The Course of American Democratic Thought

By Ralph Henry Gabriel; Robert H. Walker | Go to book overview

Chapter 31
THE AMERICAN MISSION IN A DIVIDED WORLD

TWO MONTHS AFTER his election as the first American president to exceed two terms in office, Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a forceful message to Congress. Although the United States still steered a course of technical neutrality between the Axis and the Allies, this speech was as belligerent as a combat leader's exhortation to his troops. Aggressors and appeasers must be defeated. The arsenal of the free world must produce the weapons which will crush the dictatorships.

And what was the ultimate purpose behind this flexing of the national muscle? It was to provide a "moral order" superior to the new order of tyranny that "the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb":

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 the 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.1

It is instructive to compare this famous enumeration with a nearly forgotten summary of domestic objectives offered just a few para

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