Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941

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EUROPEAN WAR 1940

President Roosevelt's Address to Congress January 3

IN HIS ADDRESS to Congress on January 3, 1940, President Roosevelt recalled his repeated warnings that the daily lives of citizens of the United States would, of necessity, feel the shock of events on other continents. He said that the overwhelming majority of our people continued in their hope and expectation that this country would not become involved in military participation in the war. There was a vast difference, however, between keeping out of war and "pretending that this war is none of our business". The President said that the future world would be "a shabby and dangerous place to live in" if it were ruled by force in the hands of a few. He declared that we must look ahead and see the possibilities for our children if the rest of the world should come to be dominated by concentrated force alone; if a large part of the world were forbidden to worship God and were "deprived of the truth which makes men free"; if world trade were controlled by any nation or group of nations which set up that control through military force.

President Roosevelt declared further that while other peoples had the right to choose their own form of government the people of the United States believed that such choice "should be predicated on certain freedoms which we think are essential everywhere"; that we knew that we ourselves would never be wholly safe at home unless other governments recognized these freedoms. (146)


Visit of Under Secretary Welles to Europe

After the German armies had crushed military resistance in Poland in September 1939, the European war entered into a period of comparative inactivity as the opposing forces maintained positions behind their respective fixed fortifications. This inactivity continued during the winter of 1939-40.

The United States Government took advantage of this period to endeavor to ascertain whether there was any possibility whatever at that time for the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Europe. On February 9, 1940 the White House announced that Under Secretary of State Welles would proceed to Europe for the purpose of reporting to the President and the Secretary of State on conditions there; that he would visit Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain

-71-

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