ROOSEVELT HAD PUSHED HIS FIRST AND UNSUCCESSFUL fight to repeal the arms embargo to the limit of his resources because he believed war was imminent in Europe. After Congress refused to act, the President sought and found ways which did not require Congressional authorization to make the position of the United States felt by the Axis. Early in August, 1939, he established the War Resources Board to develop and report on plans for industrial mobilization in case of war. This was the ancestor of the agencies which directed American industry during the Second World War. Its establishment was a warning to the Axis that the administration was not as indifferent as Congress to world events. Its personnel, led by Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., was a bid to businessmen to support the administration.
The President could do no more on the domestic front. In foreign relations he found means for a telling act of opposition to aggression. Prior to the Czechoslovakian crisis of September, 1938, he had made the promise to defend Canada. Now a strong conviction that war would break out in Europe turned administration attention to the danger that Japan would, as usual, exploit a crisis in the West by launching new aggressions in the Far East. In the spring, Japan had taken advantage of Hitler's aggression against Czechoslovakia to embark on conquests which revealed new extensions of its imperialist program and for the first time