Franklin Roosevelt: America Will Fight to Defend Freedom and Democracy

He promises to "maintain, defend and pass unimpaired... those democratic institutions to which we owe all of our happiness"

President who brought the country successfully through World War II, defeating the dictators who threatened to destroy democracy. By the fall of 1940, the Nazis and their Fascist allies controlled almost all of Europe. The only significant exception, Great Britain, appeared to be on the verge of invasion; many expected the British to surrender before the year was up.

Taken with the continued triumphs of militaristic Japan in the Far East, the security of the United States was threatened as never before. On October 29, Secretary of War Henry Stimson drew the first number in America's first peacetime military draft. In this charged atmosphere, the bitter 1940 presidential campaign was drawing to a conclusion.

FDR received a telegram from Anthony L. Frederick, President of Local 234 of the Clothing Salesmen’s Union, saying that the members endorsed him for reelection and wanted him to remain in the White House to “preserve our democratic institutions and continue your good work.”

Roosevelt responded to Frederick in this Typed Letter Signed on White House letterhead, Washington, D.C., November 1, 1940. “I am grateful for your recent telegram. In these times of stress and anxiety it is very reassuring to have the pledge of confidence and loyalty in which your friends and associates join. In expressing my heartfelt appreciation, may I in return pledge the faith of this Administration to maintain, defend and pass unimpaired to those who are to follow us, those democratic institutions to which we owe all of our happiness as a free people.”

Roosevelt here exhibits the determination to fight for freedom that would serve the nation so well during four years of a war which was but one year away. This is an inspirational statement of FDR on the reasons that America would fight, and is a moving call to future Americans to do likewise. The envelope and a copy of Frederick’s telegram to FDR are also present.