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History's Happenings for December 8

War Declared!
1941

FDR asks for a Declaration of War against Japan

Given the United States' two-year-long involvement in aiding Britain in her fight with Nazi Germany, and our own political and economic measures against Japan for her aggression in Asia, it can be argued that America's entry into the War in 1941 was less than a surprise.

Further, research after the fact indicates that the attack on Pearl Harbor that memorable December 7th should also have been less than a surprise, had contemporary intelligence been translated into preparedness.

Nevertheless, when the nation received the breaking news of Jap bombs falling on Pearl, the effect was electrifying. Nothing that the Axis Powers could have done would have been better calculated to enrage an otherwise peaceful people, a people until then dedicated to staying out of the conflict.

Adding insult to injury, the nation learned that even as bombs fell, the Japanese Ambassador was approaching Secretary of State Cordell Hull with what purported to be yet another plan for peace, but which bore -- belatedly -- a warning of war.

Riding the wave of public outrage the following day, Monday, December 8th, President Franklin Roosevelt stood before the combined houses of Congress and requested a Declaration of War against the Japanese Empire. America well remembers the opening words of that speech: "Yesterday, December seventh, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy ..."

The Declaration was promptly approved by all but one Congressman ... Pacifist Jeannette Rankin of Montana cast her negative vote only to show that a great people shouldn't agree unanimously to go to war.

Less known but perhaps even more poignant were the reported, though unconfirmed, words of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who led the Pearl Harbor attack despite serious misgivings: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant, and fill him with a terrible resolve."

Birth of Eli Whitney
1765

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Washington Retreats Across Delaware
1776

General George Washington

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Lincoln Announces Plan for Reconstruction
1864

President Abraham Lincoln

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AF of L Founded
1886

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Nationalist Government Moves To Taiwan
1949

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Clinton Signs NAFTA Agreement
1993

President Bill Clinton

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