Aid bill creates wide reactions (1-11-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 11, 1941)

Proponents in Congress generally believe proposal has people’s support; Hiram Johnson typifies opponents in description – “monstrous”
By the United Press

World reaction to President Roosevelt’s all-out aid to Britain bill follows:


Proponents —

Chairman Sol Bloom (D-NY) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

It will meet with the approval of the people of this country.

Senator Tom Connally (D-TX):

I favor supplying arms and munitions to the nations fighting against aggression.

Senator Elbert D. Thomas (D-UT):

I favor the bill…. There is no need of limiting [the President] regarding the use of American vessels to carry the war materials to England.

Senate Majority Leader Alben W. Barkley (D-KY):

The bill is backed by the people.

House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX):

If we intend to aid the democracies, it appears to me this is the practical and efficient way to do it.

Opponents —

Senator Hiram Johnson (R-CA):


Senator Robert M. La Follette (P-WI):

A bill for Congress to abdicate.

Senator Robert A. Taft (R-OH):

It authorizes the President to declare war on any nation in the world.

Senator Gerald P. Nye (R-ND):

It amounts to a request for a grant of power to the President equal to a declaration of war.

Senator Ellison D. Smith (D-SC):

Not with my vote does he get these powers.

Representative Hamilton Fish (R-NY):

No good man should ask for such vast powers and no bad man should have them.

Middle-of-roaders and open-minders —

Senator Warren R. Austin (R-VT), Senate Minority Leader:

In this bill, we ought to express our determination not to part with constitutional checks on authorizations.

Senator Edwin C. Johnson (D-CO):

I shall listen with an open mind to every word of debate on it, and hope and pray that I shall be given divine guidance in determining my vote.

Senator Arthur Capper (R-KS):

I think it goes too far, but I will await developments in the Foreign Relations Committee to see what they bring out to justify this program.


Herbert Hoover:

We all wish our industries tuned up to the maximum output for our defense and for aid to other countries to defend their independence, but the practical surrender of power to take these steps that are possible under this legislation is something else. It enters the field of preservation of democracy in this country.

Alf M. Landon, 1936 Republican presidential candidate:

It is the first step toward dictatorship by Mr. Roosevelt.

Alfred E. Smith, 1928 Democratic presidential candidate:

The dictators want world supremacy, nothing less, and our only hope of staying out of the actual fighting is to furnish the British with every instrument we can make just as fast as we are able to make it.

Thomas E. Dewey, District Attorney of New York County, prominent Republican:

It would bring an end to free government in the United States and would abolish the Congress for all practical purposes.


Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (through national director Clark M. Eichelberger):

We’re committed to unqualified support of the policy enunciated by the President in his last fireside talk and in his address on the state of the Union, and we are committed to working for such legislation as the President believes essential to the implementation of this policy.

No Foreign War Committee (through chairman Verne Marshall):

It is asking for exactly that kind of dictatorial power which has so incensed him [the President] when exercised by governments elsewhere. The No Foreign Wars Committee deems it inconceivable that Congress, elected by voters who still believe themselves to be living in a republic, with a democratic form of government, will submit to such an outrageous attempt as this one to set up a dictatorship at the White House.


East —

Philadelphia Record:

President Roosevelt’s great defense program has the unqualified support of this newspaper.

Boston Globe:

If there is a big job to be done it must be put in charge of an agency that can act swiftly.

New York Times:

The terms of this bill reflect the urgency of the existing situation. But in their present form they will create grave doubts in the minds even of many who are most eager to send prompt and effective aid to Britain.

Washington Post:

Assuredly the grant of power in this respect [to aid Britain swiftly, effectively] is staggering… It would have been reassuring if the responsibility for dove-tailing our aid to Britain and our continental defense were vested in a service board of strategy headed by the President.

Mid-West —

Cleveland Plain Dealer:

We are willing to trust President Roosevelt with this tremendous amount of power. We believe he will use it wisely.

Detroit Free Press:

Will Mr. Roosevelt act on the assumption that this is our war and give away what should be paid for? Will he take the position that it is not our war and insist upon getting something in return for what he transfers to other countries? That is tremendous responsibility to repose in one man.

Des Moines Register:

All democracy recognizes the rare necessity of protecting itself by the delegation of immense power.

Kansas City Star:

Certainly there is risk in the legislation. Most people probably will agree the risk is far less than would be involved in allowing Britain to go down to defeat for lack of access to our arsenal.

Far West —

Los Angeles Times:

If the act is to be criticized, it is on the ground of extreme broadness – one certain to result in time losing controversy.

San Francisco Chronicle:

There is no more time to be lost. The thing to do is to put this plan into effect at once without further argument. The arms must get there no matter how we have to get them there.

South —

Miami Herald:

We cannot believe that they [the American people] want to place themselves in a position that would make war inevitable; give the President or any other single individual the sole right to take us into war.

Dallas News:

Congress must keep in mind the paramount issue of national security which is not concerned alone with the foes without. Within there are dangers inherent in trusting too blindly to the good qualities of none man.


Great Britain —
Authoritative quarters saw in bil an impressive demonstration of President Roosevelt’s determination; that it was the key to a British victory. Newspapers expressed delight.

Germany —
An authorized spokesman said American aid to Britain, no matter how extensive, would come too late. “England will long have been taken care of” by the time it arrives, he said.

Italy —
Popolo Di Roma, a key Fascist newspaper, asserted that the American people opposed President Roosevelt’s request for full powers; said Mr. Roosevelt represented “American warmongers” against the will of the people, and said military production couldn’t be intensified “if workers simply stand by with folded arms.” Political quarters said implementation of the bill would be an open violation of American neutrality.


Japan —
Extreme right-wing newspaper Kokumin asked the government to cancel the appointment of Admiral Kichisaburō Nomura as Ambassador to the United States, “as an indication of Japan’s firm determination against mad American anti-Japanese policies.”


Mexico —
Foreign Office keenly interested in bill; popular opinion growing that U.S. is already in the war.

Chile —
Quarters close to chancellery saw nothing strange in bill as the United States was already committed to all possible aid to Britain.

Cuba —
Newspapers headlined the bill as a “blank check;” they said editorially that it demonstrated the United States’ determination not to permit Britain to lose the war. One newspaper said the Americas “must unite to prepare for a glorious but bloody adventure.”

1 Like