Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms
When President Franklin Roosevelt addressed Congress in January 1941, he outlined America’s responsibility to protect four fundamental freedoms throughout the world. These “Four Freedoms” became an eloquent statement of American ideals when the U.S. entered the war and later formed the basis for the United Nations Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights.
The speech inspired illustrator Norman Rockwell to create “something bigger than a war poster.” Using his Vermont neighbors as models, he translated Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” into scenes of everyday American life. The government’s Office of War Information rejected the images, explaining that they sought the work of “real artists” rather than illustrators, Rockwell’s finished paintings eventually appeared in four consecutive issues of the Saturday Evening Post in early 1943. They went on to become some of the most widely-reproduced images of the era, adopted by the U.S. Treasury as the centerpiece of a massive drive for war bonds. Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” were used to define the values central to American life, explaining the ideals behind the country’s war aims.