Since 1776, America has been the land of the free and the home of the brave. As the land of freedom, we have the rights of power to act, speak, and think as we want without restraint. For years presidents have been addressing the rights we have as American citizens and working to protect them. Many speeches have been given that confront the subject of freedom. Two of the most famous speeches that discuss American freedom is the “Four Freedoms” speech given by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. Both Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech and Kennedy’s Inaugural Address were given at crucial points in American history and talk about freedom, however, Roosevelt’s speech and Kennedy’s speech differ in their purpose, the audience, and then the circumstances in each of their times. Also, both Roosevelt and Kennedy use references from past wars America had been involved in as examples.
In the “Four Freedoms” speech, given by Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6th, 1941, Roosevelt was preparing the nation for sacrifice and hardship. During the time of his speech, World War Two was pretty much in full swing and America was leaning towards neutrality. Roosevelt wanted to persuade his audience to join the war because he believes that “at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened…” (p. 269). Roosevelt talks about how most of the crucial times in America have been because of our own domestic problems, such as the Civil war that threatened our unity as a nation. He also discusses how America has rights of freedom and “peaceful commerce” (p. 270). While trying to persuade Americans to join the war he uses emotional appeals saying that they should think about the freedom of their children’s children. One of the most famous parts of Roosevelt’s speech was his four freedoms, that’s probably why the speech is called the “Four Freedoms”. Roosevelt says the four freedoms are the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom of religion, the freedom of want, and the freedom of fear. He explains that these freedoms should be known and applied in every country all over the globe. Four this speech Roosevelt’s audience was the Seventy-seventh Congress as in his first sentence he says “I address you, the Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress…” (p. 269). Not only does Roosevelt address Congress, but he also addresses the citizens of America.
“Ask not what your country can do for you… ask what you can do for your country.” (p. 286) is one of the most influential quotes in the 20th century taken from John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. Kennedy voiced his speech on January 20th, 1961 discussing what he as a president would do for his country while in office. During this time America was involved in the Cold War and Kennedy focused his speech on his goal to abolish all poverty in the United States and how he knows Americans have the power to do so “For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty…” (p. 283). Kennedy also claims that America has changed very much since the time of the Revolutionary war, but “the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe… the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” (p. 284). He talks about how we should never forget that we are the outcome of that first revolution and, like Roosevelt, that the world should never forget the idea that all humans have the right of freedom. Kennedy addresses other countries, nations, and states, and he promises loyalty to allies and requests a hunt for peace from the opposing sides in the Cold War before another war can occur. He says, “Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems what divide us.” (p. 285). When Kennedy says this he means that the world focuses too much on the problems that divide us and that everyone should focus on the problems that they can solve together and that bring them together like the right of freedom that all humans are obliged to. Kennedy’s audience when he gives his speech, in this case, is the whole world. Normally when a president gives his inaugural address he only directs his goals towards Americans, but Kennedy tells the whole world that America doesn’t mess around, that “this nation has always been committed…” (p. 284), and that America is not afraid to defend itself. Kennedy’s audience is more focused on freedom and peace rather than being involved in a war.
Two of the most famous speeches in American history is John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech. Both speeches discuss freedom in America and how it is a human right and should be fought for all over the world. Freedom comes in many different ways like freedom of speech and expression and self-freedom. Also, the way that power and freedom have a relationship, that you need to attain a specific level of power to have a certain amount of freedom to do what you want. However, both speeches differ in many ways too. They are given at different times of crisis in America. Kennedy’s speech was given during the cold war and America was struggling economically and Roosevelt’s speech was given in the midst of World War Two. The two speeches had different audiences and different purposes. Roosevelt’s speech was addressed to the Seventy-seventh Congress and he was trying to convince them to join the war and not be neutral. Kennedy’s speech was addressed to the whole world and he was discussing his hopes and goals that he would try to accomplish while in office. In the future, there will be many more presidents that will give speeches about freedom and the rights we have as humans while wars are on the verge of breaking out.