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Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Four Freedoms and the Short Story

Lesson Overview

Overview: This lesson will explore a seminal document, President Roosevelt's Message to Congress, and the theme of freedom from fear-one of the four points of President Roosevelt's speech. After listening to the speech, the class will read and discuss an excerpt from Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family by Yoshiko Uchida and explore the theme of freedom from fear.
Grade Range: 9-12

As a results of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the impact of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Message to Congress and explain the different themes that are represented. 
Time Required: Two class periods of 45 minutes
Discipline/Subject: English
Topic/Subject: Government
Era: Great Depression/World War II, 1929-1945



Illinois Learning Standards:  
  Language Arts:
1-Read with understanding and fluency.
1.B-Apply reading strategies to improve understanding and fluency.
1.C-Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
2-Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras, and ideas.
2.A-Understand how literary elements and techniques are used to convey meaning.
2.B-Read and interpret a variety of literary works.
3-Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.
3.B-Compose well-organized and coherent writing for specific purposes and audiences.




Analysis Tools: Photo Analysis Worksheet and Graphic Organizer (print page 4-5 of PDF).
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source:Freedom of expression, of religion, from want, from fear everywhere in the world.
  Title of Source:Four Freedoms
  Title of Source:Civilian exclusion order #5, posted at First and Front streets, directing removal by April 7 of persons of Japanese ancestry, from the first San Francisco section to be affected by evacuation.
  Title of Source:Santa Anita reception center, Los Angeles, California. The evacuation of Japanese and Japanese-Americans from West Coast areas under U.S. Army war emergency order. Registering Japanese-Americans as they arrive
  Title of Source:Japanese-american camp, war emergency evacuation, (Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, Calif.
  Title of Source:Sumiko Shigematsu, foreman of power sewing machine girls, Manzanar Relocation Center, California
Online Resource: Title:Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum



1. Show LOC Item Freedom of expression, or religion, from want, from fear ask what the two images are, who/what is represented. Then explain and discuss pirctures.
2.  Show LOC Item Four Freedoms.  Play an excerpt from FDR's speech.
3. Show LOC Item Civilian exclusion order #5 and ask What are the four freedoms.
4. Show LOC Item Santa Anita reception center and discuss image.
5. Hand out graphic organizer (page 3 of PDF) and have students list what they know about Japanese internment camps and then discuss.
6. Show LOC Item Japanese-american Camp, War emergency evacuation and out Photo Analysis worksheet (page 4 of PDF), complete with class. Shwo LOC Item Sumiko Shigematsugive time for students to complete photo analysis. Discuss student's answers.



Evaluation will be derived from the students' graphic organizer and the follow-up discussion the following day. 


This lesson is the first of four lessons focusing on the different themes highlighted in FDR's Four Freedoms Speech. After discussing the short story that related to Freedom from Fear, the lesson will progress through the other three themes and related short stories/poems/ excerpts: Freedom from Want (The Weary Blues), Freedom of Speech (The Censors), and Freedom of worship (excerpt from Elie Wiesel's Night). Each short story, poem and excerpt will include a graphic organizer or follow-up questions. At the end of the unit, the students will be given a writing assignment to choose one of the themes and compose a fictional narrative. 

Authors Credits:
K. Taylor
Charleston High School