Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
"A Date Which Will Live in Infamy"
The First Typed Draft of Franklin D. Roosevelt's War Address
This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.
- Era 8-The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
- Standard 3A-Demonstrate understanding of the international background of World War II.
This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.
- Standard IV.A.1.-Explain how nation-states interact with each other.
- Standard IV.B.2.-Evaluate, take, and defend positions about how United States foreign policy is made and the means by which it is carried out.
Share this exercise with your history, government, and language arts colleagues.
Analyzing the Document
- Ask students to define each of the following vocabulary terms as used in
this speech: infamy, premeditated, implications, onslaught, uttermost, mincing,
- Place students in groups of two or three, and ask each group to find examples
in Roosevelt's address of these techniques for enhancing the effect of a speech:
repetition, alliteration, emotionally charged words, appeal to self-preservation,
and assurance of moral superiority.
- Lead a class discussion on these questions: To whom was this speech addressed?
What appeals are made to each group?
- Help students compare the handwritten changes with the original typed draft.
Ask each student to select three changes from this draft of the speech and explain
ether the changes strengthened or weakened the address, considering the audiences
they have identified.
A written document analysis worksheet is available.
- Bring in a recording of Roosevelt delivering this six-minute address. Duplicate
and distribute copies of the Sound Recording
Analysis Worksheet for students, provide them with the setting, and ask them
to complete the worksheet.
Part of the recording is available online:
For Further Investigation
- Ask students to compare and contrast Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy"
address with Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech before the Virginia
Convention. They should include the following suggestions:
- Describe the setting of each speech.
- Find examples in Henry's speech of allusion, hyperbole, onomatopoeia, rhetorical questioning, metaphor, repetition, and alliteration.
- Examine Roosevelt's speech for examples of these literary devices.
- Recognizing that both speeches are outstanding examples of war addresses, consider how they are different and how they are similar.
- Decide why each of these speeches was effective.
- Decide which speech you believe is most effective and explain why.
- Ask students to interview a person who heard President Roosevelt deliver
the "Day of Infamy" address and to write an article about the experience.
Students should ask the following questions of the interviewee for their articles:
- How old were you and where were you at the time of the address?
- What do you recall about your feelings toward U.S. involvement in the war before Pearl Harbor?
- What were you doing when news of Pearl Harbor broke?
- What was your reaction to the news of Pearl Harbor, and what, if anything, did you do upon hearing the news?
- How did President Roosevelt sound making the speech?
- What were your reactions to the speech in feelings and deeds?
Roosevelt's speech is also featured in the National Archives Online Exhibit Hall.
Additional documents related to President Roosevelt and World War II, including
the reading copy of Roosevelt's speech, are available through the National Archives Catalog National Archives Identifier:
The National Archives Catalog replaces its prototypes, the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL). You can still perform a keyword, digitized image and location search. The online catalog's advanced functionalities also allow you to search by organization, person, or topic.
The online catalog is a searchable database that contains information about a wide variety of NARA holdings across the country. You can use the online catalog to search record descriptions by keywords or topics and retrieve digital copies of selected textual documents, photographs, maps, and sound recordings related to thousands of topics.
Currently, about 80% of NARA's vast holdings have been described in the online catalog. Thousands of digital images can be searched in the online catalog. In keeping with NARA's Strategic Plan, the percentage of holdings described in the online catalog will grow continually.
This lesson plan and 42 others are available in Teaching With Documents, Volume2, a publication now available from the National Archives and Records Administration.