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The Churchill Society


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Franklin D. Roosevelt


His Great Leadership and Achievements in World War II

and his relationship with Churchill

From the outset of his administration, Roosevelt was deeply involved in fighting the Depression. However, In 1939 Roosevelt was forced to give much greater attention to foreign affairs because of the ever darkening international scene. He refused to recognise Japanese invasion of and conquests in Manchuria; like most Americans - he was determined to keep the United States out of any impending war. After Japan invaded northern China he was forced to think more deeply about his policies.

When World War II began in 1939, followed by the fall of France in early 1940, Roosevelt and Congress turned to defence preparations and "all aid short of war" to Great Britain. Roosevelt exchanged with Great Britain 50 aged destroyers in exchange for eight Western Hemisphere bases. Isolationists, remembering their first world war experiences and losses, fought against those who felt it was in America's interest to help Britain. Roosevelt had to tread warily - there was a forthcoming election and he needed to win it before making his true feelings clear.This he achieved in 1940 winning an unprecedented third term.

In March 1941 Roosevelt obtained the Lend-Lease Act, enabling the United States to finance aid to Great Britain and its allies after a bitter debate in Congress. After the sinking without any warning of passenger liners by the German Navy Roosevelt ordered the US navy to "shoot on sight" at German submarines.

In August, Roosevelt met with Churchill on a battleship off Newfoundland, and they proclaimed an Atlantic Charter. It was to provide mutual help, and a long term aim of national self-determination; the developing of all possible economic opportunities for free trade, freedom from fear and want, freedom of the seas, and disarmament.

But the sobering realities of the world situation were to suddenly reveal themselves to the American isolationists. Japan, in alliance with Germany and Italy, (the so-called Axis), extended its empire in East Asia. Roosevelt, viewing these moves as part of Axis world aggression, began to deny Japan supplies essential to its war making. To Roosevelt's angered surprise, the Japanese, on December 7, 1941, struck Pearl Harbour, Hawaii.

On December 8, at Roosevelt's request, Congress voted a war resolution within four hours; on December 11, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. One of the immediate problems after Pearl Harbour was to build up massive production for war.

Roosevelt met with Churchill in a number of wartime conferences. Debate at the early conferences centred upon the question of a landing in France; but the British succeeded in postponing this until the time was right. The great Normandy invasion was launched in June 1944.

Prior to this the United States followed the British lead and invaded North Africa in November 1942, went on to invade Sicily in July 1943, and Italy in September 1943.

At Casablanca, Morocco, in January 1943, Roosevelt, and Churchill, proclaimed the their determination that their should be an unconditional surrender of the Axis.

Roosevelt seemed to get along well with Stalin when he and Churchill first met with the Soviet leader at Teheran, but it is very difficult believe that Roosevelt did not know the extent of Stalin's crimes against his own people during the 30's and thus the nature of the man they were dealing with. Roosevelt in November 1943 at the Teheran Big 3 conference did not understand how the peace they were about to negotiate with Germany would leave the Soviet Union dominant in Europe.

By February 1945, when the Big Three met again at Yalta in the Crimea, the war seemed almost over in Europe. As for Japan, the United States envisaged at least another 18 months of appalling fighting and losses.

The advent of the atomic bomb used by Truman against the Japanese brought that war to a swift end. Roosevelt planned and saw the birth of the United Nations. He planned to attend a conference of 50 nations at San Francisco, opening April 25, 1945, to draft a United Nations charter. But, since January 1944, his health had been declining. He nonetheless stood for election for a fourth term - his opponent being Gov. Thomas E. Dewey of New York. Roosevelt won.

He went to Warm Springs for a rest, and died of a massive cerebral haemorrhage on April 12th 1945.

The world owes as great a debt to Roosevelt and the people of the USA, as it does to Churchill and the British.





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