Franklin Roosevelt "Four Freedoms" (1941)

In January 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt outlined the basic freedoms which America represents. Almost a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR warned of the dangers from dictatorships and of the need for America to prepare to defend itself.
definitions & notes only words
  1. unprecedented
    novel
    I address you, the members of this new Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the union.
    Synonyms for unprecedented include unparalleled or unmatched.
  2. unity
    the quality of being fused into one
    And, fortunately, only one of these the four-year war between the States ever threatened our national unity.
  3. compass
    navigational instrument for finding directions
    Today, thank God, 130,000,000 Americans in 48 States have forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.
    FDR is speaking metaphorically about the divisions between Americans North and South during the Civil War some 80 years earlier.
  4. engage
    consume all of one's attention or time
    We have 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.
  5. principle
    a basic truth or law or assumption
    We have 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.
  6. commerce
    transactions supplying goods and services
    We have 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.
  7. convey
    make known; pass on, of information
    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.
  8. procession
    the action of a group moving ahead in regular formation
    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.
    A synonym for a procession is a parade. FDR is metaphorically stating that Americans never allow themselves to hide while historical events parade past.
  9. isolation
    a country's withdrawal from international politics
    Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.
  10. century
    a period of 100 years
    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.
  11. vindicate
    maintain, uphold, or defend
    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.
  12. domination
    power to defeat
    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.
  13. interlude
    an intervening period or episode
    Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish itself in this hemisphere.
  14. hemisphere
    half of the terrestrial globe
    Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish itself in this hemisphere.
    "This hemisphere" means North and South America as opposed to Europe, Asia and Africa.
  15. reconstruction
    the activity of building something again
    We need not harp on failure of the democracies to deal with problems of world reconstruction.
  16. tyranny
    government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator
    We should remember that the peace of 1919 was far less unjust than the kind of pacification which began even before Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that seeks to spread over every continent today.
  17. realist
    a person who accepts the world as it literally is
    I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.
  18. assail
    launch an attack or assault on
    I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.
  19. propaganda
    information that is spread to promote some cause
    I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.
  20. discord
    lack of agreement or harmony
    I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.
  21. appalling
    causing consternation
    During 16 long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small.
  22. assailant
    someone who attacks
    And the assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and small.
  23. gallantly
    in a heroic or brave manner
    Armed defense of democratic existence is now being gallantly waged in four continents.
  24. cymbal
    a percussion instrument consisting of a concave brass disk
    We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the "ism" of appeasement.
  25. appeasement
    the act of acceding to demands
    We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the "ism" of appeasement.
  26. strategic
    highly important to or an integral part of a plan of action
    Even if there were no British Navy, it is not probable that any enemy would be stupid enough to attack us by landing troops in the United States from across thousands of miles of ocean, until it had acquired strategic bases from which to operate.
  27. treachery
    an act of deliberate betrayal
    But we learn much from the lessons of the past years in Europe particularly the lesson of Norway, whose essential seaports were captured by treachery and surprise built up over a series of years.
  28. dupe
    a person who is tricked or swindled
    The necessary strategic points would be occupied by secret agents and by their dupes and great numbers of them are already here and in Latin America.
  29. executive
    someone who manages a government agency or department
    That is why every member of the executive branch of the government and every member of the Congress face great responsibility, great accountability.
  30. devoted
    dedicated exclusively to a purpose or use
    The need of the moment is that our actions and our policy should be devoted primarily almost exclusively to meeting this foreign peril.
  31. internal
    inside the country
    Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small.
  32. resolute
    firm in purpose or belief
    Secondly, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute people everywhere who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our hemisphere.
  33. aggression
    violent action that is hostile and usually unprovoked
    Secondly, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute people everywhere who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our hemisphere.
  34. proposition
    a statement that affirms or denies and is true or false
    Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers.
  35. acquiesce
    to agree or express agreement
    Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers.
  36. enduring
    unceasing
    We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom.
  37. patriotism
    love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it
    The men in charge of the program represent the best in training, in ability, and in patriotism.
  38. innumerable
    too numerous to be counted
    We are working day and night to solve the innumerable problems and to catch up.
  39. implement
    instrumentation used to effect an end
    To change a whole nation from a basis of peacetime production of implements of peace to a basis of wartime production of implements of war is no small task.
  40. appropriation
    money set aside for a specific purpose, as by a legislature
    I shall ask this Congress for greatly increased new appropriations and authorizations to carry on what we have begun.
  41. sufficient
    of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
    I also ask this Congress for authority and for funds sufficient to manufacture additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be turned over to those nations which are now in actual war with aggressor nations.
  42. arsenal
    all the weapons and equipment that a country has
    Our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves.
  43. counsel
    something that provides direction or advice
    Taking counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who, by their determined and heroic resistance, are giving us time in which to make ready our own defense.
  44. abroad
    to or in a foreign country
    Taking counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who, by their determined and heroic resistance, are giving us time in which to make ready our own defense.
  45. hostility
    violent action that is usually unprovoked
    For what we send abroad we shall be repaid, repaid within a reasonable time following the close of hostilities, repaid in similar materials, or at our option in other goods of many kinds which they can produce and which we need.
    Hostilities is a synonym for fighting or war.
  46. intimidated
    made timid or fearful as by threats
    In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression.
  47. breach
    act in disregard of laws, rules, contracts, or promises
    In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression.
  48. proclaim
    affirm or declare as an attribute or quality of
    Such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so to be.
  49. stamina
    enduring strength and energy
    Those who man our defenses and those behind them who build our defenses must have the stamina and the courage which come from unshakable belief in the manner of life which they are defending.
  50. fiber
    attributes that determines one's moral and ethical actions
    Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.
  51. faith
    complete confidence in a person or plan etc
    Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.
  52. devotion
    commitment to some purpose
    Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.
  53. supreme
    greatest in status or authority or power
    Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.
  54. privilege
    a special advantage or benefit not enjoyed by all
    The ending of special privilege for the few.
  55. civil
    of or relating to or befitting citizens as individuals
    The preservation of civil liberties for all.
  56. turmoil
    violent agitation
    These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world.
  57. insurance
    protection against future loss
    We should bring more citizens under the coverage of oldage pensions and unemployment insurance.
  58. accordance
    concurrence of opinion
    No person should try, or be allowed to get rich out of the program, and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.
  59. vision
    a vivid mental image
    That is no vision of a distant millennium.
  60. millennium
    a span of 1000 years
    That is no vision of a distant millennium.
  61. antithesis
    exact opposite
    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.
  62. conception
    the creation of something in the mind
    To that new order we oppose the greater conception the moral order.
  63. scheme
    an elaborate and systematic plan of action
    A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
  64. perpetual
    continuing forever or indefinitely
    Since the beginning of our American history we have been engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the quicklime in the ditch.
  65. destiny
    a course of events that will inevitably happen in the future
    This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God.