My fellow Americans and my friends:
Tonight my single duty is to speak to the whole
Until four-thirty this morning I had hoped against
hope that some miracle would prevent a devastating war in Europe
and bring to an end the invasion of Poland by Germany.
For four long years a succession of actual wars
and constant crises have shaken the entire world and have threatened
in each case to bring on the gigantic conflict which is today
unhappily a fact.
It is right that I should recall to your minds
the consistent and at time successful efforts of your Government
in these crises to throw the full weight of the United States
into the cause of peace. In spite of spreading wars I think that
we have every right and every reason to maintain as a national
policy the fundamental moralities, the teachings of religion (and)
the continuation of efforts to restore peace -- (for) because
some day, though the time may be distant, we can be of even greater
help to a crippled humanity.
It is right, too, to point out that the unfortunate
events of these recent years have, without question, been based
on the use of force (or) and the threat of force. And it seems
to me clear, even at the outbreak of this great war, that the
influence of America should be consistent in seeking for humanity
a final peace which will eliminate, as far as it is possible to
do so, the continued use of force between nations.
It is, of course, impossible to predict the future.
I have my constant stream of information from American representatives
and other sources throughout the world. You, the people of this
country, are receiving news through your radios and your newspapers
at every hour of the day.
You are, I believe, the most enlightened and
the best informed people in all the world at this moment. You
are subjected to no censorship of news, and I want to add that
your Government has no information which it (hesitates to) withholds
(from you) or which it has any thought of withholding from you.
At the same time, as I told my Press Conference
on Friday, it is of the highest importance that the press and
the radio use the utmost caution to discriminate between actual
verified fact on the one hand, and mere rumor on the other.
I can add to that by saying that I hope the people
of this country will also discriminate most carefully between
news and rumor. Do not believe of necessity everything you hear
or read. Check up on it first.
You must master at the outset a simple but unalterable
fact in modern foreign relations between nations. When peace has
been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is
It is easy for you and for me to shrug our shoulders
and to say that conflicts taking place thousands of miles from
the continental United States, and, indeed, thousands of miles
from the whole American Hemisphere, do not seriously affect the
Americas -- and that all the United States has to do is to ignore
them and go about (our) its own business. Passionately though
we may desire detachment, we are forced to realize that every
word that comes through the air, every ship that sails the sea,
every battle that is fought does affect the American future.
Let no man or woman thoughtlessly or falsely
talk of America sending its armies to European fields. At this
moment there is being prepared a proclamation of American neutrality.
This would have been done even if there had been no neutrality
statute on the books, for this proclamation is in accordance with
international law and in accordance with American policy.
This will be followed by a Proclamation required
by the existing Neutrality Act. And I trust that in the days to
come our neutrality can be made a true neutrality.
It is of the utmost importance that the people
of this country, with the best information in the world, think
things through. The most dangerous enemies of American peace are
those who, without well-rounded Information on the whole broad
subject of the past, the present and the future, undertake to
speak with assumed authority, to talk in terms of glittering generalities,
to give to the nation assurances or prophecies which are of little
present or future value.
I myself cannot and do not prophesy the course
of events abroad -- and the reason is that because I have of necessity
such a complete picture of what is going on in every part of the
world, that I do not dare to do so. And the other reason is that
I think it is honest for me to be honest with the people of the
I cannot prophesy the immediate economic effect
of this new war on our nation but I do say that no American has
the moral right to profiteer at the expense either of his fellow
citizens or of the men, the women and the children who are living
and dying in the midst of war in Europe.
Some things we do know. Most of us in the United
States believe in spiritual values. Most of us, regardless of
what church we belong to, believe in the spirit of the New Testament
-- a great teaching which opposes itself to the use of force,
of armed force, of marching armies and falling bombs. The overwhelming
masses of our people seek peace -- peace at home, and the kind
of peace in other lands which will not jeopardize our peace at
We have certain ideas and certain ideals of national
safety and we must act to preserve that safety today and to preserve
the safety of our children in future years.
That safety is and will be bound up with the
safety of the Western Hemisphere and of the seas adjacent thereto.
We seek to keep war from our own firesides by keeping war from
coming to the Americas. For that we have historic precedent that
goes back to the days of the Administration of President George
Washington. It is serious enough and tragic enough to every American
family in every state in the Union to live in a world that is
torn by wars on other Continents. And those wars today (they)
affect every American home. It is our national duty to use every
effort to keep (them) those wars out of the Americas.
And at this time let me make the simple plea
that partisanship and selfishness be adjourned; and that national
unity be the thought that underlies all others.
This nation will remain a neutral nation, but
I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as
well. Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts. Even
a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience.
I have said not once but many times that I have
seen war and that I hate war. I say that again and again.
I hope the United States will keep out of this
war. I believe that it will. And I give you assurance(s) and reassurance
that every effort of your Government will be directed toward that
As long as it remains within my power to prevent,
there will be no blackout of peace in the United States.