The Four Freedoms were goals articulated by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Monday, January 6, 1941. In an address known as the Four Freedoms speech (technically the 1941 State of the Union address), he proposed four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" ought to enjoy!
Freedom of Speech - Norman Rockwell
Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
Freedom of Worship - Norman Rockwell
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one's religion or beliefs.
Freedom from Want - Norman Rockwell
The right to an adequate standard of living is recognized as a human right in international human rights instruments and is understood to establish a minimum entitlement to food, clothing and housing at an adequate level. The right to food and the right to housing have been further defined in human rights instruments.
Freedom from Fear - Norman Rockwell
This series has been the cornerstone of retrospective art exhibits presenting the career of Rockwell, who was the most widely known and popular commercial artist of the mid-20th century. These are his best-known works, and by some accounts became the most widely distributed paintings. At one time they were commonly displayed in post offices, schools, clubs, railroad stations, and a variety of public and semi-public buildings.
Roosevelt delivered his speech 11 months before the surprise Japanese attack on U.S. forces in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii that caused the United States to declare war on Japan, December 8, 1941. The State of the Union speech before Congress was largely about the national security of the United States and the threat to other democracies from world war that was being waged across the continents in the eastern hemisphere. In the speech, he made a break with the tradition of United States non-interventionism that had long been held in the United States. He outlined the U.S. role in helping allies already engaged in warfare.
In that context, he summarized the values of democracy behind the bipartisan consensus on international involvement that existed at the time. A famous quote from the speech prefaces those values: "As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone." In the second half of the speech, he lists the benefits of democracy, which include economic opportunity, employment, social security, and the promise of "adequate health care". The first two freedoms, of speech and religion, are protected by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. His inclusion of the latter two freedoms went beyond the traditional Constitutional values protected by the U.S. Bill of Rights. Roosevelt endorsed a broader human right to economic security and anticipated what would become known decades later as the "human security" paradigm in social science and economic development. He also included the "freedom from fear" against national aggression and took it to the new United Nations he was setting up.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, excerpts from the State of the Union Address
to Congress, January 6, 1941
"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".
The declaration of the Four Freedoms as a justification for war would resonate through the remainder of the war, and for decades longer as a frame of remembrance. The Freedoms became the staple of America's war aims, and the center of all attempts to rally public support for the war. With the creation of the Office of War Information (1942), as well as the famous paintings by Norman Rockwell, the Freedoms were advertised as values central to American life and examples of American exceptionalism.
United Nations - Four Freedoms Flag
The concept of the Four Freedoms became part of the personal mission undertaken by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt regarding her inspiration behind the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, General Assembly Resolution 217A. Indeed, these Four Freedoms were explicitly incorporated into the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads, "Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed the highest aspiration of the common people...."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Speech on the Eve of Invasion of Normandy June 06, 1944
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a park designed by the architect Louis Kahn for the south point of Roosevelt Island. The Park celebrates the famous speech, and text from the speech is inscribed on a granite wall in the final design of the Park.
World War II Four Freedoms Wall in Washington DC
The Four Freedoms Award is an annual award presented to those men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to those principles which US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed in his historic speech to United States Congress on January 6, 1941, as essential to democracy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. The annual award is handed out in alternate years in New York City by the Roosevelt Institute to Americans and in Middelburg, Netherlands, by the Roosevelt Stichting to non-Americans.