SEPTEMBER 1, 1949
HYDE PARK, Wednesday—In two metropolitan newspapers, editorials say the most unfortunate part about the President's speech to the Legionnaires on the subject of aid to Britain is that it will not be read by the majority of the American people.
I was surprised at that statement because it seems that the economic situation in Britain is of such paramount interest to the United States that any statement touching on it should be read and understood by all the people.
We have people in this country who still feel that the Revolution needs to be fought perennially, even though the colony which once had to fight for its rights is now stronger than the country it revolted against. We have taught history in such a way that many of our young people still believe Great Britain is an enemy.
As a result of our peculiar situation in the early part of World War One, many people feel a bitterness because debts incurred by Britain and France before we entered the war have not been repaid. We have always emphasized the payment of debts by such nations as Finland and brought to the attention of our people what we thought was a particularly high type of integrity. We have put little stress on the fact that England and France could legitimately feel differently.
Without their resistance and their last ditch holding of the line against the Germans we might never have been ready to throw our force behind them and win World War One. Had we not won World War One there would have been no barrier between us and the Nazis in World War Two, for oceans are not barriers any longer.
I have heard hardheaded businessmen acknowledge the fact that our loans before we entered the First World War were simply a form of fighting the war. They said that if we had real economic acumen we would never have demanded repayment, for the recovery of those countries was far more important to us than the repayment of the money which they had borrowed in wartime.
There are qualities in both our people and in the British which are similar enough to make us feel that on basic things we think alike. In moments of great stress we have always found ourselves on the same side.
The present economic crisis is not different from any other question. The difficulties have not come to Great Britain because of the Socialist government or nationalization of industries. They have come because she stood practically alone against the Nazis while we were getting ready.
It cost her money and men and she needs both today. We have more than we would have had if Great Britain had not been there. We are going to need Great Britain in the future as we have in the past.
She will not always stand for the things that are right. Neither do we. We will find fault with each other but we cannot afford to let Great Britain go under in an economic way first because of security in a military way and second because of our similar moral standards and spiritual beliefs.
We need Great Britain and her people, and she needs us.