Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address to Pan American Union.

April 14, 1938

My friends of Pan America:

There could be no more fitting occasion than the present for me to greet my friends of the twenty other American Republics. We have learned in this Western Hemisphere what community of interest really means. We have worked for it, created it, and now we glory in it. Properly, therefore, Pan American Day is set aside as an annual testimony to the significance which the American family of nations has for the whole world.

Never was that significance greater than today. The twenty-one American Republics present proudly to the rest of the world a demonstration that the rule of justice and law can be substituted for the rule of force; that resort to war as an instrument of policy is not necessary; that international differences of all kinds can be solved through peaceful negotiation; that the sanctity of the pledged word faithfully observed and generously interpreted offers a system of security with freedom. The three hundred millions of people who live in the American Republics are not different from other human beings. We have the · same problems, the same differences, even the same material, for controversy which exists on other continents. Yet, we have undertaken contractual obligations to solve these normal human differences by maintaining peace; and that peace we are firmly resolved to maintain. It shall not be endangered by controversies within our own family; and we will not permit it to be endangered from aggression coming from outside of our own hemisphere.

This, a common objective of all of us, forms a lasting foundation for the maintenance of an international understanding that is unique in the history of civilization.

The American peoples, who today fortunately live as good neighbors, not only enjoy a privilege, but undertake a heavy responsibility. Fortunate in being remote from the tumult of conflicting doctrines and from the horrors of armed conflict-from the tragedies whose shadows lie heavy on the world, the American Republics, nevertheless, face a serious test. If our good fortune is to continue, our will must be strong.

All of us, in every Republic, gained our independence because our fathers were willing to sacrifice their lives and all that they possessed for a great ideal. Some part of that duty to sacrifice rests also on us, their children. We have progressed far along the path that leads to government by the people in the interest of all the people. Our democratic system has conferred on all of us an inestimable gift of individual liberty within the law. We are vitally concerned with preserving the high standards of international restraint, international culture and international morality, which the lesson of centuries has taught is the first requirement of peaceful relationships between nations.

Now, more than ever before, we of this American Hemisphere must make plain that these principles, upon which so great a civilization is founded, are vibrant, productive and dynamic. National and international law and morality are not the restraints of weaklings; they are signs of serene strength—confidence in our purpose, and in our ability to maintain independence and democracy.

Particularly I am glad that in December of this present year representatives of all of our governments will once more assemble. This time it will be in the great capital of Peru. During these turbulent years the Inter-American Conferences have come to be an instrument for bringing ever closer the relationships between our several nations. In Lima we have a renewed opportunity to counsel together. I assure you that we in the United States have found peculiarly welcome the views, the opinions and the friendly advice of the statesmen of our sister republics. Public opinion in all of our countries benefits from learning with greater frequency and in greater extent the thoughts, the desires and the needs of the peoples of the other American nations.

In constant testimony of our mutual friendship and trust is the increasing progress in communications. The North, Central and South American voices which reach us through the air are the voices of friends. Only a short time ago the people of the United States were enabled to hear a gracious message broadcast to them by my friend, the President of Argentina, and a few days later they listened to the address delivered to them by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, whom we here had been privileged to have in Washington as Brazil's Ambassador during the past three years. His significant words were applauded in every American home.

Our ideal is democratic liberty. Our instrument is honor and friendship. Our method is increased understanding. Our basis is confidence. So and not otherwise, in common effort we safeguard in this new world the great rights of our liberties and build our civilization for the advancement of humanity throughout the world.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address to Pan American Union. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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