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Norman Rockwell Poster: Save Freedom of Speech

This is one of four World War II posters in the Treasury Collection designed by the popular American artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell encouraging Americans to "Buy War Bonds." Inspired by President Roosevelt's State of the Union address in 1941, Rockwell transformed the words of the President: Freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom to worship, and freedom of speech, into an artistic medium.

One of the most compelling and enduring legacies of the war, the "Four Freedoms" were originally published by the Saturday Evening Post in 1943 and subsequently reprinted by government agencies and private organizations. Between the four million posters printed during the war and the following editions, they became among the most reproduced works of all time.

Under the leadership of President Roosevelt and Treasury Secretary Henry Morganthau Jr., the Treasury Department took the "Four Freedoms" on a national tour, exhibiting them to 1.2 million people and selling more than $133 million in war bonds. In one of the greatest promotional campaigns ever undertaken, these four works were became central to the message being heard around the country. The efforts included numerous celebrities. Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Jack Benny, were among the over 450 involved.

During the course of the war bond drive, a symphony entitled, "The Four Freedoms," was composed by Robert Russell Bennett and performed by the NBC Symphony Orchestra at Radio City Music Hall in New York. FDR summarized their importance in the following. "I think you have done a superb job in bringing home the plain, everyday truths behind the Four Freedoms… I congratulate not alone on the execution, but also for the spirit which impelled you to make this contribution to the common cause of a happier world."

Rockwell painted various other posters for the effort and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 by President Ford (Gift of the Treasury Historical Association). While the originals are located in The Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge, the Treasury collection includes a print of all four of the "Freedoms" and are located in the Treasury Building.

FLW.996.36

Last Updated: December 12, 2008

Norman Rockwell Poster: Save Fredom of Speech, Buy War Bonds
Last Updated: 11/13/2010 8:20 PM