In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enumerated four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These principles, which went beyond the values of the Bill of Rights, to incorporate broader notions of economic and psychological security, were later incorporated into the preamble of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

FDR’s Four Freedoms speech also inspired a set of Four Freedoms paintings by Norman Rockwell, the most popular commercial artist of the mid-20th century. The four works were published in The Saturday Evening Post on February 20, February 27, March 6, and March 13 in 1943. Each image was accompanied in the magazine by a corresponding essay on Roosevelt’s four principles.

Freedom of Speech Freedom of Worship Freedom from Want Freedom from Fear

After their publication, the Post, the most widely circulated weekly of its time, received millions of requests to reprint the images. Capitalizing on this popularity, the Treasury Department toured Rockwell’s original Four Freedoms paintings around the country, in support of the war effort, and raised over $130 million in war bond sales. In 1943 and 1946, the US Post Office issued postage stamps of the Four Freedoms, which are now housed in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.

 

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