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Analysis of Franklin Roosevelt's Infamy Speech

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 884 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Purpose and Audience

Speaker is former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was given at the White House directed to his vice president, the speaker, Members of the Senate, and the House of Representatives. It was broadcasted by radio to the American people and around the world, also being recorded on film. It was given on December 8, 1941. President Roosevelt is trying to get the Congress to say that a state of war be declared between the United States and Japan.

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Content and Tone1

President Roosevelt said, “The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) The same day as the Pearl Harbor bombing, Japan also attacked Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, Philippine Islands, Wake Island, and Midway Island. “The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) The United States was at peace with Japan, communicating with their Japanese ambassador, giving no threat or hint of war or armed attack. He states that, “[it’s] obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) The speech conveys an attitude of betrayal and of anguish.


The speech given by President Roosevelt has a clear beginning, middle, and end. There wasn’t a lot of repetition in his speech. The only part that he repeated, although not word for word, is, “Since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) The vocabulary he used was appropriate. The United States didn’t provoke Japan into attacking them, instead, the United States was doing the exact opposite. They were aiming for peace. He used the word “dastardly” in his speech, meaning cowardly; meanly base; sneaking. To him, the Japanese were cowardly, attacking without warning. His overall vocabulary is scholarly, but also not too scholarly that the average American citizen could understand what he was talking about. The wording was very simple, so that it’s meaning couldn’t be misunderstood or misinterpreted.


The first impression that President Roosevelt created is professionalism. He addressed the main audience needed to approve of the state of war declaration between the United States and Japan. He started off by saying that the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Japan. The United States is the victim of Japan’s violence. President Roosevelt dressed in a black tailored suit, white button up shirt, black tie, and black socks and dress shoes (it was in black and white). He has a very professional appearance.
Logos, Pathos, and Ethos

Logos was used in President Roosevelt’s speech by stating facts. He uses repetition to solidify his points. He repeats the phrase, “Last Night, Japanese forces attacked…” as a method of both evoking emotion but also to solidify and validate his point. He mentions that the attack that happened caused severe damage to the United States military and naval forces. He states that many American lives were lost. He says that, even after the Pearl Harbor bombing, American ships were reportedly torpedoed between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Pathos was used in his speech through the vocabulary he chose. He used the words “deliberately” and “suddenly”, when talking about Japan attacking the United States. It gives emotion to American citizens that it wasn’t expected, and it was done on purpose, against the United States. He describes the date as “a date that will live in infamy.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) The word infamy not only suggests the severity of the attacks, but also the affect the attacks will have on the future of the country. They are the victims of Japan’s cruelty, along with other countries. He uses the word “deliberately” again, while talking about the Japanese Government deceiving the United States.

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In regard to Ethos, he states, “I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense…no matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” (Chan, 2016) (Roosevelt, 1941) He talks about his character in his desire to do everything he can to protect the American people. He then talks about America’s character in their “righteous” desire to fulfill absolute victory against Japan.


  • Chan, M. (2016, December 07). Franklin Roosevelt Infamy Speech: Pearl Harbor Transcript. Retrieved May 14, 2019, from http://time.com/4593483/pearl-harbor-franklin-roosevelt-infamy-speech-attack/
  • Roosevelt, F. D. (1941) Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York Transcript. [Pdf] Retrieved May 14, 2019, from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afccal000483/.


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