Addresses of the President of the United States on the occassion of his visit to South America, November & December 1936
From the Collection of
Rear Admiral Paul Henry Bastedo, USN
25 February 1887 - 17 April 1951
YOUR Excellency and Gentlemen of the Congress and of the Supreme Court of Brazil: Nearly half a century ago a little boy was walking with his father and mother in a park of a city in southern France. Toward them came a distinguished-looking elderly couple―Dom Pedro II and his Empress. That occasion was my first introduction to Brazil. In the years that have passed since that day―years measured by the splendid history of the Republic of Brazil―I have had the pleasure of meeting many of your statesmen and of becoming increasingly familiar with the problems which mutually affect our two nations. My visit to Rio de Janeiro today is therefore the realization of a growing desire to see Brazil with my own eyes. Every student has been told of the majestic beauty in which your great city is cradled. But Rio is unique in that the reality far exceeds our expectations. A visit―even of a single day―is one of the outstanding experiences of my life. The loveliness of nature would have been enough to bring me here―but my visit has another purpose. I was unwilling to come
so far abroad without tendering my respects to the Government of Brazil, that sister nation with which for more than a century we have maintained a tradition of good understanding, mutual regard, and cooperation, which is rare in history. I have had the honor of greeting your great President; and this personal friendship between the Chief Executives of our two nations seems to me not only of practical benefit but also of profound significance. You, gentlemen of the Congress, now afford me the courtesy of this agreeable opportunity of meeting in person the legislative branch of your Government and of exchanging thoughts directly with its members. I could not but be deeply sensible of the unique honor offered by the presence in this chamber of your Supreme Court, a tribunal whose high traditions are known throughout the juridical world. Thus, the executive, legislative, and judicial powers of the Government of Brazil have united in this demonstration of friendship toward the nation which I have the honor to represent. Let me now return thanks for this renewed proof of that brotherhood which has ever united Brazil and the United States―a fraternity not limited to the relations between our Governments but a fraternity which I have reason to know is made evident in every group in both countries whenever and wherever they meet. The fine record of our relations is the best answer to those pessimists who scoff at the idea of true friendship between nations. In the present state of the world it is heartening that the two largest countries in
this hemisphere have been able, by the exercise of good will, good temper, and good sense, to conduct the whole course of their relations without clash or conflict or ill feeling. Not only that. The confidence in each other’s aims and motives enables us to work together for the common good. We have a record of which we can be proud―a record of joint endeavor in the cause of peace in this New World. My country has derived strength and confidence from the farsighted, irreproachable attitude of Brazil in its devotion to arbitration, conciliation, and other methods for the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Your first concern, like ours, is peace, for we know that war destroys not only human lives and human happiness but destroys as well the ideals of individual liberty and of the democratic form of representative government, which is the goal of all the American Republics. I think I can say that if in the generations to come we can live without war, democratic government throughout the Americas will prove its complete ability to raise the standards of life for those millions who cry for opportunity today. The motto of war is: “Let the strong survive; let the weak die.” The motto of peace is: “Let the strong help the weak to survive.” There is room for all of us, without treading on one another’s toes. There are resources of nature adequate for our present and our future. We are happily free from ancient antagonisms which have brought so much misery to other parts of the world. There are, it is true, conflicts of interest between the American States, but they cannot be called serious or difficult of solution when
compared with the deeply rooted hates of other continents. There is no American conflict―and I weigh my words when I say this―there is no American conflict that cannot be settled by orderly and peaceful means. And it is in our common interest imperative that they be settled always by agreement and not by bloodshed.We serve not ourselves alone. The friendly nations of the Americas can render no greater service to civilization itself than by maintaining both domestic and international peace and by freeing themselves forever from conflict. We are about to gather in a great American Conference called by President Justo in furtherance of the good-neighbor policy in which we all share. In this Conference we have the opportunity to banish war from the New World and dedicate it to peace. It is unthinkable to me that in this time of world-wide apprehension we should fail to seize the opportunity to meet what is a heavy responsibility. This is no time to hesitate. We must be guided by a serene and generous view of our common needs. World horizons may be dark, but the time is auspicious for our task in America. The rest of the world presents a grim picture of armed camps and threats of conflict. But on our own continent armed clashes which in recent years have divided American countries have been happily brought to an end. It is gratifying to be able to pay well-deserved tribute to the very outstanding part played by your able and distinguished Foreign Minister Macedo Soares in the mediatory efforts of the representatives of six American Republics. And the Leticia question was settled here in Rio through the patient
assistance and masterly diplomacy of Dr. Afranio Mello Franco. The progress we have made must not be allowed to serve as a pretext for resting on our laurels; it should, on the contrary, stimulate us to new and increased effort. It is not enough that peace prevails from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the Atlantic to the Pacific; it is essential that this condition be made permanent, that w e provide effectively against the recurrence of the horrors of war, and assure peace to ourselves and our posterity. All instrumentalities for the maintenance of peace must be consolidated and reinforced. We cannot countenance aggression, from wheresoever it may come. The people of each and every one of the American Republics―and, I am confident, the people of the Dominion of Canada as well―wish to lead their own lives free from desire for conquest and free from fear of conquest; free at the same time to expand their cultural and intellectual relationships and to take counsel together to encourage the peaceful progress of modern civilization. Our aims will best be served by agreements which bring peace, security, and friendship among us and all our neighbors. Solidarity among the American States in the cause of peace constitutes no threat to other regions or races. The honorable adherence to solemn agreements among us will harm no other continent. On the contrary, the more firmly peace is established in this hemisphere, the more closely we live up to the spirit as well as the letter of our agreements, the better it will be for all the rest of the world. Let us present a record which our hemisphere may give to the world as convincing
proof that peace lies always at hand when nations, serene in their sovereign security, meet their current problems with understanding and good will. All of us have learned that no real, no lasting, prosperity can exist where it is secured at the expense of our neighbors; that among nations, as in our domestic relations, the principle of interdependence is paramount. No nation can live entirely to itself. Each one of us has learned the glories of independence. Let each one of us learn the glories of independence. Economically we supply each other’s needs; intellectually we maintain a constant, a growing, exchange of culture, of science, and of thought; spiritually the life of each can well enrich the life of all. We are showing in international relations what we have long known in private relations―that good neighbors make a good community. In that knowledge we meet today as neighbors. We can discard the dangerous language of rivalry; we can put aside the empty phrases of “diplomatic triumphs” or “shrewd bargains.” We can forget all thought of domination, of selfish coalitions, or of balances of power. Those false gods have no place among American neighbors. Happily the relations between Brazil and the United States have transcended those lesser conceptions. Secure in unbroken respect and friendship, we meet with full respect each for the other, with every hope that our mutual regard may prove useful to others as well. There has never been a time when this confidence between Brazil and the United States was more precious or more needed.
I know from my enlightening conversation with President Vargas that we are entering the coming Conference deeply mindful of our responsibilities and the need to work in fullest understanding with all of the Republics of this hemisphere. If we are guided by wisdom, such comprehension will banish conflict from this part of the world. We are entitled to hope that we may thus contribute to the universal ideal that nations throughout the entire world, laying weapons aside, may at last fulfill the greatest ambition which any nation, large or small, can havethat of contributing steadily and above all generously to the advance off well-being, culture, and civilization throughout the changing years.
[Delivered November 27, 1936]
Address of PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT before the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Peace Assembled at Buenos Aires, Argentina
MEMBERS of the American Family of Nations: On the happy occasion of the convening of this Conference I address you thus, because members of a family need no introduction or formalities when, in pursuance of excellent custom, they meet together for their common good. As a family we appreciate the hospitality of our host, President Justo, and the Government and people of Argentina; and all of us are happy that to our friend Dr. Saavedra Lamas has come the welldeserved award of the Nobel Prize for great service in the cause of world peace. Three years ago the American family met in nearby Montevideo, the great capital of the Republic of Uruguay. They were dark days. A shattering depression, unparalleled in its intensity, held us, with the rest of the world, in its grip. And in our own hemisphere a tragic war was raging between two of our sister Republics. Yet, at that conference there was born not only hope for our common future but a greater measure of mutual trust between the American democracies than had ever existed before. In this Western
Hemisphere the night of fear has been dispelled. Many of the intolerable burdens of economic depression have been lightened and, due in no small part to our common efforts, every nation of this hemisphere is today at peace with its neighbors. This is no conference to form alliances, to divide the spoils of war, to partition countries, to deal with human beings as though they were pawns in a game of chance. Our purpose, under happy auspices, is to assure the continuance of the blessings of peace. Three years ago, recognizing that a crisis was being thrust upon the New World, with splendid unanimity our twenty-one Republics set an example to the whole world by proclaiming a new spirit, a new day, in the affairs of this hemisphere. While the succeeding period has justified in full measure all that was said and done at Montevideo, it has unfortunately emphasized the seriousness of threats to peace among other nations. Events elsewhere have served only to strengthen our horror of war and all that war means. The men, women, and children of the Americas know that warfare in this day and age means more than the mere clash of armies: they see the destruction of cities and of farms; they foresee that children and grandchildren, if they survive, will stagger for long years not only under the burden of poverty but also amid the threat of broken society and the destruction of constitutional government. I am profoundly convinced that the plain people everywhere in the civilized world today wish to live in peace one with another. And still leaders and governments resort to war. Truly, if the genius of mankind that has invented the weapons of death cannot discover
the means of preserving peace, civilization as we know it lives in an evil day. But we cannot now, especially in view of our common purpose, accept any defeatist attitude. We have learned by hard experience that peace is not be had for the mere asking; that peace, like other great privileges, can be obtained only by hard and painstaking effort. We are here to dedicate ourselves and our countries to that work. You who assemble today carry with you in your deliberations the hopes of millions of human beings in other less-fortunate lands. Beyond the ocean we see continents rent asunder by old hatreds and new fanaticisms. We hear the demand that injustice and inequality be corrected by resorting to the sword and not by resorting to reason and peaceful justice. We hear the cry that new markets can be achieved only through conquest. We read that the sanctity of treaties between nations is disregarded. We know, too, that vast armaments are rising on every side and that the work of creating them employs men and women by the millions. It is natural, however, for us to conclude that such employment is false employment; that it builds no permanent structures and creates no consumers’ goods for the maintenance of a lasting prosperity. We know that nations guilty of these follies inevitably face the day when either their weapons of destruction must be used against their neighbors or when an unsound economy, like a house of cards, will fall apart. In either case, even though the Americas become involved in no war, we must suffer too. The madness of a great war in other parts
of the world would affect us and threaten our good in a hundred ways. And the economic collapse of any nation or nations must of necessity harm our own prosperity. Can we, the Republics of the New World, help the Old World to avert the catastrophe which impends? Yes; I am confident that we can. First, it is our duty by every honorable means to prevent any future war among ourselves. This can best be done through the strengthening of the processes of constitutional democratic government; by making these processes conform to the modern need for unity and efficiency and, at the same time, preserving the individual liberties of our citizens. By so doing, the people of our nations, unlike the people of many nations who live under other forms of government, can and will insist on their intention to live in peace. Thus will democritic government be justified throughout the world. In this determination to live at peace among ourselves we in the Americas make it at the same time clear that we stand shoulder to shoulder in our final determination that others who, driven by war madness or land hunger, might seek to commit acts of aggression against us will find a hemisphere wholly prepared to consult together for our mutual safety and our mutual good. I repeat what I said in speaking before the Congress and the Supreme Court of Brazil: “Each one of us has learned the glories of independence. Let each one of us learn the glories of interdependence .” Secondly, and in addition to the perfecting of the mechanisms of peace, we can strive even more strongly than in the past to prevent
the creation of those conditions which give rise to war. Lack of social or political justice within the borders of any nation is always cause for concern. Through democratic processes we can strive to achieve for the Americas the highest possible standard of living conditions for all our people. Men and women blessed with political freedom, willing to work and able to find work, rich enough to maintain their families and to educate their children, contended with their lot in life and on terms of friendship with their neighbors will defend themselves to the utmost, but will never consent to take up arms for a war of conquest. Interwoven with these problems is the further self-evident fact that the welfare and prosperity of each of our nations depend in large part on the benefits derived from commerce among ourselves and with other nations, for our present civilization rests on the basis of an international exchange of commodities. Every nation of the world has felt the evil effects of recent efforts to erect trade barriers of every known kind. Every individual citizen has suffered from them. It is no accident that the nations which have carried this process farthest are those which proclaim most loudly that they require war as an instrument of their policy. It is no accident that attempts to be selfsufficient have led to falling standards for their people and to ever-increasing loss of the democratic ideals in a mad race to pile armament on armament. It is no accident that because of these suicidal policies and the suffering attending them many of their people have come with despair that the price of war seems less than the price of peace.
This state of affairs we must refuse to accept with every instinct of defense, with every exhortation of enthusiastic hope, with every use of mind and skill. I cannot refrain here from reiterating my gratification that in this, as in so many other achievements, the American Republics have given a salutary example to the world. The resolution adopted at the Inter-American Conference at Montevideo endorsing the principles of liberal trade policies has shone forth like a beacon in the storm of economic madness which has been sweeping over the entire world during these later years. Truly, if the principles there embodied find still wider application in your deliberations, it will be a notable contribution to the cause of piece. For my own part I have done all in my power to sustain the consistent efforts of my Secretary of State in negotiating agreements for reciprocal trade, and even though the individual results may seem small, the total of them is significant. These policies in recent weeks have received the approval of the people of the United States, and they have, I am sure, the sympathy of the other nations here assembled. There are many other causes for war―among them, long-festering feuds, unsettled frontiers, territorial rivalries. But these sources of danger which still exist in the Americas, I am thankful to say, are not only few in number but already on the way to peaceful adjudication. While the settlement of such controversies may need necessarily involve adjustments at home or in our relations with our neighbors which may appear to involve material sacrifice, let no man or women forget that there is no profit in war. Sacrifices in the
cause of peace are infinitesimal compared with the holocaust of war. Peace comes from the spirit and must be grounded in faith. In seeking peace, perhaps we can best begin by proudly affirming the faith of the Americas: the faith in freedom and its fulfillment, which has proved a mighty fortress beyond reach of successful attack in half the world. That faith arises from a common hope and a common design given us by our fathers in differing form but with a single aim: freedom and security of the individual, which has become the foundation of our peace. If, then, by making war in our midst impossible, and if within ourselves and among ourselves we can give greater freedom and fulfillment to the individual lives of our citizens, the democratic form of representative government will have justified the high hopes of the liberating fathers. Democracy is still the hope of the world. If we in our generation can continue its successful application in the Americas, it will spread and supersede other methods by which men are governed and which seem to most of us to run counter to our ideals of human liberty and human progress.Three centuries of history sowed the seeds which grew into our nations; the fourth century saw those nations become equal and free and brought us to a common system of constitutional government; the fifth century is giving to us a common meeting ground of mutual help and understanding. Our hemisphere has at last come of age. We are here assembled to show its unity to the world. We took from our ancestors a great dream. We here offer it back as a great unified reality.
Finally, in expressing our faith of the Western World, let us affirm: That we maintain and defend the democratic form of constitutional representative government. That through such government we can more greatly provide a wider distribution of culture, of education, of thought, and of free expression. That through it we can obtain a greater security of life for our citizens and a more equal opportunity for them to prosper. That through it we can best foster commerce and the exchange of art and science between nations. That through it we can avoid the rivalry of armaments, avert hatreds, and encourage good will and true justice. That through it we offer hope for peace and a more abundant life to the peoples of the whole world. But this faith of the Western World will not be complete if we fail to affirm our faith in God. In the whole history of mankind, far back into the dim past before men knew how to record thoughts or events, the human race has been distinguished from other forms of life by the existence, the fact, of religion. Periodic attempts to deny God have always come and will always come to naught. In the constitution and in the practice of our nations is the right of freedom of religion. But this ideal, these words, presuppose a belief and a trust in God. The faith of the Americas, therefore, lies in the spirit. The system, the sisterhood, of the Americas is impregnable so long as her nations maintain that spirit.
In that faith and spirit we will have peace over the Western World. In that faith and spirit we will all watch and guard our hemisphere. In that faith and spirit may we also, with God's help, offer hope to our brethren overseas.
[Delivered December 1, 1936]
YOUR, Excellency President Terra, and Señora de Terra: It is a privilege today to be the guest of the Government of the Republic of Uruguay, and it is a great personal pleasure to which I have looked forward for many years. Here three years ago, in this beautiful city of Montevideo, there was born a new era of friendship and confidence among the Americas. No one is entitled to more credit for this new day than Your Excellency, for you labored unceasingly and generously both as host and as statesman for the success of that conference. I believe that when history comes to be written, the origin of the new American era will be placed here in the memorable year 1933. Truly, it is an inspiration for the average citizen of all our Republics that that conference is giving back its fruits in terms of achievement for the people of the world. During the past week I have become certain of this because I have seen in the faces of the men, women, and children in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and, today, in Montevideo a joyful expression of hope and faith which can and will inspire us, their chosen representatives, to even greater activity in the common cause. You, Mr. President, have used a term in speak ing of that great patriot, General Artigas, which can well be the inspiration of us all.
You have spoken of his "serene and noble spirit of applied justice." It is because of this spirit which actuated the founding fathers of the American Republicsthat we their followers are inspired to maintain the democratic principles for which they fought. I am particularly grateful for the kind words which you , Mr. President, have spoke
n concerning our policies in the United States of America. We fully join with you in the thought that the first battlefield of piece is that of securing well-being at home. It has been of special interest to me to know that you in the Republic of Uruguay have made such great advances in behalf of the well-being of your citizens.
In the days of General Artigas and of friend President Monroe, human society had, of course, little conception of the economic and social problems which we face today. None of the fathers of any of our Republics had even heard of an eight-hour day, of minimum wages, of protection for women and children, of collective bargaining between employers and employees, of old-age security, of modern sanitation, of concrete highways, of railroads or steel buildings. The fathers had no thought of the telegraph, the radio, the automobile, or of travel by fast steamships and by air. They knew little of the problems of modern science, of modern finance. And yet, you and I are very certain that if they were alive today the founders of our governments would look with approval on what we are seeking to do to use the processes of democratic government in solving the new problems. I recognize, as you do, that these new problems are common to all our nations. I am glad that you have said that we have been
compelled to abandon the comfortable attitude of statesman of the old school. Every nation in all the world has been compelled to recognize the fact of new conditions. It is of the utmost importance that the nations of the New World have found it possible under vigorous leadership to find the answer within the spirit and the framework of constitutional government and democratic processes. We have not completed our task. In accordance with the objectives and theory of democratic government, that task is a continuing one. We seek new remedies for new conditions; new conditions will continue to arise: sometimes the remedies succeed, and sometimes they must be altered or improved. But the net result is that we move forward. We learn, and ought to learn, much from each other―much that is good and some things which, from experience, we must avoid. In the case of agriculture, for example, you are familiar with the fact that in the United States we did many things in the past which ran counter to the laws of nature and of sensible economics. In many parts of my country we have used land in such a way as to diminish its productiveness, we have harmed our supply of water, and we have lost our topsoil. Today our Government seeks to work with our farming population in correcting these mistakes and in bringing back a greater prosperity and a more permanent use of the land. I cite this as an example, which you undoubtedly know of, to show the need among all our Republics of keeping in close touch with each other, for many of our problems are similar. On this delightful visit to Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay I have been impressed with the immediate need for better and quicker
services of travel and communication between North and South America. I look forward to the day when, instead of the journey being long and unusual, visits between the nations of South America and those of Central America and of North America will be so usual and simple that tends of thousands of our citizens will meet each other in friendly intercourse every year. And may I add that I hope that we shall have a much greater familiarity with each other’s language. It is a great regret of my life that while with some difficulty I can read a little Spanish I cannot yet converse in it. These visits which I am making on this voyage are so enjoyable in every way that I look forward to an opportunity to return in the future. When that day comes I hope that I shall be able to speak with all of you in your native tongue. And may I also express the hope that it will be possible for you, Mr. President and Señora de Terra, to be the guests of Mrs. Roosevelt and myself in Washington while we are still in the White House. Nothing would give us and the people of the United States more pleasure. It has touched me deeply that you have proposed a toast to Mrs. Roosevelt. She was deeply disappointed that she could not come with me, and she will be happy to know of your courtesy and of your thought of her. I lift my glass to the good health and happiness of you and Señora de Terra, and to the continued prosperity, happiness, and progress of the people of the Republic of Uruguay.
[Delivered December 3, 1936]
Source: Roosevelt, Franklin D. Addresses of the President of the United States on the occassion of his visit to South America, November & December 1936. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1937.