the rights and the responsibilities of freedom-and, through
proof given of its fitness, to create an overwhelming sentiment in every
country of the world in support of its striving for liberty.
We, Americans, are fighting today because we have
been attacked. We are fighting, as I have said, to preserve our very
existence. We and the other free peoples are forced into a desperate
fight because we did not learn the lessons of which I have spoken. We
are forced to fight because we ignored the simple but fundamental fact
that the price of peace and of the preservation of right and freedom
among nations is the acceptance of international responsibilities.
After the last war too many nations, including our
own, tolerated, or participated in, attempts to advance their own interests
at the expense of any system of collective security and of opportunity
for all. Too many of us were blind to the evils which, thus loosed,
created growing cancers within and among nations-political suspicions
and hatreds; the race of armaments, first stealthy and then the subject
of flagrant boasts; economic nationalism and its train of economic depression
and misery; and finally the emergence from their dark places of the
looters and thugs who found their opportunity in disorder and disaster.
The shadow of a new war fell across the world. War began in 1931 when
Japan invaded China.
From the time when the first signs of menace to the
peace of the world appeared on the horizon, the Government of the United
States strove increasingly to promote peace on the solid foundation
of law, justice, non-intervention, non-aggression, and international
collaboration. With growing insistence we advocated the principles of
a broad and constructive world order in political, economic, social,
moral, and intellectual relations among nations-principles which must
constitute the foundation of any satisfactory future world order. We
practiced these principles in our good-neighbor policy, which was applicable
to every part of the earth and which we sought to apply not alone in
the Western Hemisphere, but in the Pacific area, in Europe, and everywhere
else as well.
When hostilities broke out and wars were declared,
our Government made every honorable and feasible effort to prevent spread
of the conflicts and to safeguard this country against being drawn into
war. But danger increased all around us. Peaceful unoffending countries,
one after another, were brought under the heel of the invader, both
in Europe and in Asia. Hitler and the Japanese war lords, by their acts
and their official declarations have made it plain that the purpose
of the Japanese is to conquer and dominate virtually one-half of the
world with one-half of its population, while Hitler's purpose is, first
to conquer continental Europe, and then to seize the British Isles,
and through control of the British fleet to dominate the seven seas.
Events have demonstrated beyond question that each
of the Axis powers was bent on unlimited conquest. As time went on it
became manifest that the United States and the whole Western Hemisphere
were ultimate targets. Conclusive proof was given by the international
desperadoes themselves through the publication on September 27, 1940
of the Tripartite Pact. By that treaty of alliance Germany, Japan and
Italy in effect agreed that, if any country not then at war with one
of them placed obstacles in the way of the program of conquest of any
of them, the three would unite in political, military, and economic
action against that country. This provision was aimed directly at the
United States. One of the highest official spokesmen of the Axis powers
openly proclaimed that the objective of the three partners was a new
world order to be achieved by force.
Finally a realization that these plans and purposes
created a state of imminent and acute danger to all remaining peaceful
countries, especially to those of the Western Hemisphere, forced us
to face the all-important question as to when and where the peaceful
nations, including ours, should begin to resist the movements of military
aggression in order to make such resistance most effective.
It was in these circumstances that our Government
felt the compelling importance of adopting the policy of aid to Great
Britain and to other nations which resisted aggression, as set forth
in the Lease-Lend Act, submitted to Congress in January 1941. It is
scarcely necessary to say that all subsequent utterances and acts of
the leaders of Germany, Japan, and Italy have fully confirmed the wisdom
and timeliness of the policy of this Government in thus proceeding to
defend the country before it should be too late.
In December 1941, acting in concert, moving in harmony
with their world-wide objective, all three launched their assault against
us, the spearhead of which was at Pearl Harbor, reasoning that to achieve
victory they must conquer us, and to conquer us they must strike before
we were prepared to resist successfully.
When they made this concerted attack against us, the
war lords of Japan and Germany must have believed that at the root of
our sincere and strong desire for peace lay a lack of will and of capacity
to rise in unity of purpose and to pour all our strength and energy
into the battle. They have since begun to learn better at Wake and at
Midway; at Bataan and at Corregidor; in the Straits of Macassar and
in the Coral Sea; from the sky over Tokyo itself; again at Midway; on
and over every ocean of the world traversed by our air fleets and our
naval and merchant vessels; on every battlefield of the world increasingly
supplied with our war materials. They will have final and conclusive
answer from our expanding armies, navies, and air forces, operating
side by side with our valiant allies and backed by our nation-wide industrial
power and the courage, the determination, and the ingenuity of our people.
That answer is being forged in the fighting spirit which now pervades
the people of this country, in the will to victory of all the United
In this vast struggle, we, Americans, stand united
with those who, like ourselves, are fighting for the preservation of
their freedom; with those who are fighting to regain the freedom of
which they have been brutally deprived; with those who are fighting
for the opportunity to achieve freedom.
We have always believed-and we believe today-that
all peoples, without distinction of race, color, or religion, who are
prepared and willing to accept the responsibilities of liberty, are
entitled to its enjoyment. We have always sought-and we seek today-to
encourage and aid all who aspire to freedom to establish their right
to it by preparing themselves to assume its obligations. We have striven
to meet squarely our own responsibility in this respect-in Cuba, in
the Philippines, and wherever else it has devolved upon us. It has been
our purpose in the past-and will remain our purpose in the future-to
use the full measure of our influence to support attainment of freedom
by all peoples who, by their acts, show themselves worthy of it and
ready for it.
We, who have received from the preceding generations
the priceless fruits of the centuries-old struggle for liberty, freely
accept today the sacrifices which may be needed to pass on to our children
an even greater heritage.
Our enemies confront us with armed might in every
part of the globe. We cannot win this war by standing at our borders
and limiting ourselves to beating off attacks. Air, submarine, and other
forms of assault can be effectively defeated only if those attacked
seek out and destroy the sources of attack. We shall send all the aid
that we can to our gallant allies. And we shall seek out our enemies
and attack them at any and every point of the globe at which the destruction
of the Axis forces can be accomplished most effectively, most speedily,
and most certainly.
We know the magnitude of the task before us. We know
that its accomplishment will exact unlimited effort and unfaltering
courage. However long the road we shall press on to the final victory.
Temporary reverses must not and will not be the occasion
for weakness and discouragement. On the contrary, they are the signal
for all true soldiers and patriots to strike back all the harder, with
that superb resolution which never yields to force or threat of force.
Fighting as we are in self-defense, in self-preservation,
we must make certain the defeat and destruction of the world-invading
forces of Hitler and the Japanese war lords. To do this our people and
the peoples of every one of the twenty-eight United Nations must make
up their minds to sacrifice time and substance and life itself to an
extent unprecedented in past history.
International desperadoes like individual bandits
will not abandon outlawry voluntarily. They will only be stopped by
With victory achieved our first concern must be for
those whose sufferings have been almost beyond human endurance. When
the armies of our enemies are beaten, the people of many countries will
be starving and without means of producing food; homeless and without
means of building shelter; their fields scorched; their cattle slaughtered;
their tools gone; their factories and mines destroyed; their roads and
transport wrecked. Unknown millions will be far from their homes-prisoners
of war, inmates of concentration camps, forced laborers in alien lands,
refugees from battle, from cruelty, from starvation. Disease and danger
of disease will lurk everywhere. In some countries confusion and chaos
will follow the cessation of hostilities. Victory must be followed by
swift and effective action to meet these pressing human needs.
At the same time all countries-those which will need
relief and those more fortunate-will be faced with the immediate problems
of transition from war to peace. War production must be transformed
into production for the peacetime needs of man-kind. In some countries
the physical ravages of war must be repaired. In others, agriculture
must be re-established. In all countries returning soldiers must find
places in the work of peace. There will be enormous deficiencies of
many kinds of goods. All countries, including ours, will need an immense
volume of production. There will, therefore, exist vast opportunities
for useful employment. The termination of the war effort will release,
for use in peaceful pursuits, stirring enthusiasms, the aspirations
and energies of youth, technical experience, and-in many industries-ample
plants and abundance of tools. The compelling demands of war are revealing
how great a supply of goods can be produced for national defense. The
needs of peace should be no less compelling, though some of the means
of meeting them must be different. Toward meeting these needs each and
every nation should intensively direct its efforts to the creation of
an abundance for peacetime life. This can only be achieved by a combination
of the efforts of individuals, the efforts of groups, and the efforts
of nations. Governments can and must help to focus the energies by encouraging,
coordinating, and aiding the efforts of individuals and groups.
During this period of transition the United Nations
must continue to act in the spirit of cooperation which now underlies
their war effort-to supplement and make more effective the action of
countries individually in re-establishing public order, in providing
swift relief, in meeting the manifold problems of readjustment.
Beyond these there will lie before all countries the
great constructive task of building human freedom and Christian morality
on firmer and broader foundations than ever before. This task, too,
will of necessity call for both national and international action.
Within each nation liberty under law is an essential
requirement of progress. The spirit of liberty, when deeply imbedded
in the minds and hearts of the people, is the most powerful remedy for
racial animosities, religious intolerance, ignorance, and all the other
evils which prevent men from uniting in a brotherhood of truly civilized
existence. It inspires men to acquisition of knowledge and understanding.
It is the only real foundation of political and social stability.
Liberty is more than a matter of political rights,
indispensable as those rights are. In our own country we have learned
from bitter experience that to be truly free, men must have, as well,
economic freedom and economic security-the assurance for all alike of
an opportunity to work as free men in the company of free men; to obtain
through work the material and spiritual means of life; to advance through
the exercise of ability, initiative, and enterprise; to make provision
against the hazards of human existence. We know that this is true of
mankind everywhere. We know that in all countries there has been-and
there will be increasingly in the future-demand for a forward movement
of social justice. Each of us must be resolved that, once the war is
won, this demand shall be met as speedily and as fully as possible.
All these advances-in political freedom, in economic
betterment, in social justice, in spiritual values-can be achieved by
each nation primarily through its own work and effort, mainly through
its own wise policies and actions. They can be made only where there
is acceptance and cultivation of the concepts and the spirit of human
rights and human freedom. It is impossible for any nation or group of
nations to prescribe the methods or provide the means by which any other
nation can accomplish or maintain its own political and economic independence,
be strong, prosper, and attain high spiritual goals. It is possible,
however, for all nations to give and to receive help.
That which nations can and must do toward helping
one another is to take, by cooperative action, steps for the elimination
of impediments and obstructions which prevent the full use by each-for
the welfare of its people-of the energy and resources which are at its
command. And the nations can and must, again by cooperative action under
common agreement, create such facilities as will enable each to increase
the effectiveness of its own national efforts.
Such cooperative action is already under way. Twenty-eight
United Nations have proclaimed their adherence to a program of principles
and purposes by which mankind may advance toward higher standards of
national and international conduct. That program is embodied in the
Declaration made on August 14, 1941, by President Roosevelt and Prime
Minister Churchill, now known as the Atlantic Charter.
The pledge of the Atlantic Charter is of a system
which will give every nation, large or small, a greater assurance of
stable peace, greater opportunity for the realization of its aspirations
to freedom, and greater facilities for material advancement. But that
pledge implies an obligation for each nation to demonstrate its capacity
for stable and progressive government, to fulfill scrupulously its established
duties to other nations, to settle its international differences and
disputes by none but peaceful methods, and to make its full contribution
to the maintenance of enduring peace.
For decades all nations have lived in the shadow of
threatened coercion or war. This has imposed heavy burdens of armament,
which in the cases of many nations has absorbed so large a part of their
production effort as to leave the remainder of their resources inadequate
for maintaining, let alone improving, the economic, social, and cultural
standards of their people. Closely related to this has been a burden
less obvious but of immense weight-the inevitable limitation that fear
of war imposes on productive activity. Many men, groups of men, and
even nations have dared not plan, create, or increase the means of production,
fearing lest war come and their efforts thus be rendered in vain.
No nation can make satisfactory progress while its
citizens are in the grip of constant fear of external attack or interference.
It is plain that some international agency must be created which can-by
force, if necessary-keep the peace among nations in the future. There
must be international cooperative action to set up the mechanisms which
can thus insure peace. This must include eventual adjustment of national
armaments in such a manner that the rule of law cannot be successfully
challenged and that the burden of armaments may be reduced to a minimum.
In the creation of such mechanisms there would be
a practical and purposeful application of sovereign powers through measures
of international cooperation for purposes of safeguarding the peace.
Participation by all nations in such measures would be for each its
contribution toward its own future security and safety from outside
Settlement of disputes by peaceful means, and indeed
all processes of international cooperation, presuppose respect for law
and obligations. It is plain that one of the institutions which must
be established and be given vitality is an international court of justice.
It is equally clear that, in the process of re-establishing international
order, the United Nations must exercise surveillance over aggressor
nations until such time as the latter demonstrate their willingness
and ability to live at peace with other nations. How long such surveillance
will need to continue must depend upon the rapidity with which the peoples
of Germany, Japan, Italy, and their satellites give convincing proof
that they have repudiated and abandoned the monstrous philosophy of
superior race and conquest by force and have embraced loyally the basic
principles of peaceful processes. During the formative period of the
world organization, interruption by these aggressors must be rendered
One of the greatest of all obstacles which in the
past have impeded human progress and afforded breeding grounds for dictators
has been extreme nationalism. All will agree that nationalism and its
spirit are essential to the healthy and normal political and economic
life of a people, but when policies of nationalism-political, economic,
social, and moral-are carried to such extremes as to exclude and prevent
necessary policies of international cooperation, they become dangerous
and deadly. Nationalism, run riot between the last war and this war,
defeated all attempts to carry out indispensable measures of international
economic and political action, encouraged and facilitated the rise of
dictators, and drove the world straight toward the present war.
During this period narrow and short-sighted nationalism
found its most virulent expression in the economic field. It prevented
goods and services from flowing in volume at all adequate from nation
to nation and thus severely hampered the work of production, distribution
and consumption, and greatly retarded efforts for social betterment.
No nation can make satisfactory progress when it is
deprived, by its own action or by the action of others, of the immeasurable
benefits of international exchange of goods and services. The Atlantic
Charter declares the right of all nations to "access, on equal
terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are
needed for their economic prosperity." This is essential if the
legitimate and growing demand for the greatest practicable measure of
stable employment is to be met, accompanied by rising standards of living.
If the actual and potential losses resulting from limitations on economic
activity are to be eliminated, a system must be provided by which this
can be assured.
In order to accomplish this, and to establish among
the nations a circle of mutual benefit, excessive trade barriers of
the many different kinds must be reduced, and practices which impose
injuries on others and divert trade from its natural economic course
must be avoided. Equally plain is the need for making national currencies
once more freely exchangeable for each other at stable rates of exchange;
for a system of financial relations so devised that materials can be
produced and ways may be found of moving them where there are markets
created by human need; for machinery through which capital may-for the
development of the world's resources and for the stabilization of economic
activity-move on equitable terms from financially stronger to financially
weaker countries. There may be need for some special trade arrangement
and for international agreements to handle difficult surplus problems
and to meet situations in special areas.
These are only some of the things that nations can
attempt to do as continuous discussion and experience instruct the judgment.
There are bound to be many others. But the new policies should always
be guided by cautious and sound judgment lest we make new mistakes in
place of old ones and create new conflicts.
Building for the future in the economic sphere thus
means that each nation must give substance and reality to programs of
social and economic progress by augmenting production and using the
greater output for the increase of general welfare; but not permitting
it to be diverted or checked by special interests, private or public.
It also means that each nation must play its full part in a system of
world relations designed to facilitate the production and movement of
goods in response to human needs.
With peace among nations reasonably assured, with
political stability established, with economic shackles removed, a vast
fund of resources will be released in each nation to meet the needs
of progress, to make possible for all of its citizens an advancement
toward higher living standards, to invigorate the constructive forces
of initiative and enterprise. The nations of the world will then be
able to go forward in the manner of their own choosing in all avenues
of human betterment more completely than they ever have been able to
do in the past. They will do so through their own efforts and with complete
self-respect. Continuous self-development of nations and individuals
in a framework of effective cooperation with others is the sound and
logical road to the higher standards of life which we all crave and
No nation will find this easy. Neither victory nor
any form of post-war settlement will of itself create a millennium.
Rather we shall be offered an opportunity to eliminate vast obstacles
and wastes, to make available additional means of advancing national
and international standards, to create new facilities whereby the natural
resources of the earth and the products of human hands and brains can
be more effectively utilized for the promotion of human welfare.
To make full use of this opportunity, we must be resolved
not alone to proclaim the blessings and benefits which we all alike
desire for humanity but to find the mechanisms by which they may be
most fully and most speedily attained and be most effectively safeguarded.
The manifold tasks that lie ahead will not be accomplished
overnight. There will be need for plans, developed with careful consideration
and carried forward boldly and vigorously. The vision, the resolution,
and the skill with which the conditions of peace will be established
and developed after the war will be as much a measure of man's capacity
for freedom and progress as the fervor and determination which men show
in winning the victory.
Without impediment to the fullest prosecution of the
war-indeed for its most effective prosecution-the United Nations should
from time to time, as they did in adopting the Atlantic Charter, formulate
and proclaim their common views regarding fundamental policies which
will chart for mankind a wise course based on enduring spiritual values.
In support of such policies an informed public opinion must be developed.
This is a task of intensive study, hard thinking, broad vision, and
leadership-not for governments alone, but for parents, and teachers,
and clergymen, and all those, within each nation, who provide spiritual,
moral, and intellectual guidance. Never did so great and so compelling
a duty in this respect devolve upon those who are in positions of responsibility,
public and private.
For the immediate present the all-important issue is
that of winning the war-winning it as soon as possible and winning it
decisively. Into that we must put our utmost effort-now and every day
until victory is won.
A bitter armed attack on human freedom has aroused
mankind to new heights of courage, determination, and moral strength.
It has evoked a spirit of work, sacrifice, and cooperative effort. With
that strength and with that spirit we shall win.