Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address on Hemisphere Defense, Dayton, Ohio.

October 12, 1940

My friends of the Americas:

It is no mere coincidence that this radio broadcast to the entire Western Hemisphere—North America, Central America and South America—should take place on the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World. No day could be more appropriate than this day on which we celebrate the exploits of the bold discoverer.

Today, all of us Americans of North and Central and South America, join with our fellow citizens of Italian descent to do honor to the name of Columbus.

Many and numerous have been the groups of Italians who have come in welcome waves of immigration to this hemisphere. They have been an essential element in the civilization and make-up of all the twenty-one Republics. During these centuries Italian names have been high in the list of statesmen in the United States and in the other Republics—and in addition, those who have helped to create the scientific, commercial, professional, and artistic life of the New World are well known to us.

The Americas have excelled in the adventure of many races living together in harmony. In the wake of the discoverers came the first settlers, the first refugees from Europe. They came to plough new fields, build new homes, establish a new society in a new world. Later, they fought for liberty. Men and women of courage, of enterprise, of vision, they knew what they were fighting for; they gained it—and thereby "gave hope to all the world for all future time."

They formed, here in the Western Hemisphere, a new human reservoir, and into it has poured the blood, the culture, the traditions of all the races and peoples of the earth. To the Americas they came—the "masses yearning to be free"—"the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues," cherishing common aspirations, not for economic betterment alone, but for the personal freedoms and liberties which had been denied to them in the Old World.

They came not to conquer one another but to live with one another. They proudly carried with them their inheritance of culture, but they cheerfully left behind them the burden of prejudice and hate.

In this New World were transplanted the great cultures of Spain and Portugal. In our own day the fact is that a great part of the Spanish and Portuguese culture of the entire world now comes from the Americas themselves.

It is natural that all American citizens from the many nations of the Old World should kindly remember the lands where their ancestors lived, and the great attributes of the old civilization in those lands. But in every single one of the American Republics, the first and final allegiance, the first and final loyalty of these citizens, almost without exception, is to the Republic in which they live and move and have their being.

For when our forefathers came to these shores, they came with a determination to stay to become citizens of the New World. As we established our independences, they wanted to become citizens of America—not an Anglo-Saxon American, nor an Italian-American, nor a German-American, nor a Spanish-American, nor a Portuguese-American— but just citizens of an independent nation of America.

Here, we do not have any dual citizenship. Here, the descendants of the very same races who had always been forced to fear or hate each other in lands across the ocean, have learned to live in peace and in friendship.

No one group or race in the New World has any desire to subjugate the others. No one nation in this hemisphere has any desire to dominate the others. In the Western Hemisphere no nation is considered a second-class nation.

We know that attempts have been made—we know that they will continue to be made, alas—to divide these groups within a nation, and to divide these nations among themselves.

There are those in the Old World who persist in believing that here in this new hemisphere the Americas can be torn by the hatreds and fears which have drenched the battle grounds of Europe for so many centuries. Americans as individuals, American Republics as nations, remain on guard against those who seek to break up our unity by preaching ancient race hatreds, by working on old fears, or by holding out glittering promises which they know to be false.

"Divide and conquer!" That has been the battle cry of the totalitarian powers in their war against the democracies. It has succeeded on the continent of Europe for the moment. On our continents it will fail.

We are determined to use our energies and our resources to counteract and repel the foreign plots and propaganda—the whole technique of underground warfare originating in Europe and now clearly directed against all the Republics on this side of the ocean.

That propaganda repeats and repeats that democracy is a decadent form of Government. They tell us that our old democratic ideal, our old traditions of civil liberties, are things of the past.

We reject that thought. We say that we are the future. We say that the direction in which they would lead us is backward, not forward—backward to the bondage of the Pharaohs, backward to the slavery of the Middle Ages.

The command of the democratic faith has been ever onward and upward. Never have free men been satisfied with the mere maintenance of any status quo, however comfortable or secure it may have seemed at the moment.

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction, that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

That fire of freedom was in the eyes of Washington, and Bolivar, and San Martin, and Artigas, and Juarez, and Bernardo O'Higgins, and all the brave, rugged, ragged men who followed them in the wars of independence.

That fire burns now in the eyes of those who are fighting for freedom in lands across the sea.

On this side of the ocean there is no desire, there will be no effort, on the part of any one race, or people, or nation, to control any other. The only encirclement sought is the encircling bond of good old-fashioned neighborly friendship. So bound together, we are able to withstand any attack from the east or from the west. Together we are able to ward of[ any infiltration of alien political and economic ideas that would destroy our freedom and our democracy.

When we speak of defending this Western Hemisphere, we are speaking not only of the territory of North, Central and South America and the immediately adjacent islands; we include the right to the peaceful use of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. That has been our traditional policy.

It is, for example, a fact that as far back as the year 1798 the United States found that its peaceful trade and commerce with other parts of the Americas were threatened by armed privateers sent to the West Indies by nations then at war in Europe. Because of that threat to peace in this Hemisphere, the United States Ships, Constellation, Constitution, United States, and many others were fitted out; and they drove the armed vessels of Europe out of the waters to the south of us, and made commerce between the Americas once more peaceable and possible.

We of the Americas still consider that this defense of these oceans of the Western Hemisphere against acts of aggression is the first factor in the defense and protection of our own territorial integrity. We reaffirm that policy, lest there be any doubt of our intention to maintain it.

There are some in every single one of the twenty-one American Republics who suggest that the course the Americas are following is slowly drawing one or all of us into war with some nation, or nations, beyond the seas.

The clear facts have been stated over and over again. This country wants no war with any nation. This hemisphere wants no war with any nation. The American Republics are determined to work in unity for peace just as we work in unity to defend ourselves from attack.

For many long years every ounce of energy I have had has been devoted to keeping this nation and the other Republics at peace with the rest of the world. That is what continues uppermost in my mind today—the objective for which I hope and work and pray.

We arm to defend ourselves. The strongest reason for that is that it is the strongest guarantee for peace.

The United States of America is mustering its men and resources, arming not only to defend itself, but, in cooperation with the other American Republics, to help defend the whole hemisphere.

We are building a total defense on land and sea and in the air sufficient to repel total attack from any part of the world. Forewarned by the deliberate attacks of the dictators upon free peoples, the United States, for the first time in its history, has undertaken the mustering of its men in peacetime. Unprecedented dangers have caused the United States to undertake the building of a navy and an air force sufficient to defend all the coasts of the Americas from any combination of hostile powers.

We have asked for, and we have received, the fullest cooperation and assistance from industry and labor. All of us are speeding the preparation of adequate defense.

And we are keeping the nations of this hemisphere fully advised of our defense preparations. We have welcomed the military missions from neighboring republics; and in turn our own military and naval experts have been welcomed by them. We intend to encourage this frank interchange of information and plans.

We shall be all for one and one for all.

This idea of a defense strong enough and wide enough to cover this half of the world had its beginnings when the Government of the United States announced its policy with respect to South and Central America. It was the policy of the good neighbor, the neighbor who knew how to mind his own business, but was always willing to lend a friendly hand to a friendly nation which sought it, the neighbor who was willing to discuss in all friendship the problems which will always arise between neighbors.

From the day on which that policy was announced, the American Republics have consulted with each other; they have peacefully settled their old problems and disputes; they have grown closer and closer to each other; until at last in 1938 at Lima, their unity and friendship were sealed.

There was then adopted a declaration that the New World proposed to maintain collectively the freedom upon which its strength had been built. It was the culmination of the good neighbor policy, the proof of what was said by that famous Argentinian of Italian birth, Alberdi, "The Americas are a great political system: the parts draw life from the whole; and the whole draws life from its parts."

Through the acquisition in recent months of eight naval bases in territories of the British Empire lying within the sphere of the New World, from Newfoundland to Guiana, we have increased the immediate effectiveness of the great navy which we now have and of the greater navy we have under construction. These bases were acquired by the United States; but not for the protection of the United States alone. They were acquired for the protection of the whole Western Hemisphere. The unity of the American Republics was proven to the world, when these naval bases were promptly opened by the United States to the other Republics for cooperative use. In that act was typified the good neighbor conception of hemispheric defense through cooperation by and for all of us.

American radio stations will play their part in the new unity which has been built so solidly between the American nations during the past eight years. They must be effective instruments for the honest exchange and communication of ideas. They must never be used, as stations in some other lands are used, to send out on the self-same day one false story to one country, and a different false story to another.

The core of our defense is the faith we have in the institutions we defend. The Americas will not be scared or threatened into the ways the dictators want us to follow.

No combination of dictator countries of Europe and Asia will halt us in the path we see ahead for ourselves and for democracy.

No combination of dictator countries of Europe and Asia will stop the help we are giving to almost the last free people now fighting to hold them at bay.

Our course is clear. Our decision is made. We will continue to pile up our defense and our armaments. We will continue to help those who resist aggression, and who now hold the aggressors far from our shores. Let no American in any part of the Americas question the possibility of danger from overseas. Why should we accept assurances that we are immune? History records that not long ago those same assurances were given to the people of Holland and Belgium and Norway.

It can no longer be disputed that forces of evil which are bent on conquest of the world will destroy whomever and whenever they can destroy. We have learned the lessons of recent years. We know now that if we seek to appease them by withholding aid from those who stand in their way, we only hasten the day of their attack upon us.

The people of the United States, the people of all the Americas, reject the doctrine of appeasement. They recognize it for what it is—a major weapon of the aggressor nations.

I speak bluntly. I speak the love the American people have for freedom and liberty and decency and humanity.

That is why we arm. Because, I repeat, this nation wants to keep war away from these two continents. Because we, all of us, are determined to do everything possible to maintain peace in this hemisphere. Because great strength of arms is the practical way of fulfilling our hopes for peace and for staying out of this war or any other war. Because we are determined to muster all our strength so that we may remain free.

The men and women of Britain have shown how free people defend what they know to be right. Their heroic defense will be recorded for all time. It will be perpetual proof that democracy, when put to the test, can show the stuff of which it is made.

I well recall during my recent visit to three great capital cities in South America, the vast throng which came to express by their cheers their friendship for the United States. I remember especially that above all the cheers I heard one constant cry again and again- one above all others: "Viva la democracia!"-"Long live democracy!"

Those three stirring words cry out the abiding conviction of people in all the democracies that freedom shall rule in the land.

As I salute the peoples of all the nations in the western world, I echo that greeting from our good neighbors of the Americas: "Viva la democracia!"—"Long live democracy!"

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address on Hemisphere Defense, Dayton, Ohio. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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