Tagged: history

FDR & Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

In the famous conclusion of his January 1941 speech, FDR named four “essential human freedoms”—freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship as one chooses, freedom from fear (of armed aggression, for example), and freedom from want (for destabilizing “social and economic problems,” he pointed out, had birthed the appalling political movements that now threatened American security). In each case the president pointedly added that these freedoms must prevail everywhere in the world.

Each year before Thanksgiving, I have students listen to a portion of FDR’s Speech.


What Do Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms Mean to You? Consider Norman Rockwell’s iconic Four Freedoms paintings, then interpret each of FDR’s 4 freedoms for yourself, your own way.

Choose just one, or all four. Use large paper (12×16). I permit students to choose whether or not they want to use paint, colored pencil, or marker to color their posters once they’ve drawn them, depending on the age level, teachers can customize this to be full-blown paintings, collages, digital collages, or just sketchbook or art journal prompts.

At one time, I taught both 8th Grade Civics and 8th Grade Art- obviously this is a great way to integrate disciplines or develop cross-curricular projects. History/Social Studies students (including HS, not just MS) could analyze the text of the speech before creating an artwork. When I taught Civics, I liked to have students scan Eleanor Roosevelt’s preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) for influence of or allusion to her late husband’s speech.

Excerpt from President Roosevelt’s 1941 Annual Message to Congress

September 2018 | CBS SUNDAY MORNING–Norman Rockwell’s The Four Freedoms Today

Grading Rubric

Objective/CriteriaGrading Scale
Subject & Elements of Design
(Careful Observation & Accurate Depiction of source materials)
3 Good
2 Satisfactory
1 Needs Improvement
Formal Principles of Design
(Arrangement of elements effectively capture, maintain and direct attention of viewers)
3 Good
2 Satisfactory
1 Needs Improvement
Content, Meaning & Impact Invoke Mood, Feeling Evoke Memories, Associations Provoke Reactions, Thought, Discussion, Action
3 Good
2 Satisfactory
1 Needs Improvement
Improving with or adapting to materials used.
3 Good
2 Satisfactory
1Needs Improvement
Engaging, Persisting, Planning, EXPRESSION, Observing, Reflection, & Pushing yourself
3 Good
2 Satisfactory
1 Needs Improvement


  • VA:Cr1.2.8a – Collaboratively shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of present-day life using a contemporary practice of art and design.
  • VA:Cr2.1.8a – Demonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of art-making or designing.
  • VA:Cr2.3.8a – Select, organize, and design images and words to make visually clear and compelling presentations.
  • VA:Cr3.1.8a – Apply relevant criteria to examine, reflect on, and plan revisions for a work of art or design in progress.
  • VA:Re7.1.8a – Explain how a person’s aesthetic choices are influenced by culture and environment and impact the visual image that one conveys to others.
  • VA:Re7.2.8a – Compare and contrast contexts and media in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
  • VA:Re8.1.8a – Interpret art by analyzing how the interaction of subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, use of media, art-making approaches, and relevant contextual information contributes to understanding messages or ideas and mood conveyed.
  • VA:Cr2.3.IIa – Redesign an object, system, place, or design in response to contemporary issues.


Dream Prayer

I DARE you to pray this today-


Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial
injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s
Dear Lord, let the dream of little children one day living in
a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by their character come true.
Lord Jesus, let freedom ring, let it ring from every
tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, help us to speed up that day when all of Your children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and
Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of
the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God
Almighty, we are free at last.”

In Jesus name,

Words & Pictures Matter

Annotated Gettysburg Address

 Listen to ‘Maladjustedd’ Podcast; Season 2 Episode 4

A Few Facts About the Battle of Gettysburg

  • After a great victory over Union forces at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee marched his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania in late June 1863
  • The Confederacy hoped that by bringing the war into the northern states, northern politicians would abandon the war and normalize the South’s secession.
  • The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, is considered a major turning point of the American Civil War. 
  • Estimated 51,112 casualties in this one battle, 31K Union, 39K Confederate; he bloodiest single battle of the entire war

A Few Facts About the Speech

  • Lincoln gave it November 19, 1863. He’d been working on drafts for a few days. The legend that he wrote it on the back of an envelope came from the fact that he continued to make notes and revisions even on the train right from Washington to Pennsylvania.
  • Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 3,500 Union soldiers killed in the Battle of Gettysburg
  • A few weeks after the burial process started, in October, a dedication ceremony was planned for the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.  The cemetery committee chose Massachusetts statesman and orator Edward Everett to deliver the main speech. The committee asked President Abraham Lincoln to deliver “a few appropriate remarks.”  At the November 19 ceremony, Everett spoke for two hours on the causes of war and the events that led to the Battle of Gettysburg.  

Lincoln’s Speech with Mr. Mallory’s Commentary

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

A “score” is 20 years, so 4 score and 7 is 87. 1863-1776=87, he’s talking about the Declaration of Independence. The important part isn’t the date it’s the “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Conceived in liberty means that the United States was based on principles of self-government and limits of law and order even on our rulers. That was the British tradition of rights and freedoms going back to the Magna Carta in 1215 AD. The first part of the Declaration of Independence is a treatise on “Social Contract Theory,” the idea that people agree to set up governments existed to protect our rights and basic needs together- we enter a contract together. Without spelling it out Lincoln is insinuating that the Southern states had broken that contract and violated the Constitution when they rebelled and left the union, insisting instead on a form of tyrrany, which included slavery.

Which brings us to “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” The part of the Declaration which we all remember is “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Maybe what Jefferson meant was that American colonists had as much right to self-government at the Dukes and Barons and Aristocrats in the House of Lords in parliament, but Lincoln was now making it clear to the mostly poor immigrants fighting for the Union in the Civil War, that this war wasn’t about federalism vs. antifederalism, Southern politicians had threatened to leave over slavery, they left over slavery, so make not mistake; if we believe that “all men are created equal,” are we willing to fight for it?

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 

Lincoln wanted to make the stakes clear. If we were willing to just roll over and let the confederacy secede, we didn’t really believe in liberty or equality. That’s why this was a test. It was testing not only whether genuine democracy could work after 87 years, and not only our resolve, but whether we really believed in the principles we’d been claiming to believe in for the last nine decades.

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

Thank you Captain obvious. Tell us something we don’t know. It’s printed right here on the program.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

Now That’s saying something both humble and profound. It’s not about him. It’s not about Edward Everett or Pennsylvania  Governor Andrew Curtin or the Mayor or town council of Gettysburg or the President and professors of Gettysburg Seminary or the members of the committee to establish a memorial there. It was about the thousands of soldiers killed, mortally wounded, injured and captured there. Soldiers fighting to keep the United States alive, fighting to keep liberty and equality alive. That’s who made it a holy place.

Dedicate, consecrate, and hallow are all synonyms. He’s using repetition for effect here. To make something holy (hallow) is to say that it’s special. To be consecrated means to be sacred- revered. Lincoln’s deliberately using religious sounding language. To be dedicated is to be set aside for a special purpose. This would no longer be farmland or wilderness, it would be a cemetery. And not just a cemetery, a special one for military dead. A place that needed to be remembered- an event that needed to be remembered. But Lincoln was about to go on to make a point that it wasn’t even the soldiers that we need to remember, but we need to remember the cause that that died for- and to take up that cause.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. 

On the one hand- little did he know right? That more than 150 years later people all over the world remember, and study this little 2 minute speech. On the other hand, had you ever heard of Edward Everet before I mentioned him a little bit ago?

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

Lincoln wants us to be dedicated, consecrated, hallowed- not to get too creepy or too religious but to be “baptised” in the blood of the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg. To be commissioned for a mission, to be initiated into the sacred brotherhood of knights fighting for the same things they were conceived in and dedicated to. Woof! That;s heady stuff.

This is more than just a coach’s pep talk at halftime in the locker room to a team losing an important game. This is a call to something holy. Something akin to saving the world. Something our future depends on. He’s evoking destiny itself. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion 

Devotion is another religious sounding word. To be devoted means absolute commitment. A devout believer isn’t casual. They’re disciples, pilgrims, apostles. They’re on a mission for God. And what’s the cause? Just sending Lee’s army back to Virginia? Restoring the Union? Punishing treason? Or was it something bigger? Was it preventing the death of the nation? 

Remember what Lincoln said the war was testing? Whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated could long survive. Conceived how? Dedicated to what?

“Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s calling us to fight for liberty and equality. Principles worth dying for.

— that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain 

Resolve: to decide firmly on a course of action. But not just an empty promise like a New Year’s resolution. To die in vain- without success or a result, to die for no good reason. If we’re serious about a memorial (or about Memorial Day), it’s not enough to acknowledge their deaths or just admire their cause. If we aren’t also dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, then it doesn’t really matter that they died. If we’re waving the Confederate flag, why’d they die? If we think we’re better than everybody else because of our skin color- which, by the way, we didn’t choose, what was the point?

— that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

For impact sake, I should let Lincoln have the last word, but I want to mention that Lincoln, again is using religious imagery, he’s evoking resurrection. He’s ending on a high note- giving us hope that that nation, that’s being tested whether or not it can long survive- it can live again, and it’s new life can be stronger, more robust and more honest- living up to its promises of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not just for wealthy land owning white males, but for everybody.

Is it any wonder than 100 years later in 1963 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would invoke both the Declaration of Independence and Abraham Lincoln in his famous “I have a dream speech,” where he shares that he had a dream that one day this nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of it’s creed. Again, religious language, a creed is a statement of belief- what it is you hold self-evident; like, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Finally, I want to let you know what I’ve tried to teach my Civics classes for the last twelve years- That “OFthe people, BY the people, FOR the people” bit- the one part everybody seems to remember without even trying to memorize the Gettysburg Address? Please try remembering this about it:

How can government be OF the people? Because you don’t have to be born into nobility or aristocracy. If “all men are created equal,” that means, as British philosopher John Locke postulated, we’re ALL capable of governing; whether that’s voting, having input or actually running for office.

How can government be BY the people? Because that’s our right. To say that we’re “endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights” means that we all have the inherent prerogative to participate and be represented, to have some influence. That’s the true meaning of liberty- not that we can do whatever we want whenever we want, but that we are free from any one person or segment of society controlling all the rest of us entirely. 

How can government be FOR the people? In practice, this is really hard, but in theory- look at Thomas Jefferson’s “Social Contract Theory;” “…to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government.” John Adams and James Madison made similar statements, that the very purpose of government was to protect the rights and well being of its people, not to preserve the power and privilege of some ruling class as had become the case in most of Europe by 1776. It’s not us and them anymore. We ARE our government. How can we be here for eachother?

I guess that’s another lesson. But don’t stop asking yourself;

“How can we ensure that these dead would not have died in vain?”

And “How can we make sure that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth?”

I don’t know about you, but personally, I think it’s be being devoted to the same cause to which they gave their last full measure of devotion- by being dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” 

I know that not everyone agrees with me, but that’s America.

Cap’n Sam Asks; How do we ‘Form a more perfect union?’

Got a question for ya; Who are “We the people?” Who’s government is it? Who IS the government? Was it the 55 rich white guys at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787? Is it the people we’ve voted for who represent us in Washington D.C.? Is it the people who are hired to work in all to government agencies and departments and bureaus in national, state and local governments? Or is it you? Is it me? Is it us, U-S? If it is, what’s that mean? Are you prepared to govern? What do we need to be equipped to govern our America? 75 years later in his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln called for a new birth of freedom so that government “OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people might not perish from this Earth.” What if it does? What would life be like? What’s it mean for life to be of, by, and for the people? I’ll as you again; who are “We the people?” What’s that mean to you? What’s it mean for all of us? I dunno, you tell me. YOU tell me.