Chuck Mack: An address of the president – May 2, 1943
September 29, 2007
The following is part 1 of a 5-part speech by Presidet Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered by radio from the White House on May 2, 1943.
My fellow Americans,
I am speaking tonight to the American people, and in particular to those of our citizens who are coal miners.
Tonight, this country faces a serious crisis. We are engaged in a war on the successful outcome of which will depend the whole future of our country.
This war has reached a new critical phase. After the years that we have spent in preparation, we have moved into an active and continuing battle with our enemies. We are pouring into the world-wide conflict everything that we have – our young men and the vast resources of our nation.
I have just returned from a two-week tour of inspection on which I saw our men being trained and our war materials made. My trip took me through 20 states. I saw thousands of workers on the production line, making airplanes, guns and ammunition. Everywhere I found great eagerness to get on with the war. Men and women are working long hours at difficult jobs and living under difficult conditions without complaint.
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Along thousands of miles of track I saw countless acres of newly ploughed fields. The farmers of this country are planting the crops that are needed to feed our armed forces, our civilian population and our Allies. Those crops will be harvested. On my trip, I saw hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Young men who were green recruits last autumn have matured into self-assured and hardened fighting men. They are in splendid physical condition. They are mastering the superior weapons that we are pouring out of our factories.
The American people have accomplished a miracle. However, all of our massed effort is none too great to meet the demands of this war. We shall need everything that we have and everything that our Allies have to defeat the Nazis and the Fascists in the coming battles on the continent of Europe, and the Japanese on the continent of Asia and in the islands of the Pacific.
This tremendous forward movement of the United States and the United Nations cannot be stopped by our enemies.
And equally, it must not be hampered by any one individual or by the leaders of any one group here back home.
I want to make it clear that every American coal miner who has stopped mining coal – no matter how sincere his motives, no matter how legitimate he may believe his grievances to be – every idle miner directly and individually is obstructing our war effort. We have not yet won this war. We will win this war only as we produce and deliver our total American effort on the high seas and on the battle fronts. And that requires unrelenting, uninterrupted effort here on the home front.
A stopping of the coal supply, even for a short time, would involve a gamble with the lives of American soldiers and sailors and the future security of our whole people. It would involve an unwarranted, unnecessary and terribly dangerous gamble with our chances for victory.
Therefore, I say to all miners – and to all Americans everywhere, at home and abroad – the production of coal will not be stopped.
Tonight, I am speaking to the essential patriotism of the miners, and to the patriotism of their wives and children. And I am going to state the true facts of this case as simply and as plainly as I know how.
After the attack at Pearl Harbor, the three great labor organizations – the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Railroad Brotherhoods – gave the positive assurance that there would be no strikes as long as the war lasted. And the President of the United Mine workers of America was a party to that assurance.
That pledge was applauded throughout the country. It was a forcible means of telling the world that we Americans – 135,000,000 of us – are united in our determination to fight this total war with our total will and our total power. At the request of employers and of organized labor – including the United Mine Workers – the War Labor Board was set up for settling any disputes which could not be adjusted through collective bargaining. The War Labor Board is a tribunal on which workers, employers and the general public are equally represented.