The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War by A.J. BaimeIn 1941, as Hitler’s threat loomed ever larger, President Roosevelt realized he needed weaponry to fight the Nazis—most important, airplanes—and he needed them fast. So he turned to Detroit and the auto industry for help.
The Arsenal of Democracy tells the incredible story of how Detroit answered the call, centering on Henry Ford and his tortured son Edsel, who, when asked if they could deliver 50,000 airplanes, made an outrageous claim: Ford Motor Company would erect a plant that could yield a “bomber an hour.” Critics scoffed: Ford didn’t make planes; they made simple, affordable cars. But bucking his father’s resistance, Edsel charged ahead. Ford would apply assembly-line production to the American military’s largest, fastest, most destructive bomber; they would build a plant vast in size and ambition on a plot of farmland and call it Willow Run; they would bring in tens of thousands of workers from across the country, transforming Detroit, almost overnight, from Motor City to the “great arsenal of democracy.” And eventually they would help the Allies win the war.
Drawing on exhaustive research from the Ford Archives, the National Archives, and the FDR Library, A. J. Baime has crafted an enthralling, character-driven narrative of American innovation that has never been fully told, leaving readers with a vivid new portrait of America—and Detroit—during the war.
Becoming the Arsenal of Democracy
This is not a fireside chat on war. It is a talk on national security; because the nub of the whole purpose of your President is to keep you now; and your children later, and your grandchildren much later, out of a last? Tonight, in the presence of a world crisis, my mind goes back eight years ago to a night in the midst of a domestic crisis. It was a time when the wheels of American industry were grinding to a full stop, when the whole banking system of our country had ceased to function. I well remember that while I sat in my study in the White House, preparing to talk with the people of the United States, I had before my eyes the picture of all those Americans with whom I was talking. I saw the workmen in the mills, the mines, the factories; the girl behind the counter; the small shopkeeper; the farmer doing his spring plowing; the widows and the old men wondering about their life's savings.
Hitler took the same view in his public speeches, but privately he knew the clock was ticking. Germany would have to achieve victory fast, before American production had time to ramp up. Hitler was right. The Great Depression had slowed down many American industries, but they were far from dead. Even in , when the European war had yet to begin and the United States was dealing with an economic recession, the national income in America was nearly double the national incomes of Germany, Japan, and Italy combined. Americans also produced more steel than Germany that year and mined almost double the amount of coal.
Arsenal of Democracy was a phrase used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt — to describe the United States as he tried to arouse popular support for sending military aid to nations fighting against the Axis powers Germany , Italy, and Japan , among others during World War II — Reelected to an unprecedented third term in November of , Roosevelt had made an unqualified campaign pledge to keep the U. But by the end of the year Great Britain lacked sufficient capital to pay for war materials necessary to defend itself against German air and naval attack. Roosevelt, speaking to the nation during a fireside radio broadcast on December 29, , told the American people how their country's security hinged on the survival of Great Britain. The president explained that the United States must become "the great arsenal of democracy" in the struggle against global tyranny and dictatorship. In March Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act, which gave the chief executive broad authority to provide Britain and its allies with munitions, petroleum, industrial materials, agricultural products, and miscellaneous other goods and services that deemed in the interest of U.
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We couldn't find any results for your search. Search the web. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a radio broadcast delivered on December 29, Roosevelt promised to help the United Kingdom fight Nazi Germany by giving them military supplies while the United States stayed out of the actual fighting. The announcement was made a year before the Attack on Pearl Harbor, at a time when Germany had occupied much of Europe and threatened Britain. Germany was allied with Italy and Japan.
Two days after Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany, President Roosevelt issued a proclamation of neutrality and ordered the suspension of munitions sales to all belligerents. But Roosevelt stopped short of asking that Americans remain emotionally neutral in the European conflict. FDR knew that the only chance Britain and France would have to defeat the German Reich was to have ample supplies of weaponry. He immediately began to press Congress to repeal the arms embargo. The request was simple. Allow trade of munitions with belligerent nations on a "cash and carry" basis. There would be no danger to American shipping if the Allies had to carry the supplies on their own ships.