FDR appeals for ship bill (11-13-41)

Brooklyn Eagle (November 13, 1941)

FDR appeals for ship bill

Sends House plea to indorse foreign policy


Washington, Nov. 13 (INS) –
In a dramatic last-minute move, President Roosevelt today asked the House to sustain his foreign policy lest rejection of it by the lower branch “cause rejoicing in the Axis nations.”

Washington, Nov. 13 (UP) –
Administration leaders from the President down fought with all the resources at their command today to muster House votes in the crucial foreign policy test on the question of sending American merchant ships to belligerent ports.

It appeared fthe vote would be a “photo finish” when the House roll is called late this afternoon.

The House presented the most dramatic and active scene in years. Before jammed galleries, speaker after speaker went to the House microphones to try to sway colleagues with speeches. Adoption of the measure would mean war, some opposition men said. If it did mean war, it would be worth it, some of the administration men replied.

Others said this new step to help Britain and defeat Hitler would help avoid necessity for an AEF.

Leaves hospital for debate

One administration speaker, white-haired Clifton Woodrum (D-VA), left naval hospital to attend the debate.

Speaker Sam Rayburn and his aides buttonholed every man whose vote they thought they might win over at the last moment.

Mr. Roosevelt and some cabinet officers were reported to be busy in the telephone.

Extra forces of guards kept under control the lines of visitors who waited for a chance at gallery seats. A woman fainted in the crush.

Party lines were split, although most Republicans opposed the administration. The question was on House adoption of Senate amendments to the Neutrality Revision Bill. The House had voted merely to arm American merchant ships. The Senate voted to let these armed ships go directly to belligerent ports.

Taber backs administration

Among the scattering of Republicans supporting the administration was John Taber of New York.

Taber declared:

As long as we are in the war, I can only vote for such measures as are designed to end it by victory. One is to surrender and pay tribute and submit to alien domination, the other is to go out and win. I have not the slightest doubt that when the people understand the situation we are in and that there is no way out except one of the two alternatives, they will choose to go about and win.

Woodrum drew applause when he said that:

…to all intents and purposes, we are at war.

He added that defeat of the Senate amendments would be a “major catastrophe.”

Rep. Allen T. Treadway (R-WA) said that he was one of 15 members now in the House who voted on Woodrow Wilson’s war resolution in 1917. He said:

The contrast between 1917 and 1941 is clear. President Wilson openly asked for war. President Roosevelt has led us step by step into war. To protect the sons of the men who fought in the last war. You must vote against the Senate amendments.

Ready to vote for war

Rep. Joe Starnes (D-AL) told the House he was ready to vote for war “if it is necessary to remove the menace” of Adolf Hitler.

Starnes said:

There can be no peace, no security for the members of the human family until Adolf Hitler and all he stands for is removed.

I for one am prepared, if it is necessary, to vote for war to remove this menace to human happiness.

Starnes said that if it became necessary for him to take a stand beside his three brothers in uniform and his son, who was just entering military service:

…I’ll stand beside them.

He added:

There are some things worse than war.

Rep. Dewey Short (R-MO) interrupted one speaker to urge that:

…we save the United States and let God save the King.

6 on inspection trip

Administration appeals for absent members to return for the neutrality revision vote had yielded nothing by the time the House convened.

Chairman Carl Vinson (D-GA) of the Naval Affairs Committee was still out of town. So were six members of a Naval Affairs Subcommittee who were on an inspection trip through Latin America.

Rep. Jack Nichols (D-OK) and Richard M. Kleberg (D-TX) were in Los Angeles and reported they were unable to get seats on a plane to the East.

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The Pittsburgh Press (November 13, 1941)

British jolted by reports of Neutrality Bill revolt

By William H. Stoneman

London, Nov. 13 –
After the brief interlude of buoyant optimism engendered by German reverses in Russia and encouraging utterances from the government, the British people were brought up with a jerk this morning by news of the U.S. Congressional revolt against revision of the Neutrality Bill.

While some of the keener students of American affairs had been perturbed by the Lewis-Roosevelt controversy, it had not entered their minds that labor trouble would assume such ominous proportions or that it would have such a mighty effect upon American foreign policy.

This morning’s headlines gave them a startling glimpse of the situation’s real possibilities.

The London Daily Mail announced:


The London Daily Express said:


The London Daily Herald declared:


The Washington correspondent of the London Times indicates that the size of the majority in favor of the amendment, “if there is one,” will not be more than 40 and describes the efforts of the opposition to swing some 65 Democratic votes to the 140 Republicans who will vote against repeal of the measure.

It is realized here that the whole international setup may be altered by the series of strikes affecting 350,000 American railway workers, at least 53,000 coal miners, the entire organization of the United Auto Workers, 12,000 men of the Bell Aircraft works and 15,000 workers on trunk telephone lines.

Irrespective of the effect upon the Neutrality Bill, it is felt that this split on the American production front will give the Japanese courage to force the issue during the coming talks in Washington, and Germany and Italy a badly-needed fill-up at a time when their own morale is lagging.