1941 State of the Union Address

  • FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, 1941 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

  • “THE FOUR FREEDOMS”

  • (6 JANUARY 1941)

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    [1] Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress:

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • [2] I address you, the Members of the members of this new 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 today.

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    [3] 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.

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • And 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.

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    [4] It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often had been disturbed by events in other Continents.

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • 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.

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    [5] What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition, clear, definite opposition, to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past.

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.

  • [6] That determination of ours, extending over all these years, was proved, for example, in the early days during the quarter century of wars following the French Revolution.

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    [7] 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.

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • [8] And 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.

  • [9] 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.

  • F. D. Roosevelt

    It is still a friendly strength.

    Profile Picture of F. D. Roosevelt in 1941 State of the Union Address
  • [10] Even when the World War broke out in 1914, it seemed to contain only small threat of danger to our own American future.