President Franklin Roosevelt's Annual Message (Four Freedoms) to Congress (1941)
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.