This speech delivered by President Franklin Roosevelt on January 6, 1941, became known as his "Four Freedoms Speech," due to a short closing portion describing the President's vision in which the American ideals of individual liberties were extended throughout the world.
Very early in his political career, as state senator and later as Governor of
New York, President Roosevelt was concerned with human rights in the broadest
sense. During 1940, stimulated by a press conference in which he discussed long-range
peace objectives, he started collecting ideas for a speech about various rights
and freedoms. In his Annual Message to Congress of January 6, 1941, he asked the
people to work hard to produce armaments for the democracies of Europe, to pay
higher taxes, and to make other sacrifices. Also, in memorable phrases, he envisioned
a better future, founded upon four freedoms: the "four essential human freedoms,"
some traditional and some new ones. The four freedoms he outlined were freedom
of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. As America
became engaged in World War II, painter Norman Rockwell did a series of paintings illustrating the four freedoms as international war goals
that went beyond just defeating the Axis powers. The paintings went on a national
tour to raise money for the war effort. After the war, the four freedoms appeared
again imbedded in the Charter of the United Nations.