Franklin D. Roosevelt
State of the Union Address
January 7, 1943
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Seventy-eighth Congress:
This Seventy-eighth Congress assembles in one of the great moments in
the history of the Nation. The past year was perhaps the most crucial for
modern civilization; the coming year will be filled with violent conflicts-
yet with high promise of better things.
We must appraise the events of 1942 according to their relative importance;
we must exercise a sense of proportion.
First in importance in the American scene has been the inspiring proof
of the great qualities of our fighting men. They have demonstrated these
qualities in adversity as well as in victory. As long as our flag flies
over this Capitol, Americans will honor the soldiers, sailors, and marines
who fought our first battles of this war against overwhelming odds the
heroes, living and dead, of Wake and Bataan and Guadalcanal, of the Java
Sea and Midway and the North Atlantic convoys. Their unconquerable spirit
will live forever.
By far the largest and most important developments in the whole world-wide
strategic picture of 1942 were the events of the long fronts in Russia:
first, the implacable defense of Stalingrad; and, second, the offensives
by the Russian armies at various points that started in the latter part
of November and which still roll on with great force and effectiveness.
The other major events of the year were: the series of Japanese advances
in the Philippines, the East Indies, Malaya, and Burma; the stopping of
that Japanese advance in the mid-Pacific, the South Pacific, and the Indian
Oceans; the successful defense of the Near East by the British counterattack
through Egypt and Libya; the American-British occupation of North Africa.
Of continuing importance in the year 1942 were the unending and bitterly
contested battles of the convoy routes, and the gradual passing of air
superiority from the Axis to the United Nations.
The Axis powers knew that they must win the war in 1942 -or eventually
lose everything. I do not need to tell you that our enemies did not win
the war in 1942.
In the Pacific area, our most important victory in 1942 was the air
and naval battle off Midway Island. That action is historically important
because it secured for our use communication lines stretching thousands
of miles in every direction. In placing this emphasis on the Battle of
Midway, I am not unmindful of other successful actions in the Pacific,
in the air and on land and afloat especially those on the Coral Sea and
New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands. But these actions were essentially
defensive. They were part of the delaying strategy that characterized this
phase of the war.
During this period we inflicted steady losses upon the enemy -great
losses of Japanese planes and naval vessels, transports and cargo ships.
As early as one year ago, we set as a primary task in the war of the Pacific
a day-by-day and week-by-week and month-by-month destruction of more Japanese
war materials than Japanese industry could replace. Most certainly, that
task has been and is being performed by our fighting ships and planes.
And a large part of this task has been accomplished by the gallant crews
of our American submarines who strike on the other side of the Pacific
at Japanese shipsright up at the very mouth of the harbor of Yokohama.
We know that as each day goes by, Japanese strength in ships and planes
is going down and down, and American strength in ships and planes is going
up and up. And so I sometimes feel that the eventual outcome can now be
put on a mathematical basis. That will become evident to the Japanese people
themselves when we strike at their own home islands, and bomb them constantly
from the air.
And in the attacks against Japan, we shall be joined with the heroic
people of Chinathat great people whose ideals of peace are so closely
akin to our own. Even today we are flying as much lend-lease material into
China as ever traversed the Burma Road, flying it over mountains 17,000
feet high, flying blind through sleet and snow. We shall overcome all the
formidable obstacles, and get the battle equipment into China to shatter
the power of our common enemy. From this war, China will realize the security,
the prosperity and the dignity, which Japan has sought so ruthlessly to
The period of our defensive attrition in the Pacific is drawing to a
close. Now our aim is to force the Japanese to fight. Last year, we stopped
them. This year, we intend to advance.
Turning now to the European theater of war, during this past year it
was clear that our first task was to lessen the concentrated pressure on
the Russian front by compelling Germany to divert part of her manpower
and equipment to another theater of war. After months of secret planning
and preparation in the utmost detail, an enormous amphibious expedition
was embarked for French North Africa from the United States and the United
Kingdom in literally hundreds of ships. It reached its objectives with
very small losses, and has already produced an important effect upon the
whole situation of the war. It has opened to attack what Mr. Churchill
well described as "the under-belly of the Axis," and it has removed the
always dangerous threat of an Axis attack through West Africa against the
South Atlantic Ocean and the continent of South America itself.
The well-timed and splendidly executed offensive from Egypt by the British
Eighth Army was a part of the same major strategy of the United Nations.
Great rains and appalling mud and very limited communications have delayed
the final battles of Tunisia. The Axis is reinforcing its strong positions.
But I am confident that though the fighting will be tough, when the final
Allied assault is made, the last vestige of Axis power will be driven from
the whole of the south shores of the Mediterranean.
Any review of the year 1942 must emphasize the magnitude and the diversity
of the military activities in which this Nation has become engaged. As
I speak to you, approximately one and a half million of our soldiers, sailors,
marines, and fliers are in service outside of our continental limits, all
through the world. Our merchant seamen, in addition, are carrying supplies
to them and to our allies over every sea lane.
Few Americans realize the amazing growth of our air strength, though
I am sure our enemy does. Day in and day out our forces are bombing the
enemy and meeting him in combat on many different fronts in every part
of the world. And for those who question the quality of our aircraft and
the ability of our fliers, I point to the fact that, in Africa, we are
shooting down two enemy planes to every one we lose, and in the Pacific
and the Southwest Pacific we are shooting them down four to one.
We pay great tributethe tribute of the United States of America to
the fighting men of Russia and China and Britain and the various members
of the British Commonwealth- the millions of men who through the years
of this war have fought our common enemies, and have denied to them the
world conquest which they sought.
We pay tribute to the soldiers and fliers and seamen of others of the
United Nations whose countries have been overrun by Axis hordes.
As a result of the Allied occupation of North Africa, powerful units
of the French Army and Navy are going into action. They are in action with
the United Nations forces. We welcome them as allies and as friends. They
join with those Frenchmen who, since the dark days of June, 1940, have
been fighting valiantly for the liberation of their stricken country.
We pay tribute to the fighting leaders of our allies, to Winston Churchill,
to Joseph Stalin, and to the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Yes, there
is a very great unanimity between the leaders of the United Nations. This
unity is effective in planning and carrying out the major strategy of this
war and in building up and in maintaining the lines of supplies.
I cannot prophesy. I cannot tell you when or where the United Nations
are going to strike next in Europe. But we are going to strike- and strike
hard. I cannot tell you whether we are going to hit them in Norway, or
through the Low Countries, or in France, or through Sardinia or Sicily,
or through the Balkans, or through Poland- or at several points simultaneously.
But I can tell you that no matter where and when we strike by land, we
and the British and the Russians will hit them from the air heavily and
relentlessly. Day in and day out we shall heap tons upon tons of high explosives
on their war factories and utilities and seaports.
Hitler and Mussolini will understand now the enormity of their miscalculationsthat
the Nazis would always have the advantage of superior air power as they
did when they bombed Warsaw, and Rotterdam, and London and Coventry. That
superiority has goneforever.
Yes, the Nazis and the Fascists have asked for itand they are going
to get it.
Our forward progress in this war has depended upon our progress on the
There has been criticism of the management and conduct of our war production.
Much of this self-criticism has had a healthy effect. It has spurred us
on. It has reflected a normal American impatience to get on with the job.
We are the kind of people who are never quite satisfied with anything short
But there has been some criticism based on guesswork and even on malicious
falsification of fact. Such criticism creates doubts and creates fears,
and weakens our total effort.
I do not wish to suggest that we should be completely satisfied with
our production progress today, or next month, or ever. But I can report
to you with genuine pride on what has been accomplished in 1942.
A year ago we set certain production goals for 1942 and for 1943. Some
people, including some experts, thought that we had pulled some big figures
out of a hat just to frighten the Axis. But we had confidence in the ability
of our people to establish new records. And that confidence has been justified.
Of course, we realized that some production objectives would have to
be changed- some of them adjusted upward, and others downward; some items
would be taken out of the program altogether, and others added. This was
inevitable as we gained battle experience, and as technological improvements
Our 1942 airplane production and tank production fell short, numericallystress
the word numerically of the goals set a year ago. Nevertheless, we have
plenty of reason to be proud of our record for 1942. We produced 48,000
military planesmore than the airplane production of Germany, Italy, and
Japan put together. Last month, in December, we produced 5,500 military
planes and the rate is rapidly rising. Furthermore, we must remember that
as each month passes by, the averages of our types weigh more, take more
man-hours to make, and have more striking power.
In tank production, we revised our schedule- and for good and sufficient
reasons. As a result of hard experience in battle, we have diverted a portion
of our tank-producing capacity to a stepped-up production of new, deadly
field weapons, especially self-propelled artillery.
Here are some other production figures:
In 1942, we produced 56,000 combat vehicles, such as tanks and self-propelled
In 1942, we produced 670,000 machine guns, six times greater than our
production in 1941 and three times greater than our total production during
the year and a half of our participation in the first World War.
We produced 21,000 anti-tank guns, six times greater than our 1941 production.
We produced ten and a quarter billion rounds of small-arms ammunition,
five times greater than our 1941 production and three times greater than
our total production in the first World War.
We produced 181 million rounds of artillery ammunition, twelve times
greater than our 1941 production and ten times greater than our total production
in the first World War.
I think the arsenal of democracy is making good.
These facts and figures that I have given will give no great aid and
comfort to the enemy. On the contrary, I can imagine that they will give
him considerable discomfort. I suspect that Hitler and Tojo will find it
difficult to explain to the German and Japanese people just why it is that
"decadent, inefficient democracy" can produce such phenomenal quantities
of weapons and munitions- and fighting men.
We have given the lie to certain misconceptionswhich is an extremely
polite word- especially the one which holds that the various blocs or groups
within a free country cannot forego their political and economic differences
in time of crisis and work together toward a common goal.
While we have been achieving this miracle of production, during the
past year our armed forces have grown from a little over 2,000,000 to 7,000,000.
In other words, we have withdrawn from the labor force and the farms some
5,000,000 of our younger workers. And in spite of this, our farmers have
contributed their share to the common effort by producing the greatest
quantity of food ever made available during a single year in all our history.
I wonder is there any person among us so simple as to believe that all
this could have been done without creating some dislocations in our normal
national life, some inconveniences, and even some hardships?
Who can have hoped to have done this without burdensome Government regulations
which are a nuisance to everyone- including those who have the thankless
task of administering them?
We all know that there have been mistakes- mistakes due to the inevitable
process of trial and error inherent in doing big things for the first time.
We all know that there have been too many complicated forms and questionnaires.
I know about that. I have had to fill some of them out myself.
But we are determined to see to it that our supplies of food and other
essential civilian goods are distributed on a fair and just basisto rich
and poor, management and labor, farmer and city dweller alike. We are determined
to keep the cost of living at a stable level. All this has required much
information. These forms and questionnaires represent an honest and sincere
attempt by honest and sincere officials to obtain this information.
We have learned by the mistakes that we have made.
Our experience will enable us during the coming year to improve the
necessary mechanisms of wartime economic controls, and to simplify administrative
procedures. But we do not intend to leave things so lax that loopholes
will be left for cheaters, for chiselers, or for the manipulators of the
Of course, there have been disturbances and inconveniences -and even
hardships. And there will be many, many more before we finally win. Yes,
1943 will not be an easy year for us on the home front. We shall feel in
many ways in our daily lives the sharp pinch of total war.
Fortunately, there are only a few Americans who place appetite above
patriotism. The overwhelming majority realize that the food we send abroad
is for essential military purposes, for our own and Allied fighting forces,
and for necessary help in areas that we occupy.
We Americans intend to do this great job together. In our common labors
we must build and fortify the very foundation of national unity- confidence
in one another.
It is often amusing, and it is sometimes politically profitable, to
picture the City of Washington as a madhouse, with the Congress and the
Administration disrupted with confusion and indecision and general incompetence.
Howeverwhat matters most in war is results. And the one pertinent fact
is that after only a few years of preparation and only one year of warfare,
we are able to engage, spiritually as well as physically, in the total
waging of a total war.
Washington may be a madhouse- but only in the sense that it is the Capital
City of a Nation which is fighting mad. And I think that Berlin and Rome
and Tokyo, which had such contempt for the obsolete methods of democracy,
would now gladly use all they could get of that same brand of madness.
And we must not forget that our achievements in production have been
relatively no greater than those of the Russians and the British and the
Chinese who have developed their own war industries under the incredible
difficulties of battle conditions. They have had to continue work through
bombings and blackouts. And they have never quit.
We Americans are in good, brave company in this war, and we are playing
our own, honorable part in the vast common effort.
As spokesmen for the United States Government, you and I take off our
hats to those responsible for our American productionto the owners, managers,
and supervisors, to the draftsmen and the engineers, and to the workers-
men and womenin factories and arsenals and shipyards and mines and mills
and forestsand railroads and on highways.
We take off our hats to the farmers who have faced an unprecedented
task of feeding not only a great Nation but a great part of the world.
We take off our hats to all the loyal, anonymous, untiring men and women
who have worked in private employment and in Government and who have endured
rationing and other stringencies with good humor and good will.
Yes, we take off our hats to all Americans who have contributed so magnificently
to our common cause.
I have sought to emphasize a sense of proportion in this review of the
events of the war and the needs of the war.
We should never forget the things we are fighting for. But, at this
critical period of the war, we should confine ourselves to the larger objectives
and not get bogged down in argument over methods and details.
We, and all the United Nations, want a decent peace and a durable peace.
In the years between the end of the first World War and the beginning of
the second World War, we were not living under a decent or a durable peace.
I have reason to know that our boys at the front are concerned with
two broad aims beyond the winning of the war; and their thinking and their
opinion coincide with what most Americans here back home are mulling over.
They know, and we know, that it would be inconceivableit would, indeed,
be sacrilegious if this Nation and the world did not attain some real,
lasting good out of all these efforts and sufferings and bloodshed and
The men in our armed forces want a lasting peace, and, equally, they
want permanent employment for themselves, their families, and their neighbors
when they are mustered out at the end of the war.
Two years ago I spoke in my Annual Message of four freedoms. The blessings
of two of them- freedom of speech and freedom of religionare an essential
part of the very life of this Nation; and we hope that these blessings
will be granted to all men everywhere.
'The people at home, and the people at the front, are wondering a little
about the third freedomfreedom from want. To them it means that when they
are mustered out, when war production is converted to the economy of peace,
they will have the right to expect full employmentfull employment for
themselves and for all able-bodied men and women in America who want to
They expect the opportunity to work, to run their farms, their stores,
to earn decent wages. They are eager to face the risks inherent in our
system of free enterprise.
They do not want a postwar America which suffers from undernourishment
or slums- or the dole. They want no get-rich-quick era of bogus "prosperity"
which will end for them in selling apples on a street corner, as happened
after the bursting of the boom in 1929.
When you talk with our young men and our young women, you will find
they want to work for themselves and for their families; they consider
that they have the right to work; and they know that after the last war
their fathers did not gain that right.
When you talk with our young men and women, you will find that with
the opportunity for employment they want assurance against the evils of
all major economic hazards- assurance that will extend from the cradle
to the grave. And this great Government can and must provide this assurance.
I have been told that this is no time to speak of a better America after
the war. I am told it is a grave error on my part.
And if the security of the individual citizen, or the family, should
become a subject of national debate, the country knows where I stand.
I say this now to this Seventy-eighth Congress, because it is wholly
possible that freedom from wantthe right of employment, the right of assurance
against life's hazardswill loom very large as a task of America during
the coming two years.
I trust it will not be regarded as an issuebut rather as a task for
all of us to study sympathetically, to work out with a constant regard
for the attainment of the objective, with fairness to all and with injustice
In this war of survival we must keep before our minds not only the evil
things we fight against but the good things we are fighting for. We fight
to retain a great past- and we fight to gain a greater future.
Let us remember, too, that economic safety for the America of the future
is threatened unless a greater economic stability comes to the rest of
the world. We cannot make America an island in either a military or an
economic sense. Hitlerism, like any other form of crime or disease, can
grow from the evil seeds of economic as well as military feudalism.
Victory in this war is the first and greatest goal before us. Victory
in the peace is the next. That means striving toward the enlargement of
the security of man here and throughout the world and, finally, striving
for the fourth freedom- freedom from fear.
It is of little account for any of us to talk of essential human needs,
of attaining security, if we run the risk of another World War in ten or
twenty or fifty years. That is just plain common sense. Wars grow in size,
in death and destruction, and in the inevitability of engulfing all Nations,
in inverse ratio to the shrinking size of the world as a result of the
conquest of the air. I shudder to think of what will happen to humanity,
including ourselves, if this war ends in an inconclusive peace, and another
war breaks out when the babies of today have grown to fighting age.
Every normal American prays that neither he nor his sons nor his grandsons
will be compelled to go through this horror again.
Undoubtedly a few Americans, even now, think that this Nation can end
this war comfortably and then climb back into an American hole and pull
the hole in after them.
But we have learned that we can never dig a hole so deep that it would
be safe against predatory animals. We have also learned that if we do not
pull the fangs of the predatory animals of this world, they will multiply
and grow in strength- and they will be at our throats again once more in
a short generation.
Most Americans realize more clearly than ever before that modern war
equipment in the hands of aggressor Nations can bring danger overnight
to our own national existence or to that of any other Nationor islandor
It is clear to us that if Germany and Italy and Japan- or any one of
them- remain armed at the end of this war, or are permitted to rearm, they
will again, and inevitably, embark upon an ambitious career of world conquest.
They must be disarmed and kept disarmed, and they must abandon the philosophy,
and the teaching of that philosophy, which has brought so much suffering
to the world.
After the first World War we tried to achieve a formula for permanent
peace, based on a magnificent idealism. We failed. But, by our failure,
we have learned that we cannot maintain peace at this stage of human development
by good intentions alone.
Today the United Nations are the mightiest military coalition in all
history. They represent an overwhelming majority of the population of the
world. Bound together in solemn agreement that they themselves will not
commit acts of aggression or conquest against any of their neighbors, the
United Nations can and must remain united for the maintenance of peace
by preventing any attempt to rearm in Germany, in Japan, in Italy, or in
any other Nation which seeks to violate the Tenth Commandment -"Thou shalt
There are cynics, there are skeptics who say it cannot be done. The
American people and all the freedom-loving peoples of this earth are now
demanding that it must be done. And the will of these people shall prevail.
The very philosophy of the Axis powers is based on a profound contempt
for the human race. If, in the formation of our future policy, we were
guided by the same cynical contempt, then we should be surrendering to
the philosophy of our enemies, and our victory would turn to defeat.
The issue of this war is the basic issue between those who believe in
mankind and those who do notthe ancient issue between those who put their
faith in the people and those who put their faith in dictators and tyrants.
There have always been those who did not believe in the people, who attempted
to block their forward movement across history, to force them back to servility
and suffering and silence.
The people have now gathered their strength. They are moving forward
in their might and powerand no force, no combination of forces, no trickery,
deceit, or violence, can stop them now. They see before them the hope of
the world- a decent, secure, peaceful life for men everywhere.
I do not prophesy when this war will end.
But I do believe that this year of 1943 will give to the United Nations
a very substantial advance along the roads that lead to Berlin and Rome
I tell you it is within the realm of possibility that this Seventy-eight
Congress may have the historic privilege of helping greatly to save the
world from future fear.
Therefore, let us all have confidence, let us redouble our efforts.
A tremendous, costly, long-enduring task in peace as well as in war
is still ahead of us.
But, as we face that continuing task, we may know that the state of
this Nation is goodthe heart of this Nation is sound -the spirit of this
Nation is strongthe faith of this Nation is eternal.