Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want.
Freedom from fear.
Our Documents: Franklin Roosevelt's Annual Address to Congress - The
January 6, 1941
Roosevelt was elected president for an unprecedented third term in 1940
because at the time the world faced unprecedented danger, instability, and
uncertainty. Much of Europe had fallen to the advancing German Army and
Great Britain was barely holding its own. A great number of Americans
remained committed to isolationism and the belief that the United States
should continue to stay out of the war, but President Roosevelt understood
Britain's need for American support and attempted to convince the American
people of the gravity of the situation.
annual address to Congress on January 6, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt presented
his reasons for American involvement, making the case for continued aid to
Great Britain and greater production of war industries at home. In helping
Britain, President Roosevelt stated, the United States was fighting for the
universal freedoms that all people possessed. As America entered the war
these "four freedoms" - the freedom of speech, the freedom of
worship, the freedom from want, and the freedom from fear - symbolized
America's war aims and gave hope in the following years to a war-wearied
people because they knew the were fighting for freedom.