A Global Perspective on the Four Freedoms: Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union Address

A Global Perspective on the Four Freedoms: Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union Address
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When President Roosevelt first made mention of his four freedoms in 1941, he was declaring those freedoms as rights, not just for Americans, but for people of the world. In essence, he was implying that each of those four freedoms: freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of worship, were global prerogatives; things that all human beings had a right to have as part of their lives. It was a lofty goal in 1941 and sadly, it is a goal that has yet to be achieved, even today.

Part of teaching Roosevelt’s speech should involve asking students to examine the global stage today and try to ascertain where, if anywhere but the United States, all four of these freedoms are granted. Using a newspaper, national magazine, or reputable online news source, have students find two examples of places in the world where each of these freedoms exist and three examples of places in the world where people are not granted these freedoms. Give students the downloadable chart in order to help keep track of and organize their information.

Then, have students choose a country in Europe, Africa, or Asia. Give them a week to research the country of their choice and discover which, if any, of these four freedoms that country has. Finally, ask each student to create a power point for your classmates, explaining the government/regime of those countries and why those freedoms are or are not granted to the particular country. Although it will take more than a few days of class to go over the power points, it will help each student to see that the President’s Dream from 1941 has yet to reach fruition in the far flung corners of the globe.


Four Freedoms Global Chart


  • Photo in the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

This post is part of the series: Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address, 1941

These two lesson plans cover the state of the union in 1941, and analyze Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech.

  1. Roosevelt, Rockwell, and The Four Freedoms
  2. The Four Freedoms: A Global Perspective