Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Pearl Harbor” Speech

(1941)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his “Pearl Harbor” Speech to both houses of Congress on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese air force had attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. In the speech, Roosevelt set out the case for entering World War II. By this time, World War II was well under way, but the United States was only indirectly involved. The attack devastated the U.S. Pacific Fleet in less than two hours. More than 2,500 Americans died, five battleships were sunk, three destroyers were wrecked, and several other ships would have to be put out of commission; of the eight battleships in the harbor, not one was deemed seaworthy after the attack. Only three of the Pacific Fleet's aircraft carriers—those not stationed at Pearl Harbor—escaped the onslaught.

In his “Pearl Harbor” Speech, Roosevelt pointed out that the United States had been at peace with Japan and had been consulting with that nation about ways to...

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the declaration of war against Japan, December 8, 1941 (Library of Congress)

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