26th August 2021
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the 32nd President of the USA, is frequently cited as being among the country’s best leaders. Born in 1882 in New York, FDR was a Democrat who became President in 1933. The USA and the world was suffering economic disaster following the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression. Unemployment in the States was estimated to be 13 million, many banks were still closed.
To alleviate the situation, FDR inaugurated a series of reforms and aid programs known as ‘The New Deal’. These included construction programs and work in the national forests.
During the annual State of the Union address on January 11th 1944 FDR, speaking on the radio, proposed a second Bill of Rights to address the problems and inequalities facing the USA in the mid Twentieth Century. Part of this speech can be watched online, and the link follows the text:
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.
FDR who had contracted a paralytic illness in 1921 and was unable to walk unaided, died on April 12th 1945, less than a month before the complete surrender of Germany. The second Bill of Rights was not introduced.