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                                PAPER VI

"Can we, the Republics of the New World, help the Old World to avert the 
catastrophe which impends?"

Address before the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of 
   Peace, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 1936 

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 well deserved 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 

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stagger for long years not only under the burden of poverty but also 
amid the threat of broken society and the destruction of constitutional 

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 
to 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 arm our own 

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 governments can and will insist on their 
intention to live in peace. Thus will democratic 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 

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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, contented 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 self-sufficient 
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 to believe 
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 peace. 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 

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 

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only few in number but already on the way to peaceful adjudication. 
While the settlement of such controversies may necessarily involve 
adjustments at home or in our relations with our neighbors which may 
appear to involve material sacrifice, let no man or woman 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 

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 man 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. 

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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 systems, 
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.