Coalition Government and National Unity

October 17, 1939

Report Outline
Adjournment of Partisanship in War Crisis
Coalition Cabinets in European Democracies
Past Efforts to Adjourn Politics in United States

Adjournment of Partisanship in War Crisis

President Roosevelt's Appeal for National Unity

In A Radio Address to the nation on the night of September 3, 1939, a few hours after Great Britain and France had declared war, President Roosevelt asked that “partisanship and selfishness be adjourned” in the United States during the war emergency and that “national unity be the thought that underlies all others.” In his message to the special session of Congress, September 21, the President said; “These perilous days demand cooperation between us without trace of partisanship. Our acts must be guided by one single hard-headed thought—keeping America out of this war.”

The day before the special session met, the President held a “national unity conference” at the White House, attended by leaders of both the Democratic and the Republican parties in Congress and by Alfred M. Landon and Frank Knox, Republican candidates for President and Vice President in 1936. According to a joint statement: “The conference with unanimous thought discussed the primary objective of keeping the United States neutral and at peace. There was complete accord that in congressional and executive action the whole subject and its many ramifications be dealt with in a wholly nonpartisan spirit.”

President Roosevelt's action in consulting leaders of both parties on methods of maintaining American neutrality, together with his appeal for an “adjournment of partisanship” on this issue and related questions, signify his belief that during a period of national emergency the normal processes of government stand in need of modification through (1) an abatement of interparty politics and (2)closer cooperation between the legislative and executive branches. In Roosevelt's view, the national interest requires that methods of maintaining American neutrality be considered on their merits, without regard to possible party advantage, and that conflicts between the legislature and the executive be reduced to a minimum, in order that the nation's foreign policy may be clear, consistent, and forceful.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
World WarII Catalysts
Oct. 17, 1939  Coalition Government and National Unity
Oct. 03, 1939  Present and Proposed Neutrality Legislation
May 10, 1939  Demands of the European Dictators
Apr. 01, 1939  American Neutrality Policy and the Balance of Power
Jan. 10, 1939  Nazi Objectives in Eastern Europe
Oct. 18, 1938  Changing European Political Alignments
Jan. 27, 1938  The Spread of Dictatorship
Oct. 21, 1937  Neutrality vs. Sanctions
Feb. 05, 1937  Germany's Demand for Colonies
Dec. 04, 1935  Revision of American Neutrality Policy
May 06, 1935  The Great Powers and the Danubian Problem
Jan. 16, 1935  Neutrality Policy of the United States
Jun. 04, 1928  The International Cartel Movement
Congress Actions
Powers and History of the Presidency
War and Conflict
World War II