Statement [15] by the Secretary of State (Hull) at the Seventh International Conference of American States, Montevideo, December 15, 1933


I arise to say hat the Delegation of the United States of America is in the heartiest accord with the very timely and vitally important resolution offered by the able Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, Dr. Saavedra Lamas. The beneficial benefits of this proposal on peace will be far-reaching. Their stimulating influence will extend beyond this hemisphere and to the uttermost parts of the earth. They will bring cheer and hope to the struggling and discouraged forces of peace everywhere.

May I express what is in the mind of every delegate, that our grateful appreciation of this outstanding service of Dr. Saavedra Lamas will most appropriately climax a series of splendid services to he cause of peace which he has rendered. Let me also thank the heads of each delegation with whom I have conferred during past days for their prompt and most valuable cooperation in support of this proposal.

The passage of this resolution and the agreement to attach from 12 to 20 signatures of governments to the five peace pacts or agencies thus far unsigned by them is not a mere mechanical operation. The real significance is the deep and solemn spirit of peace which pervades the minds and hearts of every delegate here and moves each to undertake a wise and effective step to promote conditions of peace at this critical stage. The adoption of this resolution and the agreement to sign these five splendid peace instruments will thoroughly strengthen the peace agencies of the 21 American states and make peace permanently secure in this hemisphere. This wholesale affixing of signatures to five treaties through conference action within itself thoroughly vindicates the policy of international conference. [16]

I desire most heartily to second the motion to report this resolution favorably. I desire also to say that the United States is ready to affix its signature to the Argentine anti-war pact, and I venture at the same time to express the earnest hope that representatives of all other governments present will aid in a great service to peace by signifying at this time their willingness to affix on behalf of their governments their signatures on any of these five treaties which they have not yet signed.

Universal peace has been the chief aim of civilization. Nations fail or succeed according to their failure or success in this supreme undertaking. I profoundly believe that the American nations during the coming years will write a chapter of achievement in the advancement of peace that will stand out in world history.

It is in these inspiring circumstances that I and my associates have come to the Conference here in Montevideo. We come too for the reason that the people and the Government of the United States feel the keenest interest in this Conference and have the strongest desire to contribute to its success. We come because we share in common the things that are vital to the entire material, moral, and spiritual welfare of the people of this hemisphere and because the satisfactory development of civilization itself in this Western World depends on cooperative efforts by all the Americas. No other common aspiration could so closely draw peoples together. We can have no other objective than these. Our common hopes and responsibilities, chaperoned by common sense and initiative, beckon to all of us. We sense a yearning here for a spirit of fine cooperative endeavor. We know too that in this great region the future possibilities of which no man dare calculate the world is being given another chance to right itself. By pooling all our resources in an unselfish spirit we shall undertake to meet the test of service to ourselves and to humanity and make the most of the spacious opportunities that lie ahead. We know when we survey our assets that we have the foundations in this part of the world laid for the greatest civilization of all the past-a civilization built upon the highest moral, intellectual, and spiritual ideals.

Indeed, while older nations totter under the burden of outworn ideas, cling to the decayed and cruel institution of war, and use precious resources to feed cannon rather than hungry mouths, we stand ready to carry on in the spirit of that application of the Golden Rule by which we mean the true good will of the true good neighbor.

It is really a very old and universal though sometimes neglected rule of conduct, this revitalized policy. It is, however, the real basis of that political liberty for which your own great heroes fought and which is our greatest common heritage. It is high time for the world to take new heed of it and to restore its ancient and potent meaning.

I am gratified to say that I have already found much of this spirit among the distinguished leaders with whom I have talked here in Montevideo. They all keenly realize the crisis that has been thrust upon the New World. The Old World looks hopefully in this direction, and we must not disappoint that hope. Today Europe staggers under the load of bristling armaments paid for out of treasuries depleted by the clogging of trade channels. Our common ties with them redouble our desire to offer our best in the molding of a new world order. We have the opportunity and the duty to carry on. We have a belt of sanity on this part of the globe. We are as one as to the objective we seek. We agree that it is a forward-looking enterprise which brings us here, and we must make it a forward-moving enterprise.

Peace and economic rehabilitation must be our objective. The avoidance of war must be our supreme purpose. Most gratifying is the practical appeal which your leaders are making to bring about an end to the bloody conflict between two of our sister republics, the one small and remaining exception to our hopes and ideals for enduring peace in this hemisphere. This is a blot on our civilization which we must erase. I grant with all my heart that with the end of that conflict war as an instrument for settling international disputes will have lost its last foothold in this hemisphere.

In its own forward-looking policy the administration at Washington has pledged itself, as I have said, to the policy of the good neighbor. As President Roosevelt has defined the good neighbor, he "resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others". We must think, we must speak, we must act this part.

I am safe in the statement that each of the American nations whole-heartedly supports this doctrine-that every nation alike earnestly favors the absolute independence, the unimpaired sovereignty, the perfect equality, and the political integrity of each nation, large or small, as they similarly oppose aggression in every sense of the word.

May I for a moment direct attention to the significance of this broad policy as my country is steadily carrying it into effect under the Roosevelt administration, the extent and nature of which should be familiar to each of the nations here represented. My Government is doing its utmost, with due regard to commitments made in the past, to end with all possible speed engagements which have been set up by previous circumstances. There are some engagements which can be removed more speedily than others. In some instances disentanglement from obligations of another era can only be brought about through the exercise of some patience. The United States is determined that its new policy of the New Deal-of enlightened liberalism-shall have full effect and shall be recognized in its fullest import by its neighbors. The people of my country strongly feel that the so-called right of conquest must forever be banished from this hemisphere, and most of all they shun and reject that so-called right for themselves. The New Deal indeed would be an empty boast if it did not mean that.

Let us in the broad spirit of this revitalized policy make this the beginning of a great new era, of a great renaissance in American cooperative effort to promote our entire material, moral, and spiritual affairs and to erect an edifice of peace that will forever endure. Let each American nation vie with the other in the practice of the policy of the good neighbor. Let suspicion, misunderstanding, and prejudice be banished from every mind and genuine friendship for and trust in each other and a singleness of purpose to promote the welfare of all be substituted. Let each nation welcome the closest scrutiny by the others of the spirit and manner in which it carries out the policy of the good neighbor. Let actions rather than mere words be the acid test of the conduct and motives of each nation. Let each country demonstrate by its every act and practice the sincerity of its purposes and the unselfishness of its relationships as a neighbor.
It is in this spirit that the Government and the people of the; United States express their recognition of the common interests and common aspirations of the American nations and join with them in a renewed spirit of broad cooperation for the promotion of liberty under law of peace, of justice, and of righteousness.

[15] In seconding Dr. Saavedra Lamas' proposal that all nations represented at he Conference give their adherence to the existing peace conventions since the Gondra treaty, signed in 1923.

[16] The five treaties and conventions referred to by Mr. Hull in the above statement are the following:
Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact (Pact of Paris), signed in Paris in 1928.
Argentine Anti-War Pact, signed at Rio de Janeiro, October 10, 1933.
Treaty To Avoid or Prevent Conflicts Between American States (Gondra treaty), signed at the Fifth Pan American Conference, Santiago, Chile, in 1923.
General Treaty of Inter-American Conciliation, signed at Washington, January 5, 1929.
General Treaty of Inter-American Arbitration, signed at Washington, January 5, 1929.

Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 196-98.

Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Interwar Period Page