Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Excerpt from Four Freedoms Speech" (1941)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR (1882-1945) was the 32nd President of the United States. He was elected in 1932 at the height of the Great Depression, when the unemployment rate was almost twenty-five percent, and died during his fourth term in office, shortly before the end of the Second World War. FDR won landslide elections, realigning the American political map with a new Democratic Party coalition. He is primarily known for the instigating the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief, recovery, and reform at a time of uncertainty and destitution in American life.

In rhetoric and practice, FDR forged a new American liberalism which bore a striking resemblance to what John Dewey envisioned. In the “Four Freedoms” speech, FDR proposed four fundamental freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" deserve to enjoy. The speech can be seen as an amendment to the Bill of Rights, declaring an expanded set of responsibilities for the American government both at home and around the world—one which acknowledges the broad human right to economic security. The speech can be seen as an early theoretical framework for the United Nations—which FDR helped to set up over the next few years—as well as a statement of American willingness to defend its values against the Axis Powers.