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President Roosevelt asks Congress to declare war on Japan

Speaker: Franklin D Roosevelt
Delivered On: 12/8/1941
Place: Washington, D.C.
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Description: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ask Congress for a declaration of war following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941. Note that the first 12 minutes of the audio contain radio commentary leading up to the address. If you position the RealAudio slider to 12:25, you will hear House Speaker Sam Rayburn introduce the President. In his book, Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, William Safire notes that the first draft of Roosevelt's opening line read, "...a date which will live in world history, the United States was simultaneously and deliberately attacked." Roosevelt substituted the much stronger but less familiar "infamy" in place of "world history" and used "suddenly" to replace "simultaneously." Harry Hopkins, a Roosevelt adviser, suggested some reference to God. FDR inserted: "So help me God." Safire also notes that "grammarians would prefer 'a date that will live in infamy," but it was a tense moment in a busy time." (Safire, p. 138)
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