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Declaration of War gavel, December 11, 1941

On December 11, 1941, three days after declaring war on Japan, the House approved declarations of war on Germany and Italy; earlier that day Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas used this gavel in the House during the historic roll call vote on those war resolutions.

Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives, Gift of Irving Swanson

Declaration of War gavel

World War II: Declaring War on Japan

At 7:55 a.m. on December 7, 1941, Japanese naval and air forces launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with devastating results. In less than two hours, Japanese bombers destroyed 19 American naval ships and more than 300 airplanes. A total of 2,403 Americans lost their lives; 1,178 others were wounded. Speaking before a joint session of Congress the next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested a declaration of war on Japan. Congress approved the resolution in less than an hour.

That day ended isolationism for any realist.

Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan, The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg, 1941