World War II: Pearl Harbor: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Papers

Key FDR Presidential and FDR Administration
papers related to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The
papers also cover the administration’s internal debate
over the decision to intern Japanese Americans.

Highlights include:

A January 21, 1941 letter from Franklin Roosevelt to
United States Ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew,
explaining his belief that the war raging in Europe and
the growing Japanese threat in the Pacific were all
part of a “single world conflict.”

An April 4, 1941 memo from Department of the Treasury
official Harry Dexter White to Treasury Secretary Henry
Morgenthau reflects the tension between the Navy
Department, which would have to defend the United
States in a war and was concerned about Japan’s growing
petroleum reserves, and the State Department, which
hoped that free trade in oil would prevent a war by
avoiding a direct confrontation with Japan.

A July 15, 1941 memo to FDR from Army Chief of Staff
General George C. Marshall summarizes an intercepted
Japanese diplomatic message concerning Japan’s imminent
takeover of Indo-China (Vietnam) from the French Vichy
regime. Japan’s movement into Indo-China would prompt
FDR to impose economic sanctions on Japan and
ultimately shut off all exports of oil to Japan.

A December 1, 1941 memo from FDR to Secretary of State
Cordell Hull and Under Secretary of State Sumner
Welles. After learning about a massive Japanese troop
buildup in Indo-China, President Roosevelt instructs
his top diplomats to immediately learn the intentions
behind the Japanese Government’s latest move. FDR
discusses the obvious parallels between Japan’s actions
in the Pacific and Germany’s actions in Europe.

A copy of an early December 7, 1941 message from the
Department of the Navy sent to President Roosevelt
informing him of the attack. In his own hand, President
Roosevelt has indicated the date and time he received

A December 7, 1941 diary entry by cabinet member Claude
Wickard, gives detail about the discussions that took
place at the White House in a Cabinet meeting following
the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wickard notes a
confrontation between the President and Secretary of
State Cordell Hull over the length of Roosevelt’s
proposed address to Congress, which would become known
as the Day of Infamy Speech, and the explosive meeting
with Congressional leaders that followed.

"A date which will live in infamy" speech, includes
both the reading copy of the speech and an early draft
which includes copious handwritten notations and
changes to one of the most famous American speeches of
the twentieth century. The earlier draft shows that the
line in the speech originally was, "A date which will
live in world history," and later changed at the
suggestion of on aid to "A date which will live in

A December 10, 1941 letter and accompanying maps sent
to FDR by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover showing the
locations of the 1,212 Japanese aliens considered to be
disloyal or dangerous who were arrested by the Bureau
within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Additional maps gave the locations of the 620 German
and 98 Italian aliens taken into custody.
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