Although constrained by powerful isolationist sentiment in the United States, President Roosevelt was determined to help democratic Great Britain continue the war against Nazi Germany. Even as he promised to keep the United States neutral in the European war, Roosevelt ordered the expansion of military construction and pledged--as shown in this footage--that the United States would serve as the "great arsenal of democracy." In March 1941, Congress approved Lend-Lease aid for Britain. Britain ultimately received over 31 billion dollars in military aid from the United states. The United States finally entered World War II after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Habor on December 7, 1941.
If Great Britain goes down, the Axis powers will control the continents of Europe and Asia and Africa and Australasia and the high seas. And they will be in a position to bring enormous military and naval resources against this hemisphere. It is no exaggeration to say that all of us in the Americas would be living at the point of a gun. We know now that a nation that can have peace with the Nazis only at the price of total surrender. [The] people of Europe who are defending themselves do not ask us to do their fighting. They ask us for the implements of war--the planes, the tanks, the guns, the freighters, which will enable them to fight for their liberty and our security. There is no demand for sending an American expeditionary force outside our own border. There is no intention by any member of your government to send such a force. We must be the great arsenal of democracy. For us, this is an emergency as serious as war itself.