On this date in 1943, American artist Norman Rockwell published the first of his four prints depicting “The Four Freedoms.” The prints were designed to illustrate “The Four Freedoms” that President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated in his January 6, 1941 State of the Union address: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
At the time of Roosevelt’s speech the United States had not yet entered World War II, but Roosevelt saw the dark clouds of war approaching. His speech was a call for preparedness for war and a call to provide aid to allies fighting against anti-democratic forces around the world. For Roosevelt, the four freedoms were not just American values, they were values that needed to be preserved everywhere in the world:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world. (1)
When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, 12 months after Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, the United States ended its isolationism and entered the war.
After hearing Roosevelt’s speech and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Norman Rockwell was inspired to do his part by trying to capture and illustrate the abstract ideas of the Four Freedoms in concrete, human terms. The first print, for example, depicts a scene of a local town meeting where a man wearing a plaid shirt and suede jacket stands among his fellow citizens to express his position. Rockwell based the scene on an actual town meeting that he had attended where citizens gathered to discuss plans to build a new school in their town. At the meeting, a lone dissenter named Jim Edgerton, a young blue-collar worker, stood to voice his opposition. Rockwell remembered the scene vividly because although no one at the meeting agreed with Edgerton, they still listened to him respectfully.
Each of Rockwell’s four prints appeared in the weekly magazine The Saturday Evening Post. The prints proved so popular that the United States Department of the Treasury used them to promote the sale of war bonds. The Four Freedoms Tour, which displayed the paintings around the country, raised over $130,000,000 (2).
Today’s Challenge: Your Four
What is an abstract idea that you could classify into four types or four varieties? Just as Roosevelt wrote about four types of freedoms, take an idea that you know something about and classify the idea in four distinct different types, such as four types of crime, shoppers, success, study habits, leaders, or bosses. Make sure to use a single ruling principle for classification. For example, if your topic was “English Classes” and you classified them as hard, challenging, and easy, your ruling principle for classification would be “level of difficulty.” Based on this ruling principle, it would be illogical to add a classification called “homework.” Instead create another category that fits the “level of difficulty” principle, such as “impossible.” Once you have created your four classifications based on a single ruling principle, write a definition of each one, along with specific illustrating examples that show what makes each type distinctive from the others. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
Quotation of the Day: The past is what you remember, imagine you remember, convince yourself you remember, or pretend to remember. -George Orwell