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It follows the full text transcript of
Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union
address, also called the Four
Freedom's Speech, delivered at Washington D.C. - January 6,
Members of the
I address you, the
Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress, at a
moment unprecedented in the history of the
Union. I use the word "unprecedented," because
at no previous time has American security been
as seriously threatened from without as it is
Since the permanent formation of our Government
under the Constitution, in 1789, most of the
periods of crisis in our history have related to
our domestic affairs. Fortunately, only one of
these--the four-year War Between the
States--ever threatened our national unity.
Today, thank God, one hundred and thirty million
Americans, in forty-eight States, have forgotten
points of the compass in our national unity.
It is true that prior to 1914 the United States
often had been disturbed by events in other
Continents. We had even engaged in two wars with
European nations and in a number of undeclared
wars in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean
and in the Pacific for the maintenance of
American rights and for the principles of
peaceful commerce. But in no case had a serious
threat been raised against our national safety
or our continued independence.
What I seek to convey is the historic truth that
the United States as a nation has at all times
maintained clear, definite opposition, to any
attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese
wall while the procession of civilization went
past. Today, thinking of our children and of
their children, we oppose enforced isolation for
ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.
That determination of ours, extending over all
these years, was proved, for example, during the
quarter century of wars following the French
While the Napoleonic struggles did threaten
interests of the United States because of the
French foothold in the West Indies and in
Louisiana, and while we engaged in the War of
1812 to vindicate our right to peaceful trade,
it is nevertheless clear that neither France nor
Great Britain, nor any other nation, was aiming
at domination of the whole world.
In like fashion from 1815 to 1914-- ninety-nine
years-- no single war in Europe or in Asia
constituted a real threat against our future or
against the future of any other American nation.
Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no
foreign power sought to establish itself in this
Hemisphere; and the strength of the British
fleet in the Atlantic has been a friendly
strength. It is still a friendly strength.
Even when the World War broke out in 1914, it
seemed to contain only small threat of danger to
our own American future. But, as time went on,
the American people began to visualize what the
downfall of democratic nations might mean to our
We need not overemphasize imperfections in the
Peace of Versailles. We need not harp on failure
of the democracies to deal with problems of
world reconstruction. We should remember that
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. The American people have
unalterably set their faces against that
Every realist knows that the democratic way of
life is at this moment being' directly assailed
in every part of the world--assailed either by
arms, or by secret spreading of poisonous
propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity
and promote discord in nations that are still at
During sixteen long months this assault has
blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life
in an appalling number of independent nations,
great and small. The assailants are still on the
march, threatening other nations, great and
Therefore, as your President, performing my
constitutional duty to "give to the Congress
information of the state of the Union," I find
it, unhappily, necessary to report that the
future and the safety of our country and of our
democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events
far beyond our borders.
Armed defense of democratic existence is now
being gallantly waged in four continents. If
that defense fails, all the population and all
the resources of Europe, Asia, Africa and
Australasia will be dominated by the conquerors.
Let us remember that the total of those
populations and their resources in those four
continents greatly exceeds the sum total of the
population and the resources of the whole of the
Western Hemisphere-many times over.
In times like these it is immature--and
incidentally, untrue--for anybody to brag that
an unprepared America, single-handed, and with
one hand tied behind its back, can hold off the
No realistic American can expect from a
dictator's peace international generosity, or
return of true independence, or world
disarmament, or freedom of expression, or
freedom of religion -or even good business.
Such a peace would bring no security for us or
for our neighbors. "Those, who would give up
essential liberty to purchase a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that
we are softhearted; but we cannot afford to be
We must always be wary of those who with
sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the
"ism" of appeasement.
We must especially beware of that small group of
selfish men who would clip the wings of the
American eagle in order to feather their own
I have recently pointed out how quickly the
tempo of modern warfare could bring into our
very midst the physical attack which we must
eventually expect if the dictator nations win
There is much loose talk of our immunity from
immediate and direct invasion from across the
seas. Obviously, as long as the British Navy
retains its power, no such danger exists. Even
if there were no British Navy, it is not
probable that any enemy would be stupid enough
to attack us by landing troops in the United
States from across thousands of miles of ocean,
until it had acquired strategic bases from which
But we learn much from the lessons of the past
years in Europe-particularly the lesson of
Norway, whose essential seaports were captured
by treachery and surprise built up over a series
The first phase of the invasion of this
Hemisphere would not be the landing of regular
troops. The necessary strategic points would be
occupied by secret agents and their dupes- and
great numbers of them are already here, and in
As long as the aggressor nations maintain the
offensive, they-not we--will choose the time and
the place and the method of their attack.
That is why the future of all the American
Republics is today in serious danger.
That is why this Annual Message to the Congress
is unique in our history.
That is why every member of the Executive Branch
of the Government and every member of the
Congress faces great responsibility and great
The need of the moment is that our actions and
our policy should be devoted primarily-almost
exclusively--to meeting this foreign peril. For
all our domestic problems are now a part of the
Just as our national policy in internal affairs
has been based upon a decent respect for the
rights and the dignity of all our fellow men
within our gates, so our national policy in
foreign affairs has been based on a decent
respect for the rights and dignity of all
nations, large and small. And the justice of
morality must and will win in the end.
Our national policy is this:
First, by an impressive expression of the public
will and without regard to partisanship, we are
committed to all-inclusive national defense.
Second, by an impressive expression of the
public will and without regard to partisanship,
we are committed to full support of all those
resolute peoples, everywhere, who are resisting
aggression and are thereby keeping war away from
our Hemisphere. By this support, we express our
determination that the democratic cause shall
prevail; and we strengthen the defense and the
security of our own nation.
Third, by an impressive expression of the public
will and without regard to partisanship, we are
committed to the proposition that principles of
morality and considerations for our own security
will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace
dictated by aggressors and sponsored by
appeasers. We know that enduring peace cannot be
bought at the cost of other people's freedom.
In the recent national election there was no
substantial difference between the two great
parties in respect to that national policy. No
issue was fought out on this line before the
American electorate. Today it is abundantly
evident that American citizens everywhere are
demanding and supporting speedy and complete
action in recognition of obvious danger.
Therefore, the immediate need is a swift and
driving increase in our armament production.
Leaders of industry and labor have responded to
our summons. Goals of speed have been set. In
some cases these goals are being reached ahead
of time; in some cases we are on schedule; in
other cases there are slight but not serious
delays; and in some cases--and I am sorry to say
very important cases--we are all concerned by
the slowness of the accomplishment of our plans.
The Army and Navy, however, have made
substantial progress during the past year.
Actual experience is improving and speeding up
our methods of production with every passing
day. And today's best is not good enough for
I am not satisfied with the progress thus far
made. The men in charge of the program represent
the best in training, in ability, and in
patriotism. They are not satisfied with the
progress thus far made. None of us will be
satisfied until the job is done.
No matter whether the original goal was set too
high or too low, our objective is quicker and
better results. To give you two illustrations:
We are behind schedule in turning out finished
airplanes; we are working day and night to solve
the innumerable problems and to catch up.
We are ahead of schedule in building warships
but we are working to get even further ahead of
To change a whole nation from a basis of
peacetime production of implements of peace to a
basis of wartime production of implements of war
is no small task. And the greatest difficulty
comes at the beginning of the program, when new
tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines,
and new ship ways must first be constructed
before the actual materiel begins to flow
steadily and speedily from them.
The Congress, of course, must rightly keep
itself informed at all times of the progress of
the program. However, there is certain
information, as the Congress itself will readily
recognize, which, in the interests of our own
security and those of the nations that we are
supporting, must of needs be kept in confidence.
New circumstances are constantly begetting new
needs for our safety. I shall ask this Congress
for greatly increased new appropriations and
authorizations to carry on what we have begun.
I also ask this Congress for authority and for
funds sufficient to manufacture additional
munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be
turned over to those nations which are now in
actual war with aggressor nations.
Our most useful and immediate role is to act as
an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves.
They do not need man power, but they do need
billions of dollars worth of the weapons of
The time is near when they will not be able to
pay for them all in ready cash. We cannot, and
we will not, tell them that they must surrender,
merely because of present inability to pay for
the weapons which we know they must have.
I do not recommend that we make them a loan of
dollars with which to pay for these weapons--a
loan to be repaid in dollars.
I recommend that we make it possible for those
nations to continue to obtain war materials in
the United States, fitting their orders into our
own program. Nearly all their materiel would, if
the time ever came, be useful for our own
Taking counsel of expert military and naval
authorities, considering what is best for our
own security, we are free to decide how much
should be kept here and how much should be sent
abroad to our friends who by their determined
and heroic resistance are giving us time in
which to make ready our own defense.
For what we send abroad, we shall be repaid
within a reasonable time following the close of
hostilities, in similar materials, or, at our
option, in other goods of many kinds, which they
can produce and which we need.
Let us say to the democracies: "We Americans are
vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We
are putting forth our energies, our resources
and our organizing powers to give you the
strength to regain and maintain a free world. We
shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers,
ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose
and our pledge."
In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be
intimidated by the threats of dictators that
they will regard as a breach of international
law or as an act of war our aid to the
democracies which dare to resist their
aggression. Such aid is not an act of war, even
if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so
When the dictators, if the dictators, are ready
to make war upon us, they will not wait for an
act of war on our part. They did not wait for
Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit
an act of war.
Their only interest is in a new one-way
international law, which lacks mutuality in its
observance, and, therefore, becomes an
instrument of oppression.
The happiness of future generations of Americans
may well depend upon how effective and how
immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can
tell the exact character of the emergency
situations that we may be called upon to meet.
The Nation's hands must not be tied when the
Nation's life is in danger.
We must all prepare to make the sacrifices that
the emergency-almost as serious as war
itself--demands. Whatever stands in the way of
speed and efficiency in defense preparations
must give way to the national need.
A free nation has the right to expect full
cooperation from all groups. A free nation has
the right to look to the leaders of business, of
labor, and of agriculture to take the lead in
stimulating effort, not among other groups but
within their own groups.
The best way of dealing with the few slackers or
trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame
them by patriotic example, and, if that fails,
to use the sovereignty of Government to save
As men do not live by bread alone, they do not
fight by armaments alone. Those who man our
defenses, and those behind them who build our
defenses, must have the stamina and the courage
which come from unshakable belief in the manner
of life which they are defending. The mighty
action that we are calling for cannot be based
on a disregard of all things worth fighting for.
The Nation takes great satisfaction and much
strength from the things which have been done to
make its people conscious of their individual
stake in the preservation of democratic life in
America. Those things have toughened the fibre
of our people, have renewed their faith and
strengthened their devotion to the institutions
we make ready to protect.
Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop
thinking about the social and economic problems
which are the root cause of the social
revolution which is today a supreme factor in
For there is nothing mysterious about the
foundations of a healthy and strong democracy.
The basic things expected by our people of their
political and economic systems are simple. They
Equality of opportunity for youth and for
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific
progress in a wider and constantly rising
standard of living.
These are the simple, basic things that must
never be lost sight of in the turmoil and
unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The
inner and abiding strength of our economic and
political systems is dependent upon the degree
to which they fulfill these expectations.
Many subjects connected with our social economy
call for immediate improvement.
We should bring more citizens under the coverage
of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
We should widen the opportunities for adequate
We should plan a better system by which persons
deserving or needing gainful employment may
I have called for personal sacrifice. I am
assured of the willingness of almost all
Americans to respond to that call.
A part of the sacrifice means the payment of
more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I
shall recommend that a greater portion of this
great defense program be paid for from taxation
than we are paying today. No person should try,
or be allowed, to get rich out of this program;
and the principle of tax payments in accordance
with ability to pay should be constantly before
our eyes to guide our legislation.
If the Congress maintains these principles, the
voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks,
will give you their applause.
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
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is
a definite basis for a kind of world attainable
in our own time and generation. That kind of
world is the very antithesis of the so-called
new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to
create with the crash of a bomb.
To that new order we oppose the greater
conception--the moral order. A good society is
able to face schemes of world domination and
foreign revolutions alike without fear.
Since the beginning of our American history, we
have been engaged in change -- in a perpetual
peaceful revolution -- a revolution which goes
on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to
changing conditions--without the concentration
camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world
order which we seek is the cooperation of free
countries, working together in a friendly,
This nation has placed its destiny in the hands
and heads and hearts of its millions of free men
and women; and its faith in freedom under the
guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of
human rights everywhere. Our support goes to
those who struggle to gain those rights or keep
them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To
that high concept there can be no end save