The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Here are some striking examples taken from a large number:

Since 1933 we have actually purchased 5,640 airplanes, including
the most modern type of long-range bombers and fast pursuit planes,
though, of course, many of these which were delivered four, five,
six or seven years ago have worn out through use and been scrapped.

We must remember that these planes cost money–a lot of it. For
example, one modern four-engine long-range bombing plane costs
$350,000; one modern interceptor pursuit plane costs $133,000; one
medium bomber costs $160,000.

In 1933 we had only 355 anti-aircraft guns. We now have more than
1,700 modern anti-craft guns of all types on hand or on order. And
you ought to know that a three-inch anti-aircraft gun costs $40,000
without any of the fire control equipment that goes with it.

In 1933 there were only 24 modern infantry mortars in the entire
Army. We now have on hand and on order more than 1,600.

In 1933 we had only 48 modern tanks and armored cars; today we have
on hand and on order 1,700. Each one of our heavier tanks costs
$46,000.

There are many other items in which our progress since 1933 has
been rapid. And the great proportion of this advance consists of
really modern equipment.

In 1933, on the personnel side we had 1,263 Army pilots. Today the
Army alone has more than 3,000 of the best fighting flyers in the
world, flyers who last year flew more than one million hours in
combat training. That figure does not include the hundreds of
splendid pilots in the national Guard and in the organized
reserves.

Within the past year the productive capacity of the aviation
industry to produce military planes has been tremendously
increased. In the past year the capacity more than doubled, but
that capacity is still inadequate. However, the government, working
with industry, is determined to increase that capacity to meet our
needs. We intend to harness the efficient machinery of these
manufacturers to the government’s program of being able to get
50,000 planes a year.

One additional word about aircraft, about which we read so much.
Recent wars, including the current war in Europe, have demonstrated
beyond doubt that fighting efficiency depends on unity of command,
unity of control.

In sea operations the airplane is just as much an integral part of
the unity of operations as are the submarine, the destroyer and the
battleship, and in land warfare the airplane is just as much a part
of military operations as are the tank corps, the engineers, the
artillery or the infantry itself. Therefore, the air forces should
continue to be part of the Army and Navy.

In line with my request the Congress, this week, is voting the
largest appropriation ever asked by the Army or the Navy in
peacetime, and the equipment and training provided for them will be
in addition to the figures I have given you.

The world situation may so change that it will be necessary to
reappraise our program at any time. And in such case I am confident
that the Congress and the Chief Executive will work in harmony as a
team as they are doing today.

I will not hesitate at any moment to ask for additional funds when
they are required.

In this era of swift, mechanized warfare, we all have to remember
that what is modern today and up-to-date, what is efficient and
practical, becomes obsolete and outworn tomorrow.

Even while the production line turns out airplanes, new airplanes
are being designed on the drafting table.

Even as a cruiser slides down the launching ways, plans for
improvement, plans for increased efficiency in the next model, are
taking shape in the blueprints of designers.

Every day’s fighting in Europe, on land, on sea, and in the air,
discloses constant changes in methods of warfare. We are constantly
improving and redesigning, testing new weapons, learning the
lessons of the immediate war, and seeking to produce in accordance
with the latest that the brains of science can conceive.

We are calling upon the resources, the efficiency and the ingenuity
of the American manufacturers of war material of all kinds–
airplanes and tanks and guns and ships, and all the hundreds of
products that go into this material. The government of the United
States itself manufactures few of the implements of war. Private
industry will continue to be the source of most of this materiel,
and private industry will have to be speeded up to produce it at
the rate and efficiency called for by the needs of the times.

I know that private business cannot be expected to make all of the
capital investment required for expansions of plants and factories
and personnel which this program calls for at once. It would be
unfair to expect industrial corporations or their investors to do
this, when there is a chance that a change in international affairs
may stop or curtail future orders a year or two hence.

Therefore, the government of the United States stands ready to
advance the necessary money to help provide for the enlargement of
factories, the establishment of new plants, the employment of
thousands of necessary workers, the development of new sources of
supply for the hundreds of raw materials required, the development
of quick mass transportation of supplies. And the details of all of
this are now being worked out in Washington, day and night.

We are calling on men now engaged in private industry to help us in
carrying out this program and you will hear more of this in detail
in the next few days.

This does not mean that the men we call upon will be engaged in the
actual production of this materiel. That will still have to be
carried on in the plants and factories throughout the land. Private
industry will have the responsibility of providing the best,
speediest and most efficient mass production of which it is
capable. The functions of the businessmen whose assistance we are
calling upon will be to coordinate this program–to see to it that
all of the plants continue to operate at maximum speed and
efficiency.

Patriotic Americans of proven merit and of unquestioned ability in
their special fields are coming to Washington to help the
government with their training, their experience and their
capability.

It is our purpose not only to speed up production but to increase
the total facilities of the nation in such a way that they can be
further enlarged to meet emergencies of the future.

But as this program proceeds there are several things we must
continue to watch and safeguard, things which are just as important
to the sound defense of a nation as physical armament itself. While
our Navy and our airplanes and our guns and our ships may be our
first line of defense, it is still clear that way down at the
bottom, underlying them all, giving them their strength, sustenance
and power, are the spirit and morale of a free people.

For that reason, we must make sure, in all that we do, that there
be no breakdown or cancellation of any of the great social gains
which we have made in these past years. We have carried on an
offensive on a broad front against social and economic inequalities
and abuses which had made our society weak. That offensive should
not now be broken down by the pincers movement of those who would
use the present needs of physical military defense to destroy it.

There is nothing in our present emergency to justify making the
workers of our nation toil for longer hours than now limited by
statute. As more orders come in and as more work has to be done,
tens of thousands of people, who are now unemployed, will, I
believe, receive employment.

There is nothing in our present emergency to justify a lowering of
the standards of employment. Minimum wages should not be reduced.
It is my hope, indeed, that the new speed-up of production will
cause many businesses which now pay below the minimum standards to
bring their wages up.

There is nothing in our present emergency to justify a breaking
down of old age pensions or of unemployment insurance. I would
rather see the systems extended to other groups who do not now
enjoy them.

There is nothing in our present emergency to justify a retreat from
any of our social objectives–from conservation of natural
resources, assistance to agriculture, housing, and help to the
underprivileged.

Conversely, however, I am sure that responsible leaders will not
permit some specialized group, which represents a minority of the
total employees of a plant or an industry, to break up the
continuity of employment of the majority of the employees. Let us
remember that the policy and the laws that provide for collective
bargaining are still in force. I can assure you that labor will be
adequately represented in Washington in the carrying out of this
program of defense.

Also, our present emergency and a common sense of decency make it
imperative that no new group of war millionaires shall come into
being in this nation as a result of the struggles abroad. The
American people will not relish the idea of any American citizen
growing rich and fat in an emergency of blood and slaughter and
human suffering.

And, last of all, this emergency demands that the consumers of
America be protected so that our general cost of living can be
maintained at a reasonable level. We ought to avoid the spiral
processes of the World War, the rising spiral of costs of all
kinds. The soundest policy is for every employer in the country to
help give useful employment to the millions who are unemployed. By
giving to those millions an increased purchasing power, the
prosperity of the whole nation will rise to a much higher level.

Today’s threat to our national security is not a matter of military
weapons alone. We know of new methods of attack.

The Trojan Horse. The Fifth Column that betrays a nation unprepared
for treachery.

Spies, saboteurs and traitors are the actors in this new strategy.
With all of these we must and will deal vigorously.

But there is an added technique for weakening a nation at its very
roots, for disrupting the entire pattern of life of a people. And
it is important that we understand it.

The method is simple. It is, first, a dissemination of discord. A
group–not too large–a group that may be sectional or racial or
political–is encouraged to exploit its prejudices through false
slogans and emotional appeals. The aim of those who deliberately
egg on these groups is to create confusion of counsel, public
indecision, political paralysis and eventually, a state of panic.

Sound national policies come to be viewed with a new and
unreasoning skepticism, not through the wholesome political debates
of honest and free men, but through the clever schemes of foreign
agents.

As a result of these new techniques, armament programs may be
dangerously delayed. Singleness of national purpose may be
undermined. Men can lose confidence in each other, and therefore
lose confidence in the efficacy of their own united action. Faith
and courage can yield to doubt and fear. The unity of the State can
be so sapped that its strength is destroyed.

All this is no idle dream. It has happened time after time, in
nation after nation, during the last two years. Fortunately,
American men and women are not easy dupes. Campaigns of group
hatred or class struggle have never made much headway among us, and
are not making headway now. But new forces are being unleashed,
deliberately planned propaganda to divide and weaken us in the face
of danger as other nations have been weakened before.

These dividing forces are undiluted poison. They must not be
allowed to spread in the New World as they have in the Old. Our
morale and our mental defenses must be raised up as never before
against those who would cast a smokescreen across our vision.

The development of our defense program makes it essential that each
and every one of us, men and women, feel that we have some
contribution to make toward the security of our nation.

At this time, when the world–and the world includes our own
American Hemisphere–when the world is threatened by forces of
destruction, it is my resolve and yours to build up our armed
defenses.

We shall build them to whatever heights the future may require.

We shall rebuild them swiftly, as the methods of warfare swiftly
change.

For more than three centuries we Americans have been building on
this continent a free society, a society in which the promise of
the human spirit may find fulfillment. Commingled here are the
blood and genius of all the peoples of the world who have sought
this promise.

We have built well. We are continuing our efforts to bring the
blessings of a free society, of a free and productive economic
system, to every family in the land. This is the promise of
America.

It is this that we must continue to build–this that we must
continue to defend.

It is the task of our generation, yours and mine. But we build and
defend not for our generation alone. We defend the foundations laid
down by our fathers. We build a life for generations yet unborn. We
defend and we build a way of life, not for America alone, but for
all mankind. Ours is a high duty, a noble task.

Day and night I pray for the restoration of peace in this mad world
of ours. It is not necessary that I, the President, ask the
American people to pray in behalf of such a cause–for I know you
are praying with me.

I am certain that out of the hearts of every man, woman and child
in this land, in every waking minute, a supplication goes up to
Almighty God; that all of us beg that suffering and starving, that
death and destruction may end–and that peace may return to the
world. In common affection for all mankind, your prayers join with
mine–that God will heal the wounds and the hearts of humanity.

September 11, 1941.

My Fellow Americans:

The Navy Department of the United States has reported to me that on
the morning of September fourth the United States destroyer GREER,
proceeding in full daylight towards Iceland, had reached a point
southeast of Greenland. She was carrying American mail to Iceland.
She was flying the American flag. Her identity as an American ship
was unmistakable.

She was then and there attacked by a submarine. Germany admits that
it was a German submarine. The submarine deliberately fired a
torpedo at the GREER, followed later by another torpedo attack. In
spite of what Hitler’s propaganda bureau has invented, and in spite
of what any American obstructionist organization may prefer to
believe, I tell you the blunt fact that the German submarine fired
first upon this American destroyer without warning, and with
deliberate design to sink her.

Our destroyer, at the time, was in waters which the government of
the United States had declared to be waters of self-defense–
surrounding outposts of American protection in the Atlantic.

In the North of the Atlantic, outposts have been established by us
in Iceland, in Greenland, in Labrador and in Newfoundland. Through
these waters there pass many ships of many flags. They bear food
and other supplies to civilians; and they bear material of war, for
which the people of the United States are spending billions of
dollars, and which, by Congressional action, they have declared to
be essential for the defense of our own land.

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