Quote of the Day: FDR’s Four Freedoms


Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the State of the Union speech for 1941 on January 6.  Eleven months and one day later, Japan attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. I have been fascinated by Roosevelt’s clear statement of the freedoms he thought worth fighting for, especially considering that most Americans at that moment did not consider it desirable or probable that the U.S. would get involved in the war that raged across the Pacific and Atlantic.

FDR and Churchill, August 9, 1941, aboard U.S.S. Augusta

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, August 9, 1941; aboard the U.S.S. Augusta, in the Atlantic. Library of Congress.

Here is an excerpt of the speech, the final few paragraphs:

I have called for personal sacrifice, and I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call. A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my budget message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

If the Congress maintains these principles the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
To that new order we oppose the greater conception — the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.

To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

This speech inspired Norman Rockwell to create a series of paintings in tribute to the four freedoms, which paintings were used as posters for War Bond drives. North Dakota has on-line lesson plans to accompany the speech and paintings.

Exercise your freedom to share:


Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

About these ads

11 Responses to Quote of the Day: FDR’s Four Freedoms

  1. […] Near the end of the speech on January 6, 1941, Roosevelt explained why freedom needed to be fought for, what was important to us, as Americans in the freedom of others in other nations. […]

    Like

  2. [...] Near the end of the speech on January 6, 1941, Roosevelt explained why freedom needed to be fought for, what was important to us, as Americans in the freedom of others in other nations. [...]

    Like

  3. [...] “Four Freedoms” in an earlier post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub Norman Rockwell, poster of his paintings on the Four Freedoms (Library of Congress image). This is part of what the Maine Tea Party Republicans objected to. [...]

    Like

  4. Ed Darrell says:

    Jenn,

    That’s cool. Glad you found it. Click on the photo and it’ll take you to the Library of Congress site. If you want to buy a print from them, you may.

    But they might also be interested in the history — as I am. Is your great uncle still alive? Do you have more information you can share about the shot, the incident?

    Thanks.

    Like

  5. JennBoop says:

    I came across your blog in searching for this photo online. It was taken by my Great Uncle M/Sgt. J.D. Meeks. Seems he was the only photographer on board.

    Like

  6. Ed Darrell says:

    I don’t think they can be fully reconciled. That was one place the revolution Roosevelt spoke of, hadn’t yet reached.

    But they were high values with Roosevelt. I just finished a three-day conference analyzing the debate Hoover and Roosevelt had from 1928 through 1939 on the direction of America. That included the 1939 and 1940 State of the Union addresses — and the themes are there, too, just not as ably realized in words.

    The Japanese internment was, I hope, a blip, a glitch, a vestige of previous racism. I hope.

    Like

  7. Each year I conduct several groups through the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.

    The students have no idea of the history of WWII except from movies like, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and , ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. Additionally they have no concept of what a depression is.

    Most students, however, did know of President Roosevelt because he was a character in their school production of, ‘Annie’. (‘Annie’ is a great way to introduce elementary and middle school students to FDR and the Great Depression).

    It’s my responsibility to interpret the memorials in an accurate and engaging way.
    There are sp many themes to this memorial: Depression, War, Civil Rights, Rights of the disabled, NRA/WPA Programs, First Ladies and their impact on the Presidnecy and country, Contrasts of leadership between Roosevelt and Hitler, and Water.

    I’m not a great fan of FDR, (I am a great admirer of Sir Winston Churchill and have two dozen books by or about him in my library.) and yet I need to introduce him in a positive light to my younger students.

    But sometimes it galls me.

    You’ve included the text of FDR’s great Four Freedoms Speech. It is probably the first time I have had the occasion to read it through thoroughly.

    These are excerpts that truly struck me:

    Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch.

    This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.

    How do you reconcile those words with Executive Order 9066?

    Like

  8. Each year I conduct several groups through the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC.

    The students have no idea of the history of WWII except from movies like, ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and , ‘Flags of Our Fathers’. Additionally they have no concept of what a depression is.

    Most students, however, did know of President Roosevelt because he was a character in their school production of, ‘Annie’. (‘Annie’ is a great way to introduce elementary and middle school students to FDR and the Great Depression).

    It’s my responsibility to interpret the memorials in an accurate and engaging way.
    There are so many themes that can be applied to the FDR memorial: Depression, War, Civil Rights, Rights of the disabled, NRA/WPA programs, First Ladies and their iinfluence on the President, Contrasts of leadership between Roosevelt and Hitler, and Water.

    I’m not a great fan of FDR, (I am a great admirer of Sir Winston Churchill and have two dozen books by or about him in my library.) and yet I need to introduce him in a positive light to my younger students.

    But sometimes it galls me that people lionize him.

    You’ve included the text of FDR’s great Four Freedoms Speech. It is probably the first time I have had the occasion to read it through thoroughly.

    These are excerpts that truly struck me:

    Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch.

    This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere.

    How do you reconcile those words with Executive Order 9066?

    The Tour Marm

    Like

  9. I am in 9th. Let you know in 2 yrs if they teach it or not.

    Like

  10. Ed Darrell says:

    It’s in the texts for 11th grade history in Texas. Sorta.

    But you’re right. It seemed to me that the interesting stuff never got taught at school, so I always supplemented from other history books. I’m sure it drove my teachers crazy, but it got me through history in fine form.

    Ultimately the old “Chinese proverb” applies to learning history, too: Teacher just opens the door; the student must walk through.

    We’re on our own to learn history.

    Like

  11. Cool! Why don’t they teach us cool stuff like THIS!

    Like

Play nice in the Bathtub -- splash no soap in anyone's eyes.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,339 other followers

%d bloggers like this: