This nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well. Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience. I have said not once but many times that I have seen war and that I hate war; I say that again and again. I hope the United States will keep out of this war, I believe that it will. And I give you assurance and reassurance that every effort of your government will be directed toward that end. As long as it remains within my power to prevent there will be no blackout of peace in the United States.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), U.S. president. FDR Speaks authorized edition of speeches, 1933-1945 (recordings of Franklin Roosevelt's public addresses), side 5, Fireside Chat on war in Europe (Sept. 3, 1939), ed. Henry Steele Commager, Introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt, Washington Records, Inc. (1960).
FDR did not wish to make Woodrow Wilson's mistake of asking Americans to remain neutral in thought and deed. He believed that they needed to be prepared to take sides as the Axis powers threatened the very existence of democratic institutions around the world and provided a threat to U.S. security.