FDR on the Good Neighbor Policy

Address before the special session of the Governing Board of the Pan 

   American Union in celebration of Pan American Day. Washington, D. C., 

   April 12, 1933 

I rejoice in this opportunity to participate in the celebration of "Pan 

American Day" and to extend on behalf of the people of the United States 

a fraternal greeting to our sister American Republics. The celebration 

of "Pan American Day" in this building, dedicated to international good-

will and cooperation, exemplifies a unity of thought and purpose among 

the peoples of this hemisphere. It is a manifestation of the common 

ideal of mutual helpfulness, sympathetic understanding and spiritual 


There is inspiration in the thought that on this day the attention of 

the citizens of the twenty-one Republics of America is focused on the 

common ties-historical, cultural, economic, and social-which bind them 

to one another. Common ideals and a community of interest, together with 

a spirit of cooperation, have led to the realization that the well-being 

of one Nation depends in large measure upon the well-being of its 

neighbors. It is upon these foundations that Pan Americanism has been 


This celebration commemorates a movement based upon the policy of 

fraternal cooperation. In my Inaugural Address I stated that I would 

"dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor-the neighbor 

who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the 

rights of others-the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects 

the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors." Never 

before has the significance of the words "good neighbor" been so 

manifest in international relations. Never have the need and benefit of 

neighborly cooperation in every form of human activity been so evident 

as they are today. 

Friendship among Nations, as among individuals, calls for constructive 

efforts to muster the forces of humanity in order that an atmosphere of 

close understanding and cooperation may be cultivated. It involves 

mutual obligations and responsibilities, for it is only by sympathetic 

respect for the rights of others and a scrupulous fulfillment of the 

corresponding obligations by each member of the community that a true 

fraternity can be maintained. 

The essential qualities of a true Pan Americanism must be the same as 

those which constitute a good neighbor, namely, mutual understanding, 

and, through such understanding, a sympathetic appreciation of the 

other's point of view. It is only in this manner that we 

can hope to build up a system of which confidence, friendship and good-

will are the cornerstones. 

In this spirit the people of every Republic on our continent are coming 

to a deep understanding of the fact that the Monroe Doctrine, of which 

so much has been written and spoken for more than a century was and is 

directed at the maintenance of independence by the peoples of the 

continent. It was aimed and is aimed against the acquisition in any 

manner of the control of additional territory in this hemisphere by any 

non-American power. 

Hand in hand with this Pan American doctrine of continental self-

defense, the peoples of the American Republics understand more clearly, 

with the passing years, that the independence of each Republic must 

recognize the independence of every other Republic. Each one of us must 

grow by an advancement of civilization and social well-being and not by 

the acquisition of territory at the expense of any neighbor. 

In this spirit of mutual understanding and of cooperation on this 

continent you and I cannot fail to be disturbed by any armed strife 

between neighbors. I do not hesitate to say to you, the distinguished 

members of the Governing Board of the Pan American Union, that I regard 

existing conflicts between four of our sister Republics as a backward 


Your Americanism and mine must be a structure built of confidence 

cemented by a sympathy which recognizes only equality and fraternity. It 

finds its source and being in the hearts of men and dwells in the temple 

of the intellect. 

We all of us have peculiar problems, and, to speak frankly, the interest 

of our own citizens must, in each instance, come first. But it is 

equally true that it is of vital importance to every Nation of this 

Continent that the American Governments, individually, take, without 

further delay, such action as may be possible to abolish all unnecessary 

and artificial barriers and restrictions which now hamper the healthy 

flow of trade between the peoples of the American Republics. 

I am glad to deliver this message to you, Gentlemen of the Governing 

Board of the Pan American Union, for I look upon the Union as the 

outward expression of the spiritual unity of the Americas. It is to this 

unity which must be courageous and vital in its element that humanity 

must look for one of the great stabilizing influences in world affairs. 

In closing, may I refer to the ceremony which is to take place a little 

later in the morning at which the Government of Venezuela will present 

to the Pan American Union the bust of a great American leader and 

patriot, Francisco de Miranda. I join with you in this tribute. 


In the First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933, the President said, "In 

the field of world policy, I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of 

the good neighbor.... ". The address of April 12, 1933 was the first 

occasion upon which the peoples of Latin America were addressed directly 

and this policy further developed. 

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