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First page from President Franklin Rooseveltıs reading copy of his message to a joint session of Congress asking for a declaration of war against Japan, December 8, 1941
President Roosevelts war message contained fewer than 500 words and took less than 6 minutes to deliver. For decades the reading copy of the speech was thought to have been lost after Roosevelt returned to the White House. In 1984 an archivist found the speech among the records of the U.S. Senate. The President had departed from his usual custom of bringing his reading copy back to the White House and had either handed the speech to a Senate clerk or the clerk had picked it up from the lectern after the speech. After endorsing the back of the speech "Dec. 8, 1941, Read in joint session," he filed it with the records of the Senate.