WARM AND COZY RADIO MESSAGES FROM
YOUR PRESIDENT -
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT'S FIRESIDE
Arsenal of Democracy
Go here for more about
Go here for more about FDR's 16th Fireside Chat,
of Democracy speech.
Photo above: Franklin D.
Roosevelt having a fireside chat in Washington D.C., April
28, 1935 - Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential
Library and Museum.
It follows the full text transcript of
Franklin D. Roosevelt's 16th fireside chat, his
Arsenal of Democracy speech, broadcast from the White House,
Washington D.C. - December 29, 1940.
This is not a
fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national
security; because the nub of the whole purpose
of your President is to keep you now; and your
children later, and your grandchildren much
later, out of a last-ditch war for the
preservation of American independence and all of
the things that American independence means to
you and to me and to ours.
Tonight, in the presence of a world crisis, my
mind goes back eight years ago to a night in the
midst of a domestic crisis. It was a time when
the wheels of American industry were grinding to
a full stop, when the whole banking system of
our country had ceased to function.
I well remember that while I sat in my study in
the White House, preparing to talk with the
people of the United States, I had before my
eyes the picture of all those Americans with
whom I was talking. I saw the workmen in the
mills, the mines, the factories; the girl behind
the counter; the small shopkeeper; the farmer
doing his spring plowing; the widows and the old
men wondering about their life's savings.
I tried to convey to the great mass of American
people what the banking crisis meant to them in
their daily lives.
Tonight, I want to do the same thing, with the
same people, in this new crisis which faces
We met the issue of 1933 with courage and
We face this new crisis-this new threat to the
security of our Nation-with the same courage and
Never before since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock
has our American civilization been in such
danger as now.
For, on September 27, 1940, by an agreement
signed in Berlin, three powerful nations, two in
Europe and one in Asia, joined themselves
together in the threat that if the United States
interfered with or blocked the expansion program
of these three nations-a program aimed at world
control-they would unite in ultimate action
against the United States.
The Nazi masters of Germany have made it clear
that they intend not only to dominate all life
and thought in their own country, but also to
enslave the whole of Europe, and then to use the
resources of Europe to dominate the rest of the
Three weeks ago their leader stated, "There are
two worlds that stand opposed to each other."
Then in defiant reply to his opponents, he said
this: "Others are correct when they say: `With
this world we cannot ever reconcile ourselves.'
. . . I can beat any other power in the world."
So said the leader of the Nazis.
In other words, the Axis not merely admits but
proclaims that there can be no ultimate peace
between their philosophy of government and our
philosophy of government.
In view of the nature of this undeniable threat,
it can be asserted, properly and categorically,
that the United States has no right or reason to
encourage talk of peace until the day shall come
when there is a clear intention on the part of
the aggressor nations to abandon all thought of
dominating or conquering the world.
At this moment, the forces of the states that
are leagued against all peoples who live in
freedom are being held away from our shores. The
Germans and Italians are being blocked on the
other side of the Atlantic by the British, and
by the Greeks, and by thousands of soldiers and
sailors who were able to escape from subjugated
countries. The Japanese are being engaged in
Asia by the Chinese in another great defense.
In the Pacific is our fleet.
Some of our people like to believe that wars in
Europe and in Asia are of no concern to us. But
it is a matter of most vital concern to us that
European and Asiatic war-makers should not gain
control of the oceans which lead to this
One hundred and seventeen years ago the Monroe
Doctrine was conceived by our Government as a
measure of defense in the face of a threat
against this hemisphere by an alliance in
continental Europe. Thereafter, we stood on
guard in the Atlantic, with the British as
neighbors. There was no treaty. There was no
Yet, there was the feeling, proven correct by
history, that we as neighbors could settle any
disputes in peaceful fashion. The fact is that
during the whole of this time the Western
Hemisphere has remained free from aggression
from Europe or from Asia.
Does anyone seriously believe that we need to
fear attack while a free Britain remains our
most powerful naval neighbor in the Atlantic?
Does any one seriously believe, on the other
hand, that we could rest easy if the Axis powers
were our neighbor there?
If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will
control the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa,
Australasia, and the high seas--and they will be
in a position to bring enormous military and
naval resources against this hemisphere. It is
no exaggeration to say that all of us in the
Americas would be living at the point of a gun-a
gun loaded with explosive bullets, economic as
well as military.
We should enter upon a new and terrible era in
which the whole world, our hemisphere included,
would be run by threats of brute force. To
survive in such a world, we would have to
convert ourselves permanently into a
militaristic power on the basis of war economy.
Some of us like to believe that. even if Great
Britain falls, we are still safe, because of the
broad expanse of the Atlantic and of the
But the width of these oceans is not what it was
in the days of clipper ships. At one point
between Africa and Brazil the distance is less
than from Washington to Denver-five hours for
the latest type of bomber. And at the, north of
the Pacific Ocean, America and Asia almost touch
Even today we have planes which could fly from
the British Isles to New England and back
without refueling. And the range of the modern
bomber is ever being increased.
During the past week many people in all parts of
the Nation have told me what they wanted me to
say tonight. Almost all of them expressed a
courageous desire to hear the plain truth about
the gravity of the situation. One telegram,
however, expressed the attitude of the ,small
minority who want to see no evil and hear no
evil, even though they know in their hearts that
evil exists. That telegram begged me not to tell
again of the ease with which our American cities
could be bombed by any hostile power which had
gained bases in this Western Hemisphere. The
gist of that telegram was: "Please, Mr.
President, don't frighten us by telling us the
Frankly and definitely there is danger
ahead-danger against which we must prepare. But
we well know that we cannot escape danger, or
the fear of it, by crawling into bed and pulling
the covers over our heads.
Some nations of Europe were bound by solemn
non-intervention pacts with Germany. Other
nations were assured by Germany that they need
never fear invasion. Non-intervention pact or
not, the fact remains that they were attacked,
overrun, and thrown into the modern form of
slavery at an hour's notice or even without any
notice at all. As an exiled leader of one of
these nations said to me the other day: "The
notice was a minus quantity. It was given to my
government two hours after German troops had
poured into my country in a hundred places."
The fate of these nations tells us what it means
to live at the point of a Nazi gun.
The Nazis have justified such actions by various
pious frauds. One of these frauds is the claim
that they are occupying a nation for the purpose
of "restoring order". Another is that they are
occupying or controlling a nation on the excuse
that they are "protecting it" against the
aggression of somebody else.
For example, Germany has said that she was
occupying Belgium to save the Belgians from the
British. Would she hesitate to say to any South
American country, "We are occupying you to
protect you from aggression by the United
Belgium today is being used as an invasion base
against Britain, now fighting for its life. Any
South American country, in Nazi hands, would
always constitute a jumping-off place for German
attack on any one of the other republics of this
Analyze for yourselves the future of two other
places even nearer to Germany if the Nazis won.
Could Ireland hold out? Would Irish freedom be
permitted as an amazing exception in an unfree
world? Or the islands of the Azores which still
fly the flag of Portugal after five centuries?
We think of Hawaii as an outpost of defense in
the Pacific. Yet, the Azores are closer to our
shores in the Atlantic than Hawaii is on the
There are those who say that the Axis powers
would never have any desire to attack the
Western Hemisphere. This is the same dangerous
form of wishful thinking which has destroyed the
powers of resistance of so many conquered
peoples. The plain facts are that the Nazis have
proclaimed, time and again, that all other races
are their inferiors and therefore subject to
their orders. And most important of all, the
vast resources and wealth of this hemisphere
constitute the most tempting loot in all the
Let us no longer blind ourselves to the
undeniable fact that the evil forces which have
crushed and undermined and corrupted so many
others are already within our own gates. Your
Government knows much about them and every day
is ferreting them out.
Their secret emissaries are active in our own
and neighboring countries. They seek to stir up
suspicion and dissension to cause internal
strife. They try to turn capital against labor
and vice versa. They try to reawaken long
slumbering racial and religious enmities which
should have no place in this country. They are
active in every group that promotes intolerance.
They exploit for their own ends our natural
abhorrence of war. These trouble-breeders have
but one purpose. It is to divide our people into
hostile groups and to destroy our unity and
shatter our will to defend ourselves.
There are also American citizens, many of them
in high places, who, unwittingly in most cases,
are aiding and abetting the work of these
agents. I do not charge these American citizens
with being foreign agents. But I do charge them
with doing exactly the kind of work that the
dictators want done in the United States.
These people not only believe that we can save
our own skins by shutting our eyes to the fate
of other nations. Some of them go much further
than that. They say that we can and should
become the friends and even the partners of the
Axis powers. Some of them even suggest that we
should imitate the methods of the dictatorships.
Americans never can and never will do that.
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
Even the people of Italy have been forced to
become accomplices of he Nazis; but at this
moment they do not know how soon they will e
embraced to death by their allies.
The American appeasers ignore the warning to be
found in the ate of Austria, Czechoslovakia.,
Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Denmark, and France. They tell you that the Axis
powers re going to win anyway; that all this
bloodshed in the world could be saved; and that
the United States might just as well throw its
influence into the scale of a dictated peace,
and get the best out of it that we can.
They call it a "negotiated peace". Nonsense! Is
it a negotiated peace if a gang of outlaws
surrounds your community and on threat of
extermination makes you pay tribute to save your
Such a dictated peace would be no peace at all.
It would be only another armistice, leading to
the most gigantic armament race and the most
devastating trade wars in history. And in these
contests the Americas would offer the only real
resistance to the Axis powers.
With all their vaunted efficiency and parade of
pious purpose in his war, there are still in
their background the concentration camp and the
servants of God in chains.
The history of recent years proves that
shootings and chains and concentration camps are
not simply the transient tools but the very
altars of modern dictatorships. They may talk of
a "new order" in he world, but what they have in
mind is but a revival of the oldest end the
worst tyranny. In that there is no liberty, no
religion, no hope.
The proposed "new order" is the very opposite of
a United States if Europe or a United States of
Asia. It is not a government based upon the
consent of the governed. It is not a union of
ordinary, self-respecting men and women to
protect themselves and their freedom and their
dignity from oppression. It is an unholy
alliance of power and pelf to dominate and
enslave the human race.
The British people are conducting an active war
against this unholy alliance. Our own future
security is greatly dependent on the outcome of
that fight. Our ability to "keep out of war" is
going to be affected by that outcome.
Thinking in terms of today and tomorrow, I make
the direct statement to the American people that
there is far less chance of the United States
getting into war if we do all we can now to
support the nations defending themselves against
attack by the Axis than if we acquiesce in their
defeat, submit tamely to an Axis victory, and
wait our turn to be the object of attack in
another war later on.
If we are to be completely honest with
ourselves, we must admit there is risk in any
course we may take. But I deeply believe that
the great majority of our people agree that the
course that I advocate involves the least risk
now and the greatest hope for world peace in the
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 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 defeatists tell us that it is too late.
It will never be earlier. Tomorrow will be later
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 an American
Expeditionary Force outside 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 armies to
Europe as deliberate untruth.
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 rearmament 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.
We are planning our own defense with the utmost
urgency; and in its vast scale we must integrate
the war needs of Britain and the other free
nations resisting aggression.
This is not a matter of sentiment or of
controversial personal opinion. It is a matter
of realistic military policy, based on the
advice of our military experts who are in close
touch with existing warfare. These military and
naval experts and the members of the Congress
and the administration have a single-minded
purpose-the defense of the United States.
This Nation is making a great effort to produce
everything that is necessary in this
emergency-and with all possible speed. This
great effort requires great sacrifice.
I would ask no one to defend a democracy which
in turn would not defend everyone in the Nation
against want and privation. The strength of this
Nation shall not be diluted by the failure of
the Government to protect the economic
well-being of all citizens.
If our capacity to produce is limited by
machines, it must ever be remembered that these
machines are operated by the skill and the
stamina of the workers. As the Government is
determined to protect the rights of workers, so
the Nation has a right to expect that the men
who man the machines will discharge their full
responsibilities to the urgent needs of defense.
The worker possesses the same human dignity and
is entitled to the same security of position as
the engineer or manager or owner. For the
workers provide the human power that turns out
the destroyers, the airplanes, and the tanks.
The Nation expects our defense industries to
continue operation without interruption by
strikes or lock-outs. It expects and insists
that management and workers will reconcile their
differences by voluntary or legal means, to
continue to produce the supplies that are so
And on the economic side of our great defense
program, we are, as you know, bending every
effort to maintain stability of prices and with
that the stability of the cost of living.
Nine days ago I announced the setting up of a
more effective organization to direct our
gigantic efforts to increase the production of
munitions. The appropriation of vast sums of
money and a well-coordinated executive direction
of our defense efforts are not in themselves
enough. Guns, planes, and ships have to be built
in the factories and arsenals of America. They
have to be produced by workers and managers and
engineers with the aid of machines, which in
turn have to be built by hundreds of thousands
of workers throughout the land.
In this great work there has been splendid
cooperation between the Government and industry
American industrial genius, unmatched throughout
the world in the solution of production
problems, has been called upon to bring its
resources and talents into action. Manufacturers
of watches, of farm implements, linotypes, cash
registers, automobiles, sewing machines, lawn
mowers, and locomotives are now making fuses,
bomb-packing crates, telescope mounts, shells,
pistols, and tanks.
But all our present efforts are not enough. We
must have more ships, more guns, more
planes-more of everything. This can only be
accomplished if we discard the notion of
"business as usual". This job cannot be done
merely by superimposing on the existing
productive facilities the added requirements for
Our defense efforts must not be blocked by those
who fear the future consequences of surplus
plant capacity. The possible consequence of
failure of our defense efforts now are much more
to be feared.
After the present needs of our defense are past,
a proper handling of the country's peacetime
needs will require all of the new productive
capacity-if not more.
No pessimistic policy about the future of
America shall delay the immediate expansion of
those industries essential to defense.
I want to make it clear that it is the purpose
of the Nation to build now with all possible
speed every machine and arsenal and factory that
we need to manufacture our defense material. We
have the men the 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
essential for defense purposes, then such
production must yield to our primary and
I appeal to the owners of plants, to the
managers, to the workers, to our own Government
employees, to put every ounce of effort into
producing these munitions swiftly and without
stint. And with this appeal I give you the
pledge that all of us who are officers of you
Government will devote ourselves to the same
wholehearted extent to the great task which lies
As planes and ships and guns and shells are
produced, your Government, with its defense
experts, can then determine how best to us 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
overall 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.
We have furnished the British great material
support and we will furnish far more in the
There will be no "bottlenecks" in our
determination to aid Great Britain. No dictator,
no combination of dictators, will weaken that
determination by threats of how they will
construe that determination.
The British have received invaluable military
support from the heroic Greek Army and from the
forces of all the governments in exile. Their
strength is growing. It is the strength of men
an women who value their freedom more highly
than they value the: lives.
I believe that the Axis powers are not going to
win this war. I base that belief on the latest
and best information.
We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every
good reason for hope-hope for peace, hope for
the defense of our civilization and for the
building of a better civilization in the future.
I have the profound conviction that the American
people are now determined to put forth a
mightier effort than they have ever yet made to
increase our production of all the implements of
defense, to meet the threat to our democratic
As President of the United States I call for
that national effort. I call for it in the name
of this Nation which we love and honor and which
we are privileged and proud to serve. I call
upon our people with absolute confidence that
our common cause will greatly succeed.