Norman Rockwell - Freedom from Fear

Norman Rockwell - Freedom from Fear (Illustration) American History Censorship Social Studies World War II Visual Arts
On the 6th of January, 1941 - eleven months before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor - President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his annual speech to Congress. In it, he talked about freedom. He stressed how important specific freedoms were - not just for Americans but for people everywhere:

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 universal 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 world-wide 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. 

Norman Rockwell listened to FDR's speech and did something with it. The famous artist created four paintings, one for each of the "four freedoms."
The Library of Congress, which maintains copies of each, tells us more about those four paintings:

Taken from Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 speech to Congress, the "Four Freedoms" -- Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear -- became a rallying point for the United States during WWII.

Artist Norman Rockwell created four vignettes to illustrate the concepts. Rockwell intended to donate the paintings to the War Department, but after receiving no response, the painter offered them to the Saturday Evening Post, where they were first published on February 20, 1943.

Popular reaction was overwhelming, and more than 25,000 readers requested full-color reproductions suitable for framing.

After the paintings were first published in 1943 - by the Saturday Evening Post - the U.S. Department of the Treasury put Rockwell's "Four Freedoms" on tour around the country.  That tour raised more than $130,000,000 in war-bond sales.

This is an image of Rockwell's "Freedom from Fear."  Click on the image to expand its view.
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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5139stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 06, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 04, 2016

Media Credits

Image of Norman Rockwell painting - "Freedom from Fear" - from the U.S. National Archives.  Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of War Information; NARA Still Picture Branch; (NWDNS-208-PMP-46).

Quoted passage, FDR's January 6, 1941 speech.

Quoted passage, from the Library of Congress - American Treasures of the Library of Congress.


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