The United States was engaged in the largest two-front war of its, or any nation's history. Though victory was not yet certain, there were discussions on a multi-national level regarding the future peace, and on the President of the United States was looking to the post-war prospects for the nation. With that in mind, the annual address of the President to Congress and the nation was summed up in one word: Security. "And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security -- in a family of nations." This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-to-last Fireside Chat
, presented on Tuesday, January 11, 1944, which included what he proposed to be the Second Bill of Rights
Much of the Second Bill of Rights, also called the Economic Bill of Rights, had been discussed by Roosevelt for some while. Roosevelt had spoken on economic rights of the individual
since he was chosen as the Democratic candidate for president in the 1932 Democratic National Convention
, and elaborating in another speech seven weeks later
, including a fable of the American public cast as Alice in Wonderland amidst the delusions of paper profits and increased production and consumption.
In 1941, the United States had not yet entered World War II, but was providing material support against "aggressor nations," and FDR was looking ahead to times of peace to come. In his 1941 State of the Union address
, FDR spoke on the Four Freedoms (prev)
: the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, freedom from want (a healthy peacetime life), and the freedom from fear (in short, a world-wide reduction of armaments). These were freedoms not simply for the United States, but that would cover everywhere and anywhere in the world.
In early January of 1944, the U.S. was engaged around the world, with US forces moving beyond the Battle of Tarawa
and Allies moving towards Monte Cassino
on their way for Rome, with preparation for Operation Overlord
under way. On January 11, 1944, Roosevelt chose to end his State of the Union speech to the nation
by talking about a second bill of rights:
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy. More than the winning of the war, it is time to begin plans and determine the strategy for winning a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever known before.
This republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact, however, that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry, people who are 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, or 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 farmers to raise and sell their products at a return which will give them and their families a decent living;
The right of every business man, 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, and sickness, and accident and unemployment;
And finally, the right to a good education.
This would be an an economic bill of rights that Congress might enact through legislation, not a revision to the Constitution.
FDR had two more
Fireside Chats with the nation in June of 1944, won the election for a 4th term as President of the United States and was inaugrated on January 20, 1945
. Less than three months later, President Roosevelt was dead
, and his Second Bill of Rights was in the hands of others.
The Four Freedoms from 1941 was part of the motivation behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
, thanks in part to Roosevelt's widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, as a member of the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights
. But the Economic Bill of Rights has faded as a cohesive whole.
Progress on the separate elements varies
, and interest in the Second Bill of Rights has seen a recent revival of interest in part thanks to a book on the topic
by Cass R. Sunstein
, discussion by Howard Zinn in an interview
, and inclusion in a movie by Michael Moore
following research for forgotten footage of FDR
that was shot for newsreel
(though Moore mis-credits Roosevelt's intentions
in saying FDR wanted to amend the constitution).
There is also concern for this rising interest in the Economic Bill of Rights, as it is seen as a "treacherous transformation of human aspirations into enforceable legal rights
" and FDr's "massive take over of the U.S. economy
." As an interesting note, Ronald Reagan had proposed his own Economic Bill of Rights
, which has been recalled recently
, even credited as a "Jeffersonian Economic Bill of Rights
," due to Jefferson's views on taxation
. Tying everything back together, some modern supporters of FDR's Second Bill of Rights see parallels to Thomas Jefferson
in Jefferson's letter to James Madison Fontainebleau
, in particular citing the following quote: "Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on.