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Letter signed by FDR requesting that money from the “Emergency Fund for the President” be disbursed for recovery after Pearl Harbor, December 12, 1941

U.S. National Archives

U.S. National Archives

The “Emergency Fund for the President,” titled differently at different times, is money reserved for a President’s unanticipated needs. The emergency funds have been used under a variety of circumstances that affect national interests such as disasters, security threats, and national defense. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his $100 million “Emergency Fund for the President” to recover, mobilize, and protect the country as it moved from peace to war. As these two records illustrate, with the stroke of a pen, the President can bring welcome relief or implement policies that will drastically disrupt the lives of many.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shocked and outraged the nation. Congress declared war against Japan the following day. Roosevelt quickly deployed his emergency fund to aid Hawaii and help with its recovery after the attack.

A couple months later, on February 6, 1942, President Roosevelt’s signature allocated more funds for “the removal of enemy aliens….and and temporary aid to enemy aliens or their dependents who have been removed.”

National Archives, Records of the Bureau of Accounts (Treasury)

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  • Title: Letter signed by FDR requesting that money from the “Emergency Fund for the President” be disbursed for recovery after Pearl Harbor, December 12, 1941

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