December 7th, 1941, was the date that was to live in infamy, as mentioned by F.D. Roosevelt in his Pearl Harbor speech. Overall, the speech was quite straightforward in its goal: assurance to the public that USA would take all measures to defend itself and make sure that such treachery would never occur again. However, he mentioned how the Americans had already formed their opinions. This creates curiosity as to how was the president so sure of the opinions of the people of USA just a day after the attack? Moreover, what was the reaction in public after the attacks and did the people support taking up arms?

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    What has your preliminary research shown? Presidents try to lead opinion, not follow it – MCW Feb 13 '19 at 17:48
  • in the pearl harbor wiki it says that a gallup poll immediately before pearl harbor had 52% of Americans saying war with Japan was very likely, only 21% had not formed their opinion yet. Also i would say the mass enlistment that occured the day after would lend credence to the idea that americans most definitely did support taking up arms. – ed.hank Feb 13 '19 at 21:19
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    The poll taken a week after showed a whopping 97% approved of the declaration of war. With opinion that unanimous, it's not surprising that a savvy politician like FDR would have a sense of this. – Gort the Robot Feb 13 '19 at 22:10

It was, of course, impossible for him to know what was in peoples’ heads. He was making an assumption and providing leadership. He knew good and well that Japan’s international aggression - as well as Germany’s - would ultimately lead to conflict. He was trying to edge the country toward war, in spite of a strong isolationist movement in the US.

Pearl Harbor gave Roosevelt the casus beli he needed to bring America into the war. I think he could also rely on the reaction that Americans would have to a sneak attack that took place during negotiations with the Japanese Empire.

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    Not only that. Opinion polls didn't matter 4 days later when Hitler declared war on the US as well. The US was at war on two fronts, whether its citizens liked it or not. – Denis de Bernardy Feb 13 '19 at 22:26
  • @Denis de Bernardy: But as a practical matter, the US could have simply ignored Hitler's declaration of war. The Germans could do nothing to the US, except to sink merchant ships bound to Britain, which they were doing anyway. – jamesqf Feb 14 '19 at 0:29
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    @jamesqf huh? Ignore the declaration from a country that was taking over Europe? The country that we were funding a war against via Britain? While perhaps true in the sense that onc can ignore things, there was zero chance Roosevelt would have ignored Germany’s declaration of war. – DBWeinstein Feb 14 '19 at 0:33
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    @dwstein: That's the point. You had Roosevelt looking for a reason to get more involved in the war. Without that, there would be the alternatives of either just continuing to bankroll Britain, or (as the America First faction wanted) just remain neutral. – jamesqf Feb 15 '19 at 4:03

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