This Is a Peoples War


By HENRY MORGENTHAU, Secretary of the Treasury

Delivered at Rally at Opening of the Second War Loan Drive, Carnegie Hall, New York City, April 12, 1943

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 424-425.

TONIGHT I'm going to talk about something you might not expect the Treasury Department to discuss. I'm going to talk about the Second Front. The Second Front is no military secret. We all know that, just over the horizon, we of the United Nations are piling up the thunder-clouds of the greatest attack in history. We are massing for that attack, now. The planning, the patient preparation, the bitter time when we had to take blows without returning them, because we weren't ready—all of that is past. Now we're ready to deal a few blows ourselves; and they'll be blows, I can promise you, that will rock Nazi Germany to its rotten, bloodstained foundations.

As the Secretary of the Treasury I've been given the job of seeing to it that money is available to pay for this great military offensive and others to follow. This is why we are launching the Second War Loan tonight—to raise at least $13,000,000,000 before the end of this month to buy materials and implements of war. We must buy shells today for big guns that will be roaring tomorrow and the day after. I'm here tonight to tell you that your help is needed. The need is real, urgent, pressing. Ten per cent is no longer enough. We are asking every one to buy extra bonds this month, even workers who are now participating in the payroll savings plan.

War Financing No Mystery

In our private lives none of us deals with billion-dollar figures. I know they're bewildering.

But except for the size of the figures involved there is no mystery about financing a war. The Government of the United States is buying the best equipment ever furnished to any army. It is paying not only for equipment that reaches the fighting fronts but for some equipment that never gets there. For every ship that's sunk we must build two new ships; for every cargo that's lost we must send out two new cargoes. And that costs money. Where are we going to get it?

Well, there are several ways to get the money. We can raise it through taxes. We can borrow it from the banks. And we can borrow it from the people—and that means you.

We are now getting more money through taxes than ever before. And it will be necessary, I have no doubt, to ask for still more. But we cannot rely on taxes alone to do the whole job, and I wouldn't want to—because we could not tax with fairness on so huge a scale.

We could borrow all the money from the banks. Our credit is excellent. But for a variety of reasons, economic and social, this is also undesirable. One reason goes to the very heart of our system of government. It is important to me as I know it is to you. This is a people's war—so all of the people ought to have a part in financing it.

96 Per Cent Goes For War

And I know you feel the same way about it, because five-sixths of all the people who are earning money today have bought bonds.

As the Secretary of the Treasury, I can report that 96 cents out of every dollar which comes into the Treasury, through war bonds, taxes, or anything else, is spent for war purposes. When you pay $18.75 for a bond, $18 go immediately into guns and planes and equipment. The 75 cents goes for the regular expenditures of the government.

The cost of selling bonds is indeed very small. And this is because you and your neighbors and hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the country have taken over the job of selling. I'd like to express, to all of you, my deepest gratitude. I should like to thank all of those who are helping—management and labor—for the splendid success they have made of the payroll savings plan, under which more than 25 million working people now regularly invest almost 9 per cent of their wages and salaries. I'd like to thank manufacturing and retail business firms, large and small, who have given us, free of charge, millions of dollars worth of advertising space and radio time, as has the Bell Telephone System tonight. And the Federal Reserve System and thousands of banks working with them—and all the others who are giving their time in this way in the service of their country.

You can feel every confidence that the financial affairs of your government are in good condition as the United Nations go on the offensive. The situation is well in hand.

We know where we're going. We know how much money our armed forces will need.

During this month of April we must get 13 billion dollars. We shall then have borrowed about 20 billion dollars in the first four months of this year. We will need to borrow about 25 billions during the second four months, and, without any new taxes, another 25 in the final period of the year; a total of about 70 billion dollars for the year.

I would like to assure you that we can afford it.

Voices Confidence In Outcome

But 70 billion dollars is, of course, a lot of money. It isn't going to be easy to raise it. It means hard work. But I have every confidence, knowing the American people and how deeply serious they are about this war, that we will get it. We will get it from people who will scrimp and save if need be to buy these bonds. We will get it especially from those upon whom we must depend most heavily—the men and women who are making good money in shipyards and plane factories and tank production; the gallant women who used to call themselves housewives but who are working today at lathes and drill-presses in the great war plants. These are the Americans who, all together, buy bonds in amounts that a millionaire, or even all of the millionaires combined, could never hope to equal. And they'll buy more of them this year—this year when 10 per cent is no longer enough.

The boys at the front are counting on them. They are counting on you.

All of us will buy bonds because all of us know that this is our war and that we must win it. We must win it so that nations with a bloody philosophy out of the dark ages of mankind's past will never again be able to raise a traitorous hand against neighbors wanting only to live in peace and friendly good-will. An hour ago I passed through a railroad station. Standing at the iron gates, saying goodbye, were boys in uniform with their girls, their wives—

young couples come to the heart-breaking minute when there were no more words; when all they could do was to stand with their hands clenched so tightly together that they hurt. And as I passed them I thought of all the other young Americans whose lives have been torn into ragged bits—young architects and engineers giving up their studies; schoolgirls working in factories; farmers sending their wives and youngsters out to work in the fields because they can't get hired hands; businessmen losing what they've spent twenty years creating, because of the necessary curtailments.

Denounces Brutality of Foes

By what right do the Germans, the Japanese, blight our lives, shatter our homes, whirl away our boys to drown five thousand miles from home in a scum of oil at sea, or bleed and cough their lives out in a muddy, filthy ditch? Who do they think they are? We know only too well who they think they are! They're the supermen, the Master Races, put here on earth to enslave the rest of us and crack the whip over our bare backs while we do their dirty chores—they and their "great" armies; their great armies of sneaks and bullies that jump on weak, helpless nations when they aren't looking. The Japs, with their dreams of empire, built on lies and treachery. The Germans, who twice within the memory of living men have tried, with their Kaisers and their Fuehrers, to conquer the rest of our world. We say "Never again!" We of the United Nations will show them some really great armies—Chinese and Russian, British and American.

These armies are the mightiest military machine in all history. But to us they are friends and husbands, fathers and sons. They are your boys and my boys.

They are asked to give their lives.

You are only asked to lend your money.

Shall we be more tender with our dollars than with the lives of our sons?