Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter to the Speaker of the House on a Proposed Referendum to Declare War.

January 06, 1938

My dear Mr. Speaker:

In response to your request for an expression of my views respecting the proposed resolution calling for a referendum vote as a prerequisite for a declaration of war, I must frankly state that I consider that the proposed amendment would be impracticable in its application and incompatible with our representative form of government.

Our government is conducted by the people through representatives of their own choosing. It was with singular unanimity that the founders of the republic agreed upon such free and representative form of government as the only practical means of government by the people.

Such an amendment to the Constitution as that proposed would cripple any President in his conduct of our foreign relations, and it would encourage other nations to believe that they could violate American rights with impunity.

I fully realize that the sponsors of this proposal sincerely believe that it would be helpful in keeping the United States out of war. I am convinced it would have the opposite effect.

Yours very sincerely,

The Honorable

William B. Bankhead,

Speaker of the

House of Representatives

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to the Speaker of the House on a Proposed Referendum to Declare War. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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