The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The Malayan Peninsula and Singapore are in the hands of the enemy;
the Netherlands East Indies are almost entirely occupied, though
resistance there continues. Many other islands are in the
possession of the Japanese. But there is good reason to believe
that their southward advance has been checked. Australia, New
Zealand, and much other territory will be bases for offensive
action–and we are determined that the territory that has been lost
will be regained.

The Japanese are pressing their northward advance against Burma
with considerable power, driving toward India and China. They have
been opposed with great bravery by small British and Chinese forces
aided by American fliers.

The news in Burma tonight is not good. The Japanese may cut the
Burma Road; but I want to say to the gallant people of China that
no matter what advances the Japanese may make, ways will be found
to deliver airplanes and munitions of war to the armies of
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

We remember that the Chinese people were the first to stand up and
fight against the aggressors in this war; and in the future a still
unconquerable China will play its proper role in maintaining peace
and prosperity, not only in Eastern Asia but in the whole world.

For every advance that the Japanese have made since they started
their frenzied career of conquest, they have had to pay a very
heavy toll in warships, in transports, in planes, and in men. They
are feeling the effects of those losses.

It is even reported from Japan that somebody has dropped bombs on
Tokyo, and on other principal centers of Japanese war industries.
If this be true, it is the first time in history that Japan has
suffered such indignities.

Although the treacherous attack on Pearl Harbor was the immediate
cause of our entry into the war, that event found the American
people spiritually prepared for war on a world-wide scale. We went
into this war fighting. We know what we are fighting for. We
realize that the war has become what Hitler originally proclaimed
it to be–a total war.

Not all of us can have the privilege of fighting our enemies in
distant parts of the world.

Not all of us can have the privilege of working in a munitions
factory or a shipyard, or on the farms or in oil fields or mines,
producing the weapons or the raw materials that are needed by our
armed forces.

But there is one front and one battle where everyone in the United
States–every man, woman, and child–is in action, and will be
privileged to remain in action throughout this war. That front is
right here at home, in our daily lives, and in our daily tasks.
Here at home everyone will have the privilege of making whatever
self-denial is necessary, not only to supply our fighting men, but
to keep the economic structure of our country fortified and secure
during the war and after the war. This will require, of course, the
abandonment not only of luxuries but of many other creature

Every loyal American is aware of his individual responsibility.
Whenever I hear anyone saying “The American people are complacent–
they need to be aroused,” I feel like asking him to come to
Washington to read the mail that floods into the White House and
into all departments of this government. The one question that
recurs through all these thousands of letters and messages is “What
more can I do to help my country in winning this war”?

To build the factories, to buy the materials, to pay the labor, to
provide the transportation, to equip and feed and house the
soldiers, sailors and marines, and to do all the thousands of
things necessary in a war–all cost a lot of money, more money than
has ever been spent by any nation at any time in the long history
of the world.

We are now spending, solely for war purposes, the sum of about one
hundred million dollars every day in the week. But, before this
year is over, that almost unbelievable rate of expenditure will be

All of this money has to be spent–and spent quickly–if we are to
produce within the time now available the enormous quantities of
weapons of war which we need. But the spending of these tremendous
sums presents grave danger of disaster to our national economy.

When your government continues to spend these unprecedented sums
for munitions month by month and year by year, that money goes into
the pocketbooks and bank accounts of the people of the United
States. At the same time raw materials and many manufactured goods
are necessarily taken away from civilian use, and machinery and
factories are being converted to war production.

You do not have to be a professor of mathematics or economics to
see that if people with plenty of cash start bidding against each
other for scarce goods, the price of those goods goes up.

Yesterday I submitted to the Congress of the United states a seven-
point program of general principles which taken together could be
called the national economic policy for attaining the great
objective of keeping the cost of living down.

I repeat them now to you in substance:

First. we must, through heavier taxes, keep personal and corporate
profits at a low reasonable rate.

Second. We must fix ceilings on prices and rents.

Third. We must stabilize wages.

Fourth. We must stabilize farm prices.

Fifth. We must put more billions into war bonds.

Sixth. We must ration all essential commodities which are scarce.

Seventh. We must discourage installment buying, and encourage
paying off debts and mortgages.

I do not think it is necessary to repeat what I said yesterday to
the Congress in discussing these general principles.

The important thing to remember is that each one of these points is
dependent on the others if the whole program is to work.

Some people are already taking the position that every one of the
seven points is correct except the one point which steps on their
own individual toes. A few seem very willing to approve self-
denial–on the part of their neighbors. The only effective course
of action is a simultaneous attack on all of the factors which
increase the cost of living, in one comprehensive, all-embracing
program covering prices, and profits, and wages, and taxes and

The blunt fact is that every single person in the United States is
going to be affected by this program. Some of you will be affected
more directly by one or two of these restrictive measures, but all
of you will be affected indirectly by all of them.

Are you a businessman, or do you own stock in a business
corporation? Well, your profits are going to be cut down to a
reasonably low level by taxation. Your income will be subject to
higher taxes. Indeed in these days, when every available dollar
should go to the war effort, I do not think that any American
citizen should have a net income in excess of $25,000 per year
after payment of taxes.

Are you a retailer or a wholesaler or a manufacturer or a farmer or
a landlord? Ceilings are being placed on the prices at which you
can sell your goods or rent your property.

Do you work for wages? You will have to forego higher wages for
your particular job for the duration of the war.

All of us are used to spending money for things that we want,
things, however, which are not absolutely essential. We will all
have to forego that kind of spending. Because we must put every
dime and every dollar we can possibly spare out of our earnings
into war bonds and stamps. Because the demands of the war effort
require the rationing of goods of which there is not enough to go
around. Because the stopping of purchases of non-essentials will
release thousands of workers who are needed in the war effort.

As I told the Congress yesterday, “sacrifice” is not exactly the
proper word with which to describe this program of self-denial.
When, at the end of this great struggle we shall have saved our
free way of life, we shall have made no “sacrifice.”

The price for civilization must be paid in hard work and sorrow and
blood. The price is not too high. If you doubt it, ask those
millions who live today under the tyranny of Hitlerism.

Ask the workers of France and Norway and the Netherlands, whipped
to labor by the lash, whether the stabilization of wages is too
great a “sacrifice.”

Ask the farmers of Poland and Denmark, of Czechoslovakia and
France, looted of their livestock, starving while their own crops
are stolen from their land, ask them whether “parity” prices are
too great a “sacrifice.”

Ask the businessmen of Europe, whose enterprises have been stolen
from their owners, whether the limitation of profits and personal
incomes is too great a “sacrifice.”

Ask the women and children whom Hitler is starving whether the
rationing of tires and gasoline and sugar is too great a

We do not have to ask them. They have already given us their
agonized answers.

This great war effort must be carried through to its victorious
conclusion by the indomitable will and determination of the people
as one great whole.

It must not be impeded by the faint of heart.

It must not be impeded by those who put their own selfish interests
above the interests of the nation.

It must not be impeded by those who pervert honest criticism into
falsification of fact.

It must not be impeded by self-styled experts either in economics
or military problems who know neither true figures nor geography

It must not be impeded by a few bogus patriots who use the sacred
freedom of the press to echo the sentiments of the propagandists in
Tokyo and Berlin.

And, above all, it shall not be imperiled by the handful of noisy
traitors–betrayers of America, betrayers of Christianity itself–
would-be dictators who in their hearts and souls have yielded to
Hitlerism and would have this Republic do likewise.

I shall use all of the executive power that I have to carry out the
policy laid down. If it becomes necessary to ask for any additional
legislation in order to attain our objective of preventing a spiral
in the cost of living, I shall do so.

I know the American farmer, the American workman, and the American
businessman. I know that they will gladly embrace this economy and
equality of sacrifice, satisfied that it is necessary for the most
vital and compelling motive in all their lives–winning through to

Never in the memory of man has there been a war in which the
courage, the endurance and the loyalty of civilians played so vital
a part.

Many thousands of civilians all over the world have been and are
being killed or maimed by enemy action. Indeed, it was the
fortitude of the common people of Britain under fire which enabled
that island to stand and prevented Hitler from winning the war in
1940. The ruins of London and Coventry and other cities are today
the proudest monuments to British heroism.

Our own American civilian population is now relatively safe from
such disasters. And, to an ever-increasing extent, our soldiers,
sailors and marines are fighting with great bravery and great skill
on far distant fronts to make sure that we shall remain safe.

I should like to tell you one or two stories about the men we have
in our armed forces:

There is, for example, Dr. Corydon M. Wassell. He was a missionary,
well known for his good works in China. He is a simple, modest,
retiring man, nearly sixty years old, but he entered the service of
his country and was commissioned a Lieutenant Commander in the

Dr. Wassell was assigned to duty in Java caring for wounded
officers and men of the cruisers HOUSTON and MARBLEHEAD which had
been in heavy action in the Java seas.

When the Japanese advanced across the island, it was decided to
evacuate as many as possible of the wounded to Australia. But about
twelve of the men were so badly wounded that they could not be
moved. Dr. Wassell remained with these men, knowing that he would
be captured by the enemy. But he decided to make a last desperate
attempt to get the men out of Java. He asked each of them if he
wished to take the chance, and every one agreed.

He first had to get the twelve men to the sea coast–fifty miles
away. To do this, he had to improvise stretchers for the hazardous
journey. The men were suffering severely, but Dr. Wassell kept them
alive by his skill, and inspired them by his own courage.

And as the official report said, Dr. Wassell was “almost like a
Christ-like shepherd devoted to his flock.”

On the sea coast, he embarked the men on a little Dutch ship. They
were bombed, they were machine-gunned by waves of Japanese planes.
Dr. Wassell took virtual command of the ship, and by great skill
avoided destruction, hiding in little bays and little inlets.

A few days later, Dr. Wassell and his small flock of wounded men
reached Australia safely.

And today Dr. Wassell wears the Navy Cross.

Another story concerns a ship, a ship rather than an individual

You may remember the tragic sinking of the submarine, the U.S.S.
SQUALUS off the New England coast in the summer of 1939. Some of
the crew were lost, but others were saved by the speed and the
efficiency of the surface rescue crews. The SQUALUS itself was
tediously raised from the bottom of the sea.

She was repaired and put back into commission, and eventually she
sailed again under a new name, the U.S.S. SAILFISH. Today, she is a
potent and effective unit of our submarine fleet in the Southwest

The SAILFISH has covered many thousands of miles in operations in
those waters.

She has sunk a Japanese destroyer.

She has torpedoed a Japanese cruiser.

She has made torpedo hits–two of them–on a Japanese aircraft

Three of the enlisted men of our Navy who went down with the
SQUALUS in 1939 and were rescued, are today serving on the same
ship, the U.S.S. SAILFISH, in this war.

It seems to me that it is heartening to know that the SQUALUS, once
given up as lost, rose from the depths to fight for our country in
time of peril.

One more story, that I heard only this morning:

This is a story of one of our Army Flying Fortresses operating in
the Western Pacific. The pilot of this plane is a modest young man,
proud of his crew for one of the toughest fights a bomber has yet

The bomber departed from its base, as part or a flight of five
bombers, to attack Japanese transports that were landing troops
against us in the Philippines. When they had gone about halfway to
their destination, one of the motors of this bomber went out of
commission. The young pilot lost contact with the other bombers.
The crew, however, got the motor working, got it going again and
the plane proceeded on its mission alone.

By the time it arrived at its target the other four Flying
Fortresses had already passed over, had dropped their bombs, and
had stirred up the hornets’ nest of Japanese “Zero” planes.
Eighteen of these “Zero” fighters attacked our one Flying Fortress.
Despite this mass attack, our plane proceeded on its mission, and
dropped all of its bombs on six Japanese transports which were
lined up along the docks.

«- Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 | View All | Next -»