What are the basic principles that Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt discuss (between her January 1, 1941, My Day column and his "Four Freedoms" speech)? How are these ideas connected to human rights?

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Presented less than a week apart in early 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's State of the Union address and Eleanor Roosevelt's January 1 My Day column both acknowledge the rising turmoil of the Second World War, which had already erupted elsewhere and by the end of the year, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would also engulf the United States. Both the president's speech and the first lady's newspaper column place a strong emphasis on the importance of the safeguarding of human rights.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote the syndicated newspaper column My Day six days a week from 1935 to 1962. She only paused for a period of four days in 1945 after the death of her husband. On January 1, 1941, she acknowledges the grief that the spreading war has caused to many people around the world. She notes that in England and elsewhere, oppressed people are uniting in common cause and that people in the United States are taking responsibility for their own welfare. She states that "happiness is hard to achieve in a world where war and famine and poverty and injustice still hold sway." She then delineates essential human rights that are worth fighting for:

Justice for all, security in certain living standards, a recognition of the dignity and the right of the individual human being without regard to his race, creed, or color—these are things for which vast numbers of our citizens will willingly sacrifice themselves.

President Roosevelt wrote his State of the Union address when much of Europe had already fallen to Germany's Third Reich. He realized that it was necessary for the United States to eventually support Great Britain and the Allies, although many Americans still clung to isolationism. With this in mind, his speech was crafted to express the necessity of American involvement in the war and the escalation of American industry to reflect wartime needs.

At the end, he delineated four freedoms that people throughout the world had the right to enjoy. All of these freedoms were and are essential human rights. They include freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want through worldwide economic understandings, and freedom from fear through a worldwide reduction in armaments.

We can see, then, that both the newspaper column and the speech place a strong emphasis on the human rights for which the United States and the world fought during World War II.

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