The Second Bill of Rights or Bill of Economic Rights was proposed by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 11, 1944.[1] In his address, Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognise and should now implement, a second "bill of rights". Roosevelt argued that the "political rights" guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights had "proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness". His remedy was to declare an "economic bill of rights" to guarantee these specific rights:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the plan for a bill of social and economic rights in the State of the Union address of January 11, 1944 (filmed excerpt).

These rights have come to be known as economic rights; although not to be enshrined within the constitution, the hope of advocating the policy was that it would be 'encoded and guaranteed by federal law'.[2] Roosevelt stated that having such rights would guarantee American security and that the United States' place in the world depended upon how far the rights had been carried into practice. This safety has been described as a state of physical welfare, as well as "economic security, social security, and moral security" by American legal scholar Cass Sunstein.[3] Roosevelt pursued a legislative agenda to enact his second bill of rights by lending Executive Branch personnel to key Senate committees. This tactic, effectively a blending of powers, produced mixed results and generated a backlash from Congress which resulted in passage of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946. This Act provided funding for Congress to establish its own staffing for committees.[4]

Background edit

In the runup to the Second World War, the United States had suffered through the Great Depression following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Roosevelt's election at the end of 1932 was based on a commitment to reform the economy and society through a "New Deal" program. The first indication of a commitment to government guarantees of social and economic rights came in an address to the Commonwealth Club on September 23, 1932, during his campaign. The speech was written with Adolf A. Berle, a professor of corporate law at Columbia University. A key passage read:

As I see it, the task of government in its relation to business is to assist the development of an economic declaration of rights, an economic constitutional order. This is the common task of statesman and business man. It is the minimum requirement of a more permanently safe order of things.

Throughout Roosevelt's presidency, he returned to the same theme continually over the course of the New Deal. Also in the Atlantic Charter, an international commitment was made as the Allies thought about how to "win the peace" following victory in the Second World War. The US' commitment to non-interventionism in World War II ending with the 1941 Lend-Lease act, and later Pearl Harbor attacks, resulted in the mobilisation of the war state. The generous terms of the act, in conjunction with the economic growth of the US were key in allowing the US to establish new global order with the help of Allied powers in the aftermath of war. This motivation to establish a new global order provided the infrastructure for the implementation of an international standard of human rights, seen with the Second Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Akira Iriye's proposition that the US desired to transform the post war Pacific after their own image is representative of the wider desire to raise global standards to that of the US, feeding into ideals of American Exceptionalism.[5] The effect of wider democratisation and social reform is divulged upon in Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man.[6]

Roosevelt's speech edit

During Roosevelt's January 11, 1944, message to the Congress on the State of the Union, he said the following:[7]

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men."[8] People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Found footage edit

Fireside chat on the State of the Union (January 11, 1944)[9]

Roosevelt presented the January 11, 1944, State of the Union address to the public on radio as a fireside chat from the White House:

Today I sent my Annual Message to the Congress, as required by the Constitution. It has been my custom to deliver these Annual Messages in person, and they have been broadcast to the Nation. I intended to follow this same custom this year. But like a great many other people, I have had the "flu", and although I am practically recovered, my doctor simply would not let me leave the White House to go up to the Capitol. Only a few of the newspapers of the United States can print the Message in full, and I am anxious that the American people be given an opportunity to hear what I have recommended to the Congress for this very fateful year in our history — and the reasons for those recommendations. Here is what I said ...[9]

He asked that newsreel cameras film the last portion of the address, concerning the Second Bill of Rights. This footage was believed lost until it was uncovered in 2008 in South Carolina by Michael Moore while researching the film Capitalism: A Love Story.[10] The footage shows Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights address in its entirety as well as a shot of the eight rights printed on a sheet of paper.[11][12]

See also edit

Footnotes edit

  1. ^ This "right to work" is not to be confused with the "right-to-work laws" to which this term usually alludes inside the United States.

Citations edit

  1. ^ "A Second Bill of Rights". Franklin Delano Roosevelt Foundation. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  2. ^ Chuman, Joe. "A Second Bill of Rights". Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  3. ^ Sunstein, Cass (June 2004). "We Need to Reclaim the Second Bill of Rights". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 50: B9–B10. ProQuest 214695439.
  4. ^ Farley, Bill (January 25, 2021). "Blending Powers: Hamilton, FDR, and the Backlash That Shaped Modern Congress". Journal of Policy History. 33 (1): 60–92. doi:10.1017/S089803062000024X. ISSN 0898-0306. S2CID 231694131.
  5. ^ Iriye, Akira (1982). Power and Culture: The Japanese-American War, 1941-1945. Harvard University Press. pp. 261–262. ISBN 9780674695801.
  6. ^ Fukuyama, Francis (1992). The End of History and the Last Man. Penguin. ISBN 9780140134551.
  7. ^ "State of the Union Message to Congress". Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.
  8. ^ This phrase is found in the old English property law case, Vernon v Bethell (1762) 28 ER 838, according to Lord Henley LC
  9. ^ a b Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Fireside Chat 28: On the State of the Union (January 11, 1944)". Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  10. ^ "The Best Scenes From Michael Moore's New Movie". The Daily Beast. September 22, 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  11. ^ Capitalism: A Love Story at IMDb (starting approximately at time code 1:55:00)
  12. ^ Moore, Michael; et al. (2010). Capitalism: A Love Story (DVD). Traverse City, MI: Front Street Productions, LLC. OCLC 443524847. Retrieved July 25, 2015.

References edit

External links edit

Preceded by Second Bill of Rights
Succeeded by