Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Deal Postage Stamps: FDR's Four Freedoms

Above: On January 6, 1941, President Roosevelt gave a State of the Union speech that is now known as the Four Freedoms Speech. In addition to outlining four essential freedoms for all people (detailed below), Roosevelt also said "there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are: Equality of opportunity for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all. The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living." Image from personal collection.

Above: "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." - FDR. Image from personal collection.

Above: "The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way - everywhere in the world." - FDR. Image from personal collection.

Above: "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." - FDR. Image from personal collection.

Above: "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." - FDR. Image from personal collection.

Roosevelt said that his four proposed freedoms were "no vision of a distant millennium," but "a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation." On this point he was wrong of course. Even the 60 million or more deaths of World War II could not ensure a world with these four basic freedoms. In the United States, for example, conservative politicians have fought tooth and nail to deny the expansion of affordable health insurance to low-income citizens, thereby prolonging want. Still, Roosevelt's Four Freedoms could be part of a larger, more comprehensive movement in the future - when humanity is ready to put aside anger, hatred, greed, and insinuations of laziness towards anyone who isn't rich. 

"Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere."

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