The Four Freedoms - Teacher Created Materials

The Four Freedoms - Teacher Created Materials


The Four Freedoms

Social Studies Infer Meaning / Determine Importance


President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the radio to communicate with Americans.

By January 1941, World War II had been raging

in Europe for more than a year. When President

Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to Congress on

January 6, the question on everyone’s mind was

whether the United States would enter the war.

Roosevelt called on the United States to support

Britain with arms and supplies without going

to war. During this speech, he outlined basic

principles for a world order. These included

what became known as the “four freedoms.”

This is what Roosevelt said in his speech:

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 worldwide

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.

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.

FPG / Getty Images

10778 (i2025) Exploring Nonfiction • Second Edition —Level 8 © TIME For Kids




Before Reading

1. Why do people make speeches?

2. What does it mean to be free?

3. Preview the title and picture. What

do you predict you will read about?

During Reading

1. What is the reason or occasion for

this speech?

2. What are the four freedoms?

3. What idea is repeated with each

of the freedoms, and why do you

suppose that idea is repeated?

After Reading

1. Which of these freedoms do you

consider most important? Why?

2. What do you learn from reading the

actual speech that you might not learn

from reading about the speech in a


3. Do you think it is right for one country

to be concerned about the political

situation in another country? Why or

why not?

Skill Focus

Listening for What Isn’t Said

The news was grim. Armies were marching across Europe and

Britain was under attack. The United States, only recently coming out of

a terrible economic depression and still vividly remembering the effects

of a world war 20 years before, was unsure about its place on the world

stage. It was in this atmosphere that President Franklin Roosevelt gave

the speech you read.

Every person who heard this speech or read it in the newspapers in

the days that followed it was “reading between the lines” to get answers

to the questions that were heavy on their minds: Would the United States

go to war again? How would the nation respond to the threat of the

German government attacking every European ally? Notice that the

president doesn’t answer these questions directly, but there are hints and

clues that a good listener (or reader) could pick up on to help him or her

draw a conclusion about the president’s plans.

TheFour Freedoms” speech clearly described what Roosevelt—

along with many of the American people—valued, especially after their

experience with World War I. It is meant to contrast what was being

demonstrated by the German armies in Europe. This contrast shows that

the United States was “choosing sides” in the conflict. At the same time,

Roosevelt’s emphasis on reducing fear by reducing weapons can be

understood as an intention to stay out of the war. You may know from

your knowledge of history that the United States didn’t stay out of this

war in the end, but this speech gives you a glimpse of the hopes of a

nation during a terrible time.

Writing Extension

Think about an issue that matters to you—economic,

humanitarian, environmental, or political. Write a

persuasive speech or editorial to express your point of view,

and remember to clearly outline your points and keep your

sentences short and understandable. Practice reading your

speech or editorial to ensure that it flows naturally.


1. essential

2. armaments

3. millenium

4. antithesis

10778 (i2025) Exploring Nonfiction • Second Edition —Level 8 © Teacher Created Materials Publishing

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