Who was President of the United States during the bombing of Pearl Harbor?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Democratic Party nominee, launched his first presidential campaign against President Herbert Hoover. The key issue was how to end the Great Depression, and Roosevelt's promise to create "a new deal for the American People" led him to be elected and inaugurated into the office of President of the United States in 1933. In 1936, President Roosevelt launched his re-election campaign against Alf Landon, Governor of Kansas, and won by a landslide, leading to Roosevelt's second inauguration in 1937. Roosevelt's second out of three historic terms lasted until 1941, and he was already due to be re-inaugurated in January, 1942 (Miller Center, University of Virginia, "Franklin D. Roosevelt: Campaigns and Elections"). Only one month prior to Roosevelt's third inauguration, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; the precise date of the bombing was December 7, 1941.

In the morning, just prior to 8 AM, Japanese fighter planes by the hundreds bombed America's naval base stationed in Pearl Harbor, in the island of Oahu, near Honolulu, Hawaii. Bombs fell for two hours and annihilated 20 naval ships, including 8 battleships, and 200 naval airplanes. The bombing also killed over 2,000 US military personnel and wounded 1,000 others (History, "Pearl Harbor"). In his address to Congress on December 8th, President Roosevelt called December 7, 1941, "a date that would live in infamy" (History, "This Day in History: FDR reacts to news of Pearl Harbor bombing"). On that day, Congress also voted nearly unanimously to enter World War II, the only nay vote coming from pacifist Jeanette Rankin, Representative of Montana. On December 8th, after the Congressional vote, President Roosevelt also addressed the American people, saying, "I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again" ("Pear Harbor").

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