What forces did President Franklin D. Roosevelt feel endanger the freedoms of Americans?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The first answer is very nicely detailed, but I wonder if you are asking about the same speech that you asked about in your previous question.  In that speech (the 1944 State of the Union Address), President Roosevelt identified another threat to American freedom.

In 1944, what Roosevelt saw was a domestic threat.  He believed that "rightist reaction" to the programs of the New Deal and to the greater involvement of the government in the economy was a real threat to American freedoms.  In fact, he felt that such reaction could negate the victories won by the US in WWII.  As he says in this address,

...if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called "normalcy" of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In his historic 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt elaborated on themes felt across the nation in the wake of the Great Depression, with World War II on the horizon. He created a paradigm known as "The Four Freedoms," including freedoms of speech and worship, and from want and fear. These became rallying cries for the war effort, for the fledgling Progressive movement, and for the new nostalgia leading through the War and into the Fifties.

At the opening, he states:

Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.
(Roosevelt, "The Four Freedoms," americanrhetoric.com)

This first threat is the possibility of isolation from world events, allowing others to gain power over our allies and then over us. Either by war or by economics, the U.S. cannot afford to be left behind as the world progresses. He then states:

...the peace of 1919 was far less unjust than the kind of pacification which began even before Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that seeks to spread over every continent today.
(Roosevelt, "The Four Freedoms," americanrhetoric.com)

This is a direct reference to the Munich Agreement of 1938, in which British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain attempted to negotiate with Adolf Hitler; his concession allowed Hitler to greatly expand Germany's power base. Roosevelt recognized the futility of negotiation with a tyranny, and was proven correct when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor at the end of that year. Finally, he state:

...every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed... either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda... in nations that are still at peace... blott[ing] out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small. And the assailants are still on the march...
(Roosevelt, "The Four Freedoms," americanrhetoric.com)

Forces against freedom were not confined to attacking America, but were using their influence across the world, bit by bit, to undermine the spread of Democracy, which allowed freedom and prosperity. Aside from his political agenda, here Roosevelt shows an uncommon understanding of the evils that motivate tyranny and dictatorship.


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