Statement by President Roosevelt, February 29, 1936

By the resolution approved August 31, 1935, a definite step was taken toward enabling this country to maintain its neutrality and avoid being drawn into wars involving other nations. It provided that in the event of the Executive proclaiming the existence of such a war, thereupon an embargo would attach to the exportation of arms ammunition, and implements of war destined to any belligerent country. It also authorized the Executive to warn citizens of this country against traveling as passengers on the vessels of any belligerent except at their own risk.

By the resolution I have just signed, the operation of the August resolution is extended and strengthened until May 1, 1937. A new an definite step is taken by providing in substance that, when an embargo becomes effective, obligations of any belligerent government issue after the date of the proclamation shall not be purchased or sold in this country, and no loan or credit extended to such government, but with authority to the Executive, if our interests require, to except from the prohibition commercial credits and short-time loans in aid of legal transactions. In addition, it in general exempts the other republics of this hemisphere from the operation of the law.

Following the August enactment promptly on October 5, 1935, I issued a proclamation which made effective the embargo with respect to exportations to Italy and Ethiopia, and I have now issued a new proclamation in order to meet the requirements of the new enactment.

The policies announced by the Secretary of State and myself at the time of and subsequent to the issuance of the original proclamation will be maintained in effect. It is true that the high moral duty I have urged on our people of restricting their exports of essential war materials to either belligerent to approximately the normal peacetime basis has not been the subject of legislation. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that greatly to exceed that basis, with the result of earning profits not possible during peace, and especially with the result of giving actual assistance to the carrying on of war, would serve to magnify the very evil of war which we seek to prevent. This being my view, I renew the appeal made last October to the American people that they so conduct their trade with belligerent nations that it cannot be said that they are seizing new opportunities for profit or that by changing their peacetime trade they give aid to the continuation of war.

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 314-15.

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