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American History in the Making

Comments on readings by and about Reinhold Niebuhr

Selected Niebuhr Readings

Niebuhr Essay

Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is one of a handful of modern theologians who can sit at the crossroads of politics, international relations, philosophy, ethics, and religion. Examining a few key essays and a few commentaries about Niebuhr reveals a deeply religious and intelligent man who centers his arguments around the key themes of justice, action, morality, and the finite nature of man. The following is a brief review of the key elements of the essays considered with some commentary regarding impact are areas where Niebuhr influenced thought regarding democracy and the role of the United States as a world power in the 20th century.

Beginning with his essay Our Secularized Civilization, written in 1926, Niebuhr was on the battlefield of Purcell’s Crisis of Democratic Theory as he railed against the negative influences of scientific discovery and the over-reliance on science which weakened religion and morality. He cautioned that optimism and confidence in the future of religion was very much in doubt as science attempted to place society beyond ethical control declaring, “The fact is that we are living in a completely secularized civilization.” His concern is not a particular attack on science per se nor is it simply a exhortation to Protestantism to grapple with the reality that science must be understood as a part of the mystery of the universe. He is warning that “scientific discovery… weaken[s] not only religious but ethical values.” Because, he continues, “Our obsession with the physical sciences and with the physical world has enthroned the brute and blind forces of nature, and we follow the God of the earthquake and the fire rather than the God of the still small voice.” No matter how much “mastery of nature” we achieve, humans cannot escape the fact that there remains a mystery to the universe and he feels that God is the source of that mystery. Therefore, “to identify God with automatic processes is to destroy the God of conscience…”

He calls for a return to medievalism to save humanity. He calls for a reliance on the mystery of God to remind humans that they are not the masters of the world and that there are choices which must be made in under the veil of the divine mystery. The acceptance of divine mystery is the foundation for his principle of justice. In the mysterious and unknowable universe with a wholly unknowable God, there remains choice, not calculus and formula. In that choice, he argues that (Protestantism above others) solutions to the “major social sins of our day, economic greed and race hatred” can be found.

Continuing to leverage his fundamental belief in justice as the motivating force behind required action, Niebuhr writes The Irony of American History in 1952 in the face of a rapidly escalating Cold War. In seeking justice, he adopts a position that would be classified as neoconservative today in declaring that America must accept the risk of destroying herself in nuclear war to protect herself: “Though confident of its virtue, it must yet hold atomic bombs ready for use so as to prevent a possible world conflagration.” Communism is a moral evil that represses the divine design of man. It is an absolutist regime that rejects God and rejects the mystery of the universe in the overt claims that history has been defeated and all ills are solvable through science. “The cruelty of communism is partly derived from the absurd pretension that the communist movement stands on the other side of this leap and has the whole of history in its grasp.” The absolute nature of communism makes it more dangerous, Niebuhr writes, and will ultimately be its downfall. Until it falls, America must stand firm and act to prevent its spread. He describes America on a continuum of maturity that, by 1952, has presented it with a challenge on whether and how to wield power, “Our culture knows little of the use and the abuse of power; but we have to use power in global terms.”

The challenge to unilateral power is the charge of hypocrisy. To this he offers an apology. He admits that the United States is “schizophrenic upon the subject of power” and warns that justice is the overriding goal while acknowledging, courtesy of the theological concept of original sin, sin occurs in all action. Matthew Berke comments in 1992 that Niebuhr’s point is, “power cannot be wielded without guilt,” since “we cannot do good without also doing evil.” Niebuhr says in 1952, “If justice is to be maintained and our survival assured, we cannot make individual liberty as unqualifiedly the end of life as our ideology asserts.” Justice, over all, is the priority. And in New Deal fashion, justice can best be obtained by collective action.

Another nod to the omnipresent mystery of the universe, he ascribes a certain mystery to democracy to aid in the battle against communism. “We were partly saved by the very force of democracy. For the freedom of democracy makes for a fortunate confusion in defining the goal toward which history should move; and the distribution of power in a democracy prevents any group of world savers from grasping after a monopoly of power.” It is the “confusion” that keeps democracy safe and the dispersion that prevents monopoly.

This barely scrapes the surface of the material available in these short essays, but a distillation of Niebuhr’s key points remains useful: justice requires action; science informs us of the mystery of the universe, but does not solve it; mystery is critical and foundational; and action while acknowledging sin is not hypocrisy, it is accepting the fundamental truth that sin exists and action is still required. The associated commentaries attached repeat these core themes and leave this reader with the overriding conviction that the world is a messy place. There are no formulas for infinite solution. As novelist Douglas Adams might lament, there is no answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything. In that ordained chaos, there is hope and opportunity for democratic action to take hold. Mistakes will happen. But in the search for justice, action relies on a measure of faith in democracy and in God while being informed by science and is a burden best shared with others.

Bibliography of works considered in this essay:


“A View of Life from the Sidelines.” Christian Century, December 19-26: pp. 1195.

Berke, Matthew. “The Disputed Legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr.” First Things, Nov. 1992.

Dorrien, Gary. “Reinhold’s Era.” The Christian Century, February 24, 2002: pp. 34-41.

Niebuhr, Reinhold. “Our Secularized Civilization.” Christian Century, April 22, 1926.

Niebuhr, Reinhold. “The Christian Witness in a Secular Age.” The Christian Century, July 22, 1953: pp. 840-842.

Niebuhr, Reinhold. “The Irony of American History.” chapter 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1952.

Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Obama’s Favorite Theologian? A Short Course on Reinhold Niebuhr. available online at HTTP://PEWRESEARCH.ORG/PUBS/1268/REINHOLD-NEIHBUHR-OBAMA-FAVORITE-THEOLOGIAN .

“Religion: Faith for a Lenten Age.” Time Magazine, 8 Mar 1948.

Urquhart, Brian. “What You Can Learn from Reinhold Niebuhr.” NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS: VOLUME 56, NUMBER 5, MARCH 26, 2009.


April 1, 2010 Posted by | 20th Century American Democracy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Research: From Militia to the National Guard: Jefferson’s Last Stand

Below is an abstract and a copy of the proposed appendices to a research paper in progress at George Mason University under the direction of Dr. Fred Beuttler, Assistant Historian for the US House of Representatives.


Abstract Blog

The militia in the United States of America is a unique reflection of the United States itself. Beginning with the first colonial muster in 1636 and involvement in every major US engagement, the militia and after 1903, the National Guard has been there. The militia ideal is Jeffersonian Democracy at its best. In many ways the militia was diametrically opposed to the notions supporting a professional, standing army just as Jefferson opposed Hamilton’s need for a truly federal government. The conflict between professional army and citizen militia mirrored the conflict of federal versus anti-federal. Leading up to the Spanish-American War in 1898, the militia developed a more comprehensive personality and consolidated national vision for itself. Choosing to embody the Jeffersonian ideals found in the citizen-soldiery, the militia was faced with the need for federal support and partnership with the professional army. In the 1880s, the militia began to see the need for reform and more professional education, training, equipment and more federal financial support to achieve that reform.

The National Guard Association formed to address their growing national concerns. In the post-Civil War environment, the movement initially fractured, but by 1903, the Interstate National Guard Association established itself as the most politically cohesive group and led the reconciliation effort which would form the modern-day National Guard Association of the United States. Here the National Guard needed increased federal support to achieve military relevance beyond what the individual states could provide. The Army wanted a recruiting pool from which to fill their ranks in the event of another war. Neither organization wanted to repeat the mobilization failures which occurred prior to the War with Spain.

The Army, directed by Secretary of War Elihu Root accepted an increasing role of the National Guard and funding in exchange for increased oversight and regulation – a classic Jefferson versus Hamilton exchange. The result was a more Jamesian compromise where the National Guard maintained a significant measure of its own initiative and agency, they reluctantly accepted federal oversight and standardization and the Army gained a measure of influence over a state-based militia force.


Army/Militia Situation circa 1900

US Population and military Demographics

Budgetary commitments

Opposing Camps: The Volunteer Soldier in America and Military Policy of the United States

Emergence of a national militia

Political Participants in the Reformation

Brigadier General Charles Dick, US Senator and Congressman

President William McKinley, Confederate militiaman

Colonel William Sanger, New York National Guard and Assistant Secretary of War

President Theodore Roosevelt, New York National Guard

Brevet Major General Emory Upton, USA, West Point, author, The
Military Policy of the United States

John A. Logan, author, The Volunteer Soldier in America

Democracy in Practice

Jeffersonian ideal of the militia

Interstate National Guard Association

4th Annual Conference of the Interstate National Guard Association, 1902, Washington, DC

5th Annual Conference of the Interstate National Guard Association, 1903, Columbus, OH

Address to the 5th Annual Conference by Secretary of War Elihu Root

Militia Act of 1903

Implications for Democracy

Jefferson, States’ Rights, and the desire for federal support without constraints

Hamilton, Federal designs on the militia, and desire for oversight

James, compromise, Federal support with Federal oversight



Militia Act of 1903 Milita Act of 1903 transcribed

Militia Act of 1792 Militia Act of 1792

1903 Address by Secretary of War Address by SecWar Root to NGA


Bernstein, Jonathan, interview by Carl Allard Young. Director, National Guard Education Foundation (March 5, 2010).

Center of Military History. American Military History: The United States Armuy and the Forging of a Nation, 1775-1917. Edited by Richard W. Stewart. Vol. I. II vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2004.

Cooper, Jerry. Citizens as Soldiers: A History of the North Dakota National Guard. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

—. The Rise of the National Guard: The Evolution of the American Militia 1862-1920. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Doubler, Michael D. I Am the Guard: A History of the Army National Guard, 1636-2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001.

Hill, Jim Dan. The Minute Man in Peace and War: A History of the National Guard. 1st ed. Harrisburg, PA: The Telegraph Press, 1964.

Interstate National Guard Association. Proceedings of the Interstate National Guard Association. Vol. I. II vols. Washington, DC: Inerstate National Guard Association, 1906.

—. “Proceedings of the Interstate National Guard Association, Vol II of II.” Washington, DC: Interstate National Guard Association, 1906. 410 pp.

Logan, John A. The Volunteer Solider of America. Chicago: R.S. Peale & Company, 1887.

Root, Elihu. The Citizen’s Part in Government and Experiments in Government and the Essentials of the Constitution. New York: Arno Press, 1974.

Sanger Family. “Sanger Family Papers, 1792-1956; Bulk 1875-1925.” New York State Library. Edited by Aimee Morgan. 2005. (accessed March 09, 2010).

Stentiford, Barry M. The American Home Guard: The State Militia in the Twentieth Century. 1st ed. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.

The United States Congress. An Act. Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1792.

—. An Act more effectually to provide for the National Defence by establishing an Uniform Militia throughout the United States. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1792.

—. “An Act To promote the efficiency of the militia, and for other purposes.” Public Law No. 3. Washington, DC, January 21, 1903.

—. “The Constitution of the United States of America.” Barnes and Noble Books, 2005.

United States Census Bureau. “1900 Census of Population and Housing.” Vers. Volume 1: Population: Population of States and Territories. Census Bureau. (accessed March 8, 2010).

—. “1900 Census of Population and Housing.” Vers. Volume 2: Population Pt 2: Ages. Census Bureau. (accessed March 8, 2010).

—. “1900 Census of Population and Housing.” Vers. Volume 3: Vital Statistics pt 1: Analysis and Ratio Tables. Census Bureau. (accessed March 8, 2010).

United States Congress. Dick, Charles William Frederick – Biographical Information. (accessed March 08, 2010).

—. Henderson, David Bremner – Biographical Information. (accessed March 08, 2010).

March 18, 2010 Posted by | 20th Century American Democracy | , , , , | 1 Comment

Democratic Models

Dan Snowdall and I struggled with defining Democratic Relativism while simultaneously comparing the various models discussed in class over the last few weeks. We were completely flummoxed by the undefinable nature of the concepts we were discussing and have been challenged with giving the concepts some form. Coming from an undergraduate degree in Government as well as History and possessing general proclivities toward systems modeling I needed a picture. Today, we grappled with the various concepts and settled on the models and definitions as briefly listed below. We ask for comments AND CORRECTIONS if we are wildly off-base or confusing. We look forward to the discussion!

Jeffersonian Democracy:


  • Rigid
  • Committed faith in a rational man
  • Strong bonds holding the political elements together resting on the foundation of the citizen
  • A priori truths that are self-evident (Divinity, Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, Equality)
  • Individual responsibilities
  • Isolationist
  • Non-elitist
  • Limited Government
  • Hierarchical, ordered

Hamiltonian Democracy:


  • Rigid
  • Committed faith in rational collective (government)
  • Strong bonds holding the political elements together resting on the foundation of the government, but top-heavy
  • Collective responsibilities
  • Expansionist
  • Elitist
  • Aggressive expansion of federal identity (debt, taxes, regulations, foreign affairs, etc)
  • Hierarchical, ordered

Dewian Democracy:


  • Fluid processes
  • Committed faith in the process
  • Reliance on rational man
  • Weak bonds holding the political elements together, risk of anarchy
  • Mutual responsibilities (collective and individual and process)
  • Non-Elitist
  • Non- hierarchical, potentially disordered

Jamesian Democracy:


  • Fluid processes
  • Committed faith in the balance between government and citizen (high ethics of government and benevolence of man)
  • Reliance on rational man
  • Weak bonds holding the political elements together requiring high faith, risk of anarchy
  • Mutual responsibilities (collective and individual)
  • Elitist (specialists)
  • Hierarchical

Democratic Relativism:


  • Extremely fluid processes
  • Dynamic
  • Acknowledgment of a non-rational man
  • Strong bonds holding the political elements together centering around the corpus of law giving form to a reasonably constant/rigid democratic processes
  • Quantitative discovery dynamically shifts weight with intangible political “beliefs” as strength of one over the other balance each other out in the “Reality of the Process”.

Democratic Relativism: (circa 1968)


  • Extremely fluid processes
  • Extremely Dynamic
  • Rise of Government as an Actor (a(x)) distinct from Government as a Function (f(x))
  • Strong bonds holding the political elements together centering around the corpus of law giving form to a reasonably constant/rigid democratic processes
  • Two actors (Citizen and Government) interacting with Science and Faith
  • Faith in Government as a Function
  • Acceptance in Government as an Actor
  • Processes remain governed by rules
  • Gov (f(x)) informs the actors as a necessary element of Democracy

March 6, 2010 Posted by | 20th Century American Democracy | , , , | 1 Comment

Essential Speeches in Early 20th Century American Democracy

Handout – Key Speeches in early 20th Century American Politics:
Bryan, Roosevelt, Wilson, Hoover, & Roosevelt
Carl A. Young

Essential Speeches
Handout Speeches

23 January 2010

William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was a devout Presbyterian and an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for President in the 1896, 1900, and 1908 elections. He served as Secretary of State under Wilson, was a professional speaker, prohibitionist, and populist referred to as The Great Commoner and was anti-imperialist and anti-trust. He died shortly after winning the Scopes Trial in 1925 as an anti-Darwinist.

In his 1898 speech against imperialism, fueled by concerns over the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in which the United States would gain Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, Bryan argues against the hypocrisies inherent in comparing American protectorates in Cuba and imperialism in the Philippines. He defends the Cuban approach as patriotic and in line with democratic ideals but warns of degeneration of greed and imperialistic designs. He underpins his argument with a warning that a government’s strength is not is might, but “the consent of the governed.

Notable Quotes:

  • Our nation exhausted diplomacy in its efforts to secure a peaceable solution of the Cuban question, and only took up arms when it was compelled to choose between war and servile acquiescence in cruelties which would have been a disgrace to barbarism.
  • Our guns destroyed a Spanish fleet, but can they destroy that self-evident truth, that governments derive their just powers, not from superior force, but from the consent of the governed?

On 8 August 1900, he railed against the imperialism in the Philippines and the hypocrisy of the plan of self-determination for Cuba while establishing an imperial trade base in the Philippines. He attacks four principles of imperialism (emergence as a world power, protection of commercial interests, spread of Christianity, and lack of honorable retreat) as un-Christian, un-democratic, and greedy.

Notable Quotes:

  • The Filipinos do not need any encouragement from Americans now living. Our whole history has been an encouragement not only to the Filipinos, but to all who are denied a voice in their own government.
  • We cannot repudiate the principle of self-government in the Philippines without weakening that principle here.
  • A colonial policy means that we shall send to the Philippine Islands a few traders, a few taskmasters and a few office-holders and an army large enough to support the authority of a small fraction of the people while they rule the natives.
  • Is the sunlight of full citizenship to be enjoyed by the people of the United States, and the twilight of semi-citizenship endured by the people of Puerto Rico, while the thick darkness of perpetual vassalage covers the Philippines?
  • Force can defend a right, but force has never yet created a right.

Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1858-1919) came from a very wealthy family, suffered ill health as a child, and became an avid outdoorsman and naturalist embodying progressive ideals. He served as President from 1901 until 1908 and lost a bid for the office in 1912 to Woodrow Wilson. He received the Medal of Honor (awarded in 2001) for actions in San Juan Heights in Cuba in 1898 during the Spanish – American War. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his role in mediating the Russo-Japanese War.

At his inauguration on 4 March 1905, he borrowed from the Christian spirit of “to whom much is given, much will be required” as he declared it to be a responsibility of the United States to uphold the American ideals of character, intelligence, courage, hardihood, and endurance. To that end, the United States pledged friendship to other countries. His inauguration was delivered against a background of war between Russia and Japan, the formation of the 1st Workers Soviet in St. Petersburg, and the publication of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.

Notable Quote:

  • Upon the success of our experiment much depends, not only as regards our own welfare, but as regards the welfare of mankind. If we fail, the cause of free self-government throughout the world will rock to its foundations, and therefore our responsibility is heavy, to ourselves, to the world as it is to-day, and to the generations yet unborn.

Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson (1856- 1924) was a devout Presbyterian and intellectual who served as president of Princeton University (1902-10) and governor of New Jersey (1911-13) before being elected as President of the United States. He was anti-trust, in favor of tax-reform, women’s suffrage, and idealistic internationalism as a way for the United States to make the world safe for democracy. He received the Nobel Prize in 1919 for his efforts during the 1919 Peace Conference.

His inauguration on 4 March 1913 was set against a background of advances in international communism, scientific discovery, and industrial genius such as continuing developments in Russia, Niels Bohr’s publication of the theory of atomic structure, and Henry Ford’s pioneering of the assembly line along with increasing tension in Eastern Europe. He urged consideration of the human cost to the massive industrial expansion of recent years. He cautioned government against the concerns of “private interests” and an over-influential industrial system, identified the need for a sound banking and currency system, and urged scientific application to improve agriculture. He argued that government should “[safeguard] the health of the Nation, the health of its men and its women and its children, as well as their rights in the struggle for existence” and explained that government service to its people underpinned society.

Notable Quotes:

  • We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out…
  • Nor have we studied and perfected the means by which government may be put at the service of humanity, in safeguarding the health of the Nation, the health of its men and its women and its children, as well as their rights in the struggle for existence.

On 8 April 1913, Wilson became the first president to directly address a joint session of Congress where he called for change to the tariff legislation he said had become a system of patronage to industry. He called for free trade legislation as a foundation for successful commerce built on “competitive supremacy.”

Notable Quotes:

  • We long ago passed beyond the modest notion of “protecting” the industries of the country and moved boldly forward to the idea that they were entitled to the direct patronage of the Government.
  • We must… put our business men and producers under the stimulation of a constant necessity to be efficient, economical, and enterprising, masters of competitive supremacy, better workers and merchants than any in the world.

On 2 April 1917, Wilson addressed the Congress requesting a declaration of war against Germany. He insisted that “armed neutrality… is impracticable” and subsequently requested authority to mobilize the national economy for war, place 500,000 soldiers in the Army, and allow for a taxation plan to pay for this war. Reversing his winning electoral pledge to keep America out of the war, he said, “the right is more precious than peace.”

Notable Quotes:

  • But armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable.
  • …it would be most unwise to base the credits which will now be necessary entirely on money borrowed.
  • The world must be made safe for democracy.
  • We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights.
  • But the right is more precious than peace…

A year later, on 8 January 1918, he addressed the Congress with what became known as the Fourteen Points Address. Here he outlined his plans for the peace at the conclusion of World War I consisting of open diplomacy, freedom of the seas, free trade, arms reduction, restoral of lands, and an association of nations. He failed to bring the United States into the League of Nations, but succeeded in establishing the organization.

Notable Quotes:

  • It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak. Unless this principle be made its foundation no part of the structure of international justice can stand.

Herbert Hoover

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) was a trained engineer and government reformer believing in a minimal government supporting the efforts of the people. He is discredited largely due to his inability to stop the crisis stemming from the stock market crash of 1929. He served as president from 1929-33.

During his inaugural address on 4 March 1929, approximately six months before the crash, the country was at peace and experiencing significant prosperity. He outlined objectives for improving the criminal justice system, enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment, investigating federal jurisprudence, strengthening government regulation on business, establishing a cooperative spirit within the government over more authoritative means, and expansion of education, public health while promoting world peace.

Notable Quotes:

  • The strong man must at all times be alert to the attack of insidious disease.
  • There would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals patronized it.
  • The election has again confirmed the determination of the American people that regulation of private enterprise and not Government ownership or operation is the course rightly to be pursued in our relation to business.
  • Self-government can succeed only through an instructed electorate.
  • Public health service should be as fully organized and as universally incorporated into our governmental system as is public education.
  • I have no fears for the future of our country. It is bright with hope.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was an extremely wealthy New York aristocrat elected to president in 1933 and remained until his death in office in 1945. He established the New Deal, is credited by many for getting the United States out of the Great Depression, and guiding the country through World War II. In 1933 the world had been in a depression since October 1929, Germany appointed Hitler as chancellor, begun burning books and building concentration camps, the United States launched its first aircraft carrier, the USSR was suffering massive starvation, and the Congress delivers to FDR wide-ranging powers to curb the Depression. At his inauguration on 4 March, he claimed “that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and threatened Congress to call for expansive power if the Congress failed to lead the country out of the Depression.

Notable Quotes:

  • So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…
  • They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
  • But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis–broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

On 6 January 1941 (eleven months before the United States entered World War II), FDR highlighted international concerns to a largely isolationist audience and committed the country to national defense in American and throughout the hemisphere while resisting aggressors and appeasers by calling for significant increases in the production of armaments. Here he highlighted the four freedoms: of speech, of worship, from want, and from fear – everywhere.

Notable Quotes:

  • The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of Government to save Government.
  • 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 world 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.

A little over three years later, on 11 January 1944, while the United States was at war, he outlined his economic bill of rights supporting the supreme objective of security (physical, economic, social, and moral) in an environment of international cooperation stating “that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” From this stem the rights to a job; to earn; of every farmer to raise and sell his products; of every businessman to trade freely; of every family to a decent home; to adequate medical care; to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; and to a good education.

Notable Quotes:

  • The one supreme objective for the future, which we discussed for each Nation individually, and for all the United Nations, can be 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.
  • Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want.
  • 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.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | 20th Century American Democracy | , , , , , | 1 Comment