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                               PAPER XVII

". . . We will extend to the opponents of force the material resources 
of this Nation; . . ." 

Address at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.,
   June 10, 1940

President Newcomb, my friends of the University of Virginia:  

I notice by the program that I am asked to address the class of 1940. I 
avail myself of that privilege. But I also take this very apt occasion 
to speak to many other classes that have graduated through all the 
years, classes that are still in the period of study, not alone in the 
schools of learning of the Nation, but classes that have come up through 
the great schools of experience; in other words a cross section of the 
country, just as you who graduate today are a cross section of the 
Nation as a whole. 

Every generation of young men and women in America has questions to ask 
the world. Most of the time they are the simple but nevertheless 
difficult questions, questions of work to do, opportunities to find, 
ambitions to satisfy. 

But every now and again in the history of the Republic a different kind 
of question presents itself-a question that asks, not about the future 
of an individual or even of a generation, but about the future of the 
country, the future of the American people. 

There was such a time at the beginning of our history as a Nation. Young 
people asked themselves in those days what lay ahead, not for 
themselves, but for the new United States. 

There was such a time again in the seemingly endless years of the War 
Between the States. Young men and young women on both sides of the line 
asked themselves, not what trades or professions they would enter, what 
lives they would make, but what was to become of the country they had 

There is such a time again today. Again today the young men and the 
young women of America ask themselves with earnestness and with deep 
concern this same question: "What is to become of the country we know?" 

Now they ask it with even greater anxiety than before. They ask, not 
only what the future holds for this Republic, but what the future holds 
for all peoples and all nations that have been living under democratic 
forms of Government-under the free institutions of a free people. 

It is understandable to all of us that they should ask this question. 
They read the words of those who are telling them that the ideal of 
individual liberty, the ideal of free franchise, the ideal of peace 
through justice, are decadent ideals. They read the word and hear the 
boast of those who say that a belief in force-force directed by self-
chosen leaders-is the new and vigorous system which will overrun the 

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They have seen the ascendancy of this philosophy of force in nation 
after nation where free institutions and individual liberties were once 

It is natural and understandable that the younger generation should 
first ask itself what the extension of the philosophy of force to all 
the world would lead to ultimately. We see today in stark reality some 
of the consequences of what we call the machine age. 

Where control of machines has been retained in the hands of mankind as a 
whole, untold benefits have accrued to mankind. For mankind was then the 
master; and the machine was the servant. 

But in this new system of force the mastery of the machine is not in the 
hands of mankind. It is in the control of infinitely small groups of 
individuals who rule without a single one of the democratic sanctions 
that we have known. The machine in hands of irresponsible conquerors 
becomes the master; mankind is not only the servant; it is the victim, 
too. Such mastery abandons with deliberate contempt all the moral values 
to which even this young country for more than three hundred years has 
been accustomed and dedicated. 

Surely the new philosophy proves from month to month that it could have 
no possible conception of the way of life or the way of thought of a 
nation whose origins go back to Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. 

Conversely, neither those who spring from that ancient stock nor those 
who have come hither in later years can be indifferent to the 
destruction of freedom in their ancestral lands across the sea. 

Perception of danger to our institutions may come slowly or it may come 
with a rush and a shock as it has to the people of the United States in 
the past few months. This perception of danger has come to us clearly 
and overwhelming]y; and we perceive the peril in a worldwide arena-an 
arena that may become so narrowed that only the Americas will retain the 
ancient faiths. 

Some indeed still hold to the now somewhat obvious delusion that we of 
the United States can safely permit the United States to become a lone 
island, a lone island in a world dominated by the philosophy of force. 

Such an island may be the dream of those who still talk and vote as 
isolationists. Such an island represents to me and to the overwhelming 
majority of Americans today a helpless nightmare of a people without 
freedom-the nightmare of a people lodged in prison, handcuffed, hungry, 
and fed through the bars from day to day by the contemptuous, unpitying 
masters of other continents. 

It is natural also that we should ask ourselves how now we can prevent 
the building of that prison and the placing of ourselves in the midst of 

Let us not hesitate-all of us-to proclaim certain truths. Overwhelmingly 
we, as a nation-and this applies to all the other American nations-are 
convinced that military and naval victory for the gods of force and hate 
would endanger the institutions of democracy in the western world, and 
that equally, therefore, the whole of our sympathies lies with those 
nations that are giving their life blood in combat against these forces. 

The people and the Government of the United States have seen with the 
utmost regret and with grave disquiet the decision of the Italian 
Government to engage in the hostilities now raging Europe. 

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More than three months ago the Chief of the Italian Government sent me 
word that because of the determination of Italy to limit, so far as 
might be possible, the spread of the European conflict, more than two 
hundred millions of people in the region of the Mediterranean had been 
enabled to escape the suffering and the devastation of war. 

I informed the Chief of the Italian Government that this desire on the 
part of Italy to prevent the war from spreading met with full sympathy 
and response on the part of the Government and the people of the United 
States, and I expressed the earnest hope of this Government and of this 
people that this policy on the part of Italy might be continued. I made 
it clear that in the opinion of the Government of the United States any 
extension of hostilities in the region of the Mediterranean might result 
in a still greater enlargement of the scene of the conflict, the 
conflict in the Near East and in Africa and that if this came to pass no 
one could foretell how much greater the theater of the war eventually 
might become. 

Again on a subsequent occasion, not so long ago, recognizing that 
certain aspirations of Italy might form the basis of discussions among 
the powers most specifically concerned, I offered, in a message 
addressed to the Chief of the Italian Government, to send to the 
Governments of France and of Great Britain such specific indications of 
the desires of Italy to obtain readjustments with regard to her position 
as the Chief of the Italian Government might desire to transmit through 
me. While making it clear that the Government of-the United States in 
such an event could not and would not assume responsibility for the 
nature of the proposals submitted nor for agreements which might 
thereafter be reached, I proposed that if Italy would refrain from 
entering the war I would be willing to ask assurances from the other 
powers concerned that they would faithfully execute any agreement so 
reached and that Italy's voice in any future peace conference would have 
the same authority as if Italy had actually taken part in the war, as a 

Unfortunately to the regret of all of us and the regret of humanity, the 
Chief of the Italian Government was unwilling to accept the procedure 
suggested and he has made no counter proposal. 

This Government directed its efforts to doing what it could to work for 
the preservation of peace in the Mediterranean area, and it likewise 
expressed its willingness to endeavor to cooperate with the Government 
of Italy when the appropriate occasion arose for the creation of a more 
stable world order, through the reduction of armaments, and through the 
construction of a more liberal international economic system which would 
assure to all powers equality of opportunity in the world's markets and 
in the securing of raw materials on equal terms.

I have likewise, of course, felt it necessary in my communications to 
Signor Mussolini to express the concern of the Government of the United 
States because of the fact that any extension of the war in the region 
of the Mediterranean would inevitably result in great prejudice to the 
ways of life and Government and to the trade and commerce of all the 
American Republics. 

The Government of Italy has now chosen to preserve what it terms its 
"freedom of action" and to fulfill what it states are its promises to 
Germany. In so doing it has manifested disregard for the rights and 
security of other nations, disregard for the lives 

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of the peoples of those nations which are directly threatened by this 
spread of the war; and has evidenced its unwillingness to find the means 
through pacific negotiations for the satisfaction of what it believes 
are its legitimate aspirations. 

On this tenth day of June, 1940, the hand that held the dagger has 
struck it into the back of its neighbor. 

On this tenth day of June, 1940, in this University founded by the first 
great American teacher of democracy, we send forth our prayers and our 
hopes to those beyond the seas who are maintaining with magnificent 
valor their battle for freedom. 

In our American unity, we will pursue two obvious and simultaneous 
courses: we will extend to the opponents of force the material resources 
of this nation; and, at the same time, we will harness and speed up the 
use of those resources in order that we ourselves in the Americas may 
have equipment and training equal to the task of any emergency and every 

All roads leading to the accomplishment of these objectives must be kept 
clear of obstructions. We will not slow down or detour. Signs and 
signals call for speed-full speed ahead. 

It is right that each new generation should ask questions. But in recent 
months the principal question has been somewhat simplified. Once more 
the future of the nation and of the American people is at stake. 

We need not and we will not, in any way, abandon our continuing effort 
to make democracy work within our borders. We still insist on the need 
for vast improvements in our own social and economic life. 

But that is a component part of national defense itself. 

The program unfolds swiftly and into that program will fit the 
responsibility and the opportunity of every man and woman in the land to 
preserve his and her heritage in days of peril. 

I call for effort, courage, sacrifice, devotion. Granting the love of 
freedom, all of these are possible. 

And the love of freedom is still fierce and steady in the nation today. 


See Papers IX, XIV, XIX, XXI, XXII, of this series for Western 
Hemisphere defense and aid to opponents of force. See also Public Papers 
and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 Volume, pp. 587-595, 673-
678, for notes on Lend-Lease and financial aid to China.