The Infamy Speech was a speech delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress on December 8, 1941. The name derives from the first line of the speech: Roosevelt describing the previous day as \”a date which will live in infamy\”. Within an hour of the Speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan.
About Infamy Speech in brief
The Infamy Speech was a speech delivered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a Joint Session of the U. S. Congress on December 8, 1941. The speech is one of the most famous of all American political speeches. The name derives from the first line of the speech: Roosevelt describing the previous day as \”a date which will live in infamy\”. Within an hour of the Speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the United States into World War II. Roosevelt expertly employed the idea of kairos, which relates to speaking in a timely manner; this made the speech powerful and rhetorically important. Delivering his speech on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt presented himself as immediately ready to face its importance to both and the nation. The timing of his speech, in coordination with Roosevelt’s powerful rhetoric, allowed the immediate approval of Congress to go to war. The overall tone of thespeech was one of realism, with Roosevelt emphasizing his confidence in the strength of the American people to face up to the challenge of the attack. He made no attempt to paper over the great damage that had been caused to the American armed forces, noting that many American lives have been lost in the attack, and that many more would be lost in future wars. The wording was deliberately passive.
Rather than taking the active voice, Roosevelt chose to put in the foreground the object being acted upon, namely the United states, to emphasize America’s status as a victim. The theme of \”innocence violated\” was further reinforced by Roosevelt’s recounting of the ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Japan, which the president characterized as having been pursued cynically and dishonestly by the Japanese government while it was secretly preparing for war against the United. States. Roosevelt consciously sought to avoid making the sort of more abstract appeal that was issued by President Woodrow Wilson in his own speech to Congress in April 1917. He took pains to draw a symbolic link with the April 1917 declaration ofwar: when he went to Congress, he was accompanied by Edith Bolling Wilson, President Wilson’s widow. The speech followed the pattern of earlier narratives of great American defeats. The Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 and the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898 had both been the source of intense national outrage, and a determination to take the fight to the enemy. According to Sandra Silberstein, Roosevelt’s speech followed a well-established tradition of how presidents assume extraordinary powers as the commander in chief, dissent is minimized, enemies are vilified, and lives are lost.