Franklin D. Roosevelt

Exchange of Telegrams on Cooperation in Foreign Policies.

December 21, 1937

My dear Governor Landon:

The generous spirit of your telegram helps me to meet the problems which confront our country in the field of foreign relations during these troublous times.

The pledge which you gave at the Gridiron Dinner a year ago carried force because of the patriotic motive which prompted it. The renewal of that pledge not only strengthens the hand of government but gives all of our citizens a good example.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of our countrymen, regardless of politics, race, creed or color, from the days of Washington to this hour have desired to pursue the even tenor of their way at peace with all nations and all peoples.

But throughout our long history we Americans have rejected every suggestion that ultimate security can be assured by closing our eyes to the fact that whether we like it or not we are a part of a large world of other nations and peoples.

As such we owe some measure of cooperation and even leadership in maintaining standards of conduct helpful to the ultimate goal of general peace.

Honorable Alf M. Landon, Topeka, Kansas

Topeka, Kan.,

Dec. 20, 1937.

The President.

Dear Mr. President:

A year ago at the Gridiron Dinner, in the spirit of the old American tradition that politics cease at the water's edge, I pledged you cooperation and support in the difficult foreign situation confronting your administration.

That is a grand principle, and we must evidence our good faith in it. It means there must be no demagogic playing of politics at the expense of the country's unity in dangerous situations such as now confront us.

Therefore I want to renew my pledge, especially in view of the fact that so many members of Congress, of both parties, seem to have forgotten this basic principle of American politics and by their actions help create the impression on foreign nations that they do not trust your administration of foreign affairs. They would hamstring your conduct of an extremely delicate foreign situation.

These members are pursuing the same dangerous course followed by those members of the British Parliament who early in 1914 gave the impression that England either would not or could not fight under any circumstances.

I congratulate you on your firm "No" to the proposed legislation that would take away the power of Congress to declare war. You and I both know the American people want peace, but they want a peace that will enable us to maintain the respect of the other nations of the world.


Franklin D. Roosevelt, Exchange of Telegrams on Cooperation in Foreign Policies. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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