FDR Declares War - A Review of His "Infamy" Speech

Essay by cassthemanCollege, UndergraduateA+, January 2005

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Declares War

December 6, 1941, a herculean conflict has engulfed most of the world for years; Germany's conquest of Europe and Northern Africa along with Japan's invasions of China and Indochina were the fuel for this global maelstrom. The United States attempts to remain neutral, but the events of the following day will thrust The United States into the epicenter of the storm. On December 7, 1941, while Japanese diplomats were in Washington D.C. negotiating America's neutrality, Japan attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress on December 8, 1941 to solicit a Declaration of War.

President Roosevelt composes the speech by himself and delivers the speech in The House Chamber of the United States Capital only 23 hours after the attack. The content of the speech is a chronological review of the events of the previous day, implications of these events, and the expression of the desired short-term and long-term consequences of these events.

President Roosevelt suffered from polio. He wore leg bracing and utilized a wheelchair, but to present an image of strength he never allowed the public to observe this (Krauthammer, 2001). During the speech, the president scarcely moves his hands from the side of the podium; he does not employ hand gestures but rather, he may use the podium to stabilize his stance due to the effects of polio. The president does not use humor; it would have been inappropriate considering the gravity of the speech's subject matter. There was no use of visual aids; the nature of the venue prevented such aids. Except to pause for several instances during the speech for applause, the President does not interact with his audience; this is a somber moment in the country's history, any interaction with...