Guest Essayist: Dr. Roberta Herzberg, Utah State University Department of Political Science

FDR and the Second Bill of Rights

As World War 2 was winding down, Franklin Delano Roosevelt set his sights for the nation on transitioning the newly expanded role of government from the war effort to an expanded social and economic role. FDR called for the guarantees outlined in this address, as he argued that “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” By assuming a role in protecting citizens from the potential problems of their own economic security, government entered an arena in which the citizen operates as a co-producer of the circumstance. Those with the most to gain would seek additional services, while others ignored the pattern of growing government until its scope and size became overwhelming. Read more

As victory in the Second World War looked more and more likely, President Roosevelt turned his attention to postwar America. In this speech he proposes a “second Bill of Rights.”

January 11, 1944

…It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people–whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth–is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. Read more