What was the context in which Roosevelt delivered the "Four Freedoms" speech?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected for a third term as President of the United States, something no other President had done, he gave a State of the Union speech that became known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. As we entered January 1941, much of the world was at war. President Roosevelt could see that the way events were unfolding, we were likely heading for an entrance into the war on the side of the Allies.

President Roosevelt knew if we joined World War II, we would be helping Great Britain fight against Germany, Italy, and Japan. President Roosevelt wanted to make the argument for entering the war by indicating how we needed to fight to protect four basic freedoms everybody should have. These freedoms were freedom from fear and want as well as freedom of speech and worship. President Roosevelt also knew we needed to support Great Britain because they were fighting against countries that were taking away these four freedoms from their people. President Roosevelt knew our fate was tied to Great Britain’s fate. President Roosevelt also knew we had to continue to help Great Britain before we entered the war.

President Roosevelt knew he had to prepare the American people as well as Congress for all of these scenarios. This speech was one way he could do that.

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