In August 1941, Roosevelt and Churchill met and developed the Atlantic Charter, which committed both nations to a postwar world of democracy, nonaggression, free trade, economic advancement, and freedom of the seas. Churchill later said that FDR “made it clear that he would look for an ‘incident’ which would justify him in opening hostilities” with Germany.
In early September, a German submarine, or U-boat, fired on an American destroyer that had been radioing the U-boat’s position to the British. Roosevelt promptly responded by ordering American ships to follow a “shoot-on-sight” policy toward German submarines. The Germans escalated hostilities the following month, targeting two American destroyers. One of them, the Reuben James, sank after being torpedoed, killing over 100 sailors. As the end of 1941 drew near, Germany and the United States continued a tense standoff.