Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the Second World War. Freedom springs forth immediately with FDR’s 1941 speech on The Four Freedoms, highlighted in the Voices of Freedom. Attempting to give the war an ideological meaning and convince the American public that it had to be prepared, Roosevelt linked the war’s meaning with the freedoms that Americans have taken for granted for years. The chapter looks at FDR’s foreign policy in Latin America, the road leading up to the European and Pacific wars, and America’s reluctance to intervene until Pearl Harbor.

The war on the home front is examined. Americans mobilized quickly and business and labor worked to make America an Arsenal for Democracy while the OWI promoted the Four Freedoms to the American public. The intellectual debates about how the postwar world might define freedom are examined through the writings of Henry Luce, Henry Wallace, Friedrich Hayek and FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights.

Ethnic minorities’ experiences during the war were varied. While Indians and Mexican-Americans had some opportunities, Japanese-Americans were interned for the war, held as criminals without evidence or due process. Blacks saw the war as an opportunity to win two victories -- one abroad and one at home. The modern civil rights movement gets its start with the war, particularly through the work of A. Philip Randolph and through the support of the new liberalism.

The war ends with the dawn of the atomic age, which its use remains controversial to this day. Preparing for the postwar world, meetings at Bretton Woods and Dunbarton Oaks laid the foundation for a new economic order and international political structure.

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