How news of the attack on Pearl Harbor broke on AP in 1941

On Dec. 7, 1941, Eugene Burns, AP’s bureau chief in Honolulu, couldn’t get out the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor because the military had taken control of all communications lines. In Washington, AP editor William Peacock got word of the attack from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s press secretary. In the language and style used by journalists of his era, Peacock dictated the details of the announcement.


WASHINGTON — White House says Japs attack Pearl Harbor.


WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (AP) — President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from the air.

The attack of the Japanese also was made on all naval and military “activities” on the island of Oahu.

The president’s brief statement was read to reporters by Stephen Early, presidential secretary. No further details were given immediately.

At the time of the White House announcement, the Japanese ambassadors, Kichisaburo Nomura and Saburo Kurusu, were at the State Department.


WASHINGTON — Second air attack reported on Army and Navy bases in Manila.

First lead Japanese

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — (AP) — Japanese air attacks on the American naval stronghold at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and on defense facilities at Manila were announced today by the White House.


Only this terse announcement came from President Roosevelt immediately, but with it there could be no doubt that the Far Eastern situation had at last exploded, that the United States was at war, and that the conflict which began in Europe was spreading over the entire world.

This disclosure had been accepted generally as an indication this country had all but given up hope that American-Japanese difficulties, arising from Japan’s aggression in the Far East, could be resolved by ordinary diplomatic procedure.


Second lead Japanese

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — (AP) — Japanese airplanes today attacked American defense bases at Hawaii and Manila, and President Roosevelt ordered the Army and Navy to carry out undisclosed orders prepared for the defense of the United States.

Announcing the president’s action for the protection of American territory, Presidential Secretary Stephen Early declared that so far as is known now the attacks were made wholly without warning — when both nations were at peace — and were delivered within an hour or so of the time that the Japanese ambassador had gone to the State Department to hand to the secretary of state Japan’s reply to the secretary’s memo of the 26th.

  • Sho Takeda

    It is curious for me to know how ignorant we Japanese are because all the information here are not conveyed to the public. And what is worse is that we do not try to know what was going on during the war. I believe that we can learn something from the past no matter how bitter it is for us. It’s been said that Japanese people are getting weaker and weaker in terms of an ability to look into our weaknesses. At that point we need to become much stronger in order to be able to strengthen ourselves after being able to know our weaknesses.
    We also need to know how japanese education and media are working since they are the strongest factors which can decide how people behave and think. We very seldom question them. We dont even care about the fact that they are potentially hiding something. Look into the past, learn something from it, and be strong enough to do that. We do have a dark history but it is a time to look into it so we can learn something from it.

  • tikibam

    You bring up so many good points Sho that are even more

    applicable to U.S. history and the selective censored

    version of events that have brainwashed so many of

    the masses. President Roosevelt betrayed America

    by purposely allowing the attack to get involved in

    WWII Unfortunately, this truth will take years before

    it becomes accepted in the mainstream. I hope more

    young people learn to discover that much history we

    are taught is through very selective filters.