Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Before the Council of the Organization of American States.

April 12, 1953

Mr. Chairman, members of the Council, ladies and gentlemen:

My pride and pleasure in participating in the ceremonies today have a simple source. They spring from the pride which the whole citizenry of the United States feels in the Pan American Union and the ideals for which it stands.

The code that governs our union is founded upon the most deeply held moral convictions. And this fact makes especially appropriate our meeting on this, our Sabbath Day.

Ours is an historic and meaningful unity. It has been--for our whole continent--an honest and productive unity. It can be--for other areas of the world--a prophetic and inspiring unity. For it is triumphant testimony, before all the world, that peace and trust and fellowship can rule the conduct of all nations, large and small, who will respect the life and dignity of each other.

In this deepest sense, then, we nations of America do more than enjoy a political system constructed for ourselves. We are custodians of a way of life that can be instructive for all mankind.

The history of the Americas over the span of the 63 years since the founding of our regional organization has not been spotlessly perfect. Like all peoples, our nations--every one of them, the United States included--have at times been guilty of selfish and thoughtless actions. In all dealings with our neighbors we have not always bravely resisted the temptations of expediency.

But the special merit of the Pan American achievement is to have triumphed as well as we have over the temptations of heedless nationalism. We have seen and we have acted on the need to work cooperatively together to achieve common purposes. So doing, we have forged a true community of equal nations.

I am profoundly dedicated personally to doing all that I can to perfect the understanding and trust upon which this community must rest.

The vitality of this unity springs, first of all, from our common acceptance of basic moral and juridical principles. But it is inspired no less by our recognition of the rights of each of our nations, under these principles, to perfect its own individual life and culture. Ours is no compulsory unity of institutions. Ours is a unity that welcomes the diversity, the initiative and the imagination that make our common association progressive and alive. This is the true way of the Americas--the free way--by which people are bound together for the common good.

I know that these facts, these simple ideals, are not new. But they are given a new, a sharp meaning, by the nature of the tension tormenting our whole world. For it is not possible for this hemisphere to seek security or salvation in any kind of splendid isolation.

The forces threatening this continent strike at the very ideals by which our peoples live. These forces seek to bind nations not by trust but by fear. They seek to promote, among those of us who remain free and unafraid, the deadliest divisions--class against class, people against people, nation against nation. They seek not to eradicate poverty and its causes--but to exploit it and those who suffer it.

Against these forces the widest oceans offer no sure defense. The seeds of hate and of distrust can be born on winds that heed no frontier or shore.

Our defense, our only defense, is in our own spirit and our own will. We who are all young nations, in whom the pioneering spirit is still vitally alive, need neither to fear the future nor be satisfied with the present. In our spiritual, cultural and material life, in all that concerns our daily bread and our daily learning, we do and should seek an ever better world.

We know that this economic and social betterment will not be achieved by engaging in experiments alien to our very souls, or listening to prophets seeking to destroy our very lives.

We know that it can come to pass only by faithfully applying the rules of national conduct we know to have been tested and proven wise: a mutual trust that makes us honorable and understanding neighbors, and a self-reliance that summons each nation to work to the full for its own welfare.

I do not think it unjust to claim for the government and the people of the United States a readiness, rarely matched in history, to help other nations improve their living standards and guard their security. Despite unprecedented burdens of national debt and world wide responsibility, our people have continued to demonstrate this readiness.

Private investment has been the major stimulus for economic development throughout this hemisphere. Beyond this, the United States government is today engaged with our sister republics in important efforts to increase agricultural productivity, improve health conditions, encourage new industries, extend transportation facilities, and develop new sources of power.

The pursuit of each of these goals in any one nation of the Americas serves the good of all the Americas. Knowing this, I am anxious that the government of the United States be fully informed of the economic and social conditions now prevailing throughout our continent and of all the efforts being pressed to bring a better life to all our peoples. Such an assessment can properly be made only through direct personal understanding of the facts. Because my current duties make impossible my making personal visits of courtesy to the countries of Latin America, as I wish I could do, I have asked my brother, Dr. Milton Eisenhower, President of Pennsylvania State College, to visit shortly a number of these great republics. He will carry to each of the governments he visits the most sincere and warm greetings of this Administration. He will report to me, to Secretary of State Dulles and to Assistant Secretary Cabot, on ways to be recommended for strengthening the bonds of friendship between us and all our neighbors in this Pan American Union.

Today, Mr. Chairman, I think it appropriate to conclude with this one thought: However real and just be our concern with constructive material development, we must never forget that the strength of America continues ever to be the spirit of America.

We are Christian nations, deeply conscious that the foundation of all liberty is religious faith.

Upon all our peoples and nations there rests, with equal weight, a responsibility to serve worthily the faith we hold and the freedom we cherish--to combat demagoguery with truth, to destroy prejudice with understanding and, above all, to thwart our common enemies by our fervent dedication to our common cause.

So dedicated, our republics, united in spirit, can look forward to a future of happy and productive peace.

Mr. Chairman, for the great honor you have done me in inviting me to this platform, I am grateful. To you, to the other members of the Council, and to each member of ,this audience, thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:30 p.m. at the Pan American Union. His opening words "Mr. Chairman" referred to Ambassador Rene Lepervanche Parparcen, Representative of Venezuela.

On June 22 the White House released a statement by Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower on the eve of his departure to visit the 10 Republics of South America. In a later statement, released July 29, Dr. Eisenhower reported briefly on his 36-day tour, during which he and his associates held extended discussions with Presidents, Cabinet ministers, and leaders in the fields of labor, education, agriculture, and finance. He stated that he returned with a deep conviction that sound, friendly relations with the Republics of South America are tremendously important to the United States--economically, militarily, and culturally--and critically important in the worldwide struggle for the winning of men's minds and allegiances.

On November 19 the President made public a summary of Dr. Eisenhower's final report, based on the good-will tour and on several months of further study and consultation. The report, dated November 18, 1953, was made available by the State Department.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before the Council of the Organization of American States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231627

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