Truman's Speach on Sep 5th, 1947

Harry S. Truman speach addressed in Rio de Janeiro before a joint session of the Congress of Brazil


President Dutra, Mr. President of the Congress, Senators and Deputies:

Thank you very, very much. You overwhelm me.

I am deeply grateful for the invitation to appear before the Congress of this great nation whose history is so entwined with that of the United States.

Speaking as one who has come to executive position from legislative hails, I am all the more appreciative of the honor you have extended to me. The legislature of a democratic country is identified with the people themselves. This must be so if responsible self-government is to be accomplished. Brazil is justly proud of a history of government by free men. I salute the Congress of this great Brazilian nation, and I extend my best wishes to the noble people which it represents.

The ties between the United States and Brazil have always been close. It is not too much to describe our relations as those of "lifelong friendship." Your declaration of independence was brief, but just as challenging as ours. The Cry of Independence, uttered on that famous September 7, 1822, told the world that the time had come when Brazil was to be governed by its own people and for their own welfare. I am happy to recall that the United States was the first of the nations of the world to recognize the new independent state. We were not troubled by the fact that it took the form of an empire, for the foundations of the empire were democratic. The Constitution which was adopted 2 years later was the expression of the ideals of free government, not those of an absolute monarchy.

The history of Brazil in many respects parallels that of the United States. Both are nations which have carved civilizations out of the wilderness. Both have been endowed with great natural resources and both have been developed by people whose dominant motive is freedom.

If I am happy that the United States was the first to recognize the new nation of Brazil, I am equally happy that it was to the United States that Brazil turned for support in its struggle for independence. The alliance which Brazil proposed to us was a singular mark of confidence. It was the beginning of our historical friendship which I have described as "lifelong."

The long reign of the great Dom Pedro II put Brazil among the leading democratic nations. Americans of today know him well, for you have engraved his noble features upon a postage stamp which comes to the United States with every mail from Brazil. We recall with pleasure that he was the first monarch to visit the United States, when he came to the exposition at Philadelphia in 1876 which marked the centenary of our independence.

Then in 1889, when Brazil felt that the form of a republic fitted better its national aspirations, the Congress of the United States of America adopted a joint resolution congratulating the country upon its new form of government. It is interesting to note also that Brazil adopted a Constitution modeled closely upon that of the Federal system of the United States.

Why are these ties so close? The distance between our countries is great and until of recent years communications were slow and difficult. But it is not physical proximity alone that makes friends and neighbors. It is rather the fact that we have common interests, common principles, and common ideals.

We look upon the state as the agent of the people for the attainment of the general welfare. We have the same belief in the fundamental rights of man. We have the same respect for the dignity of the individual. We look upon international relations as governed by the same moral standards of conduct by which individuals are governed.

In short, the declarations of September 7th and July 4th demonstrate that we have the same concept of freedom and democracy.

One of your great statesmen, Ruy Barbosa--whose name has left an imperishable memory--once said that the nations of the world constituted a single society and that the principles which formed the basis of stability and justice within each state should be applied equally to nations. He felt that this was the only hope of maintaining civilized relations between them. The idea was not new. It was part of Brazil's inheritance, as it is a 'part of the inheritance of every other Christian nation. But Ruy Barbosa's eloquence has made it a living principle of the foreign policy of Brazil. His declaration that there can be no neutrality between right and wrong will remain forever a part of the moral traditions of your country.

In a recent exchange of correspondence with Pope Pius XII, I said that I desired to do everything in my power to support and to contribute to a concert of all the forces striving for a moral world.1 I believe, in making that statement, I expressed the thought not only of my own country but of Brazil as well.

The United States has been fortunate in having Brazilian friends who have been wise counselors when joint action was called for. The name of Ambassador Joaquim Nabuco --who served in the spirit of your great Foreign Minister, Rio Branco --will always be associated with the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine within its proper limitations. He is but one of a long line of your distinguished countrymen who have contributed so greatly to the understanding that exists between us. Through the years we have learned that because there is agreement between us upon the fundamental principles of justice and equity, we can face our common problems with an assurance of agreement upon the ways and means of solving those problems.

The recent war again gave convincing proof of our friendship. The mutual trust and confidence that exists between us manifested itself at an early date in the immediate response of your Government to our need for air bases and for supplies and strategic materials. And we are here to say to you that we are not people who forget our friends, when those friends are friends in need. When both our countries were attacked, our people fought side by side until victory was attained.

The bravery of your fighting men, against an experienced and resourceful enemy, cemented our comradeship and gave us another reason to feel a deep sense of pride in our friendship.

The memory of those days of struggle and sacrifice together will always be a sacred bond between us.

But today, the problems of peace still lie ahead of us. They are more difficult than we could have anticipated. They will require the closest collaboration between us. But I am confident that we can solve them with mutual good will and forbearance. The one essential is that we maintain our common ideals and our common principles of morality and justice. With these to guide us we can go forward together, and we shall not permit any minor differences to divert us from the pursuit of our common objectives.

We are in a period in which Brazil and the United States must continue to cooperate with their sister nations of the Western Hemisphere in the development of a strong and concerted force for the good of mankind. One of the great lessons we have learned in recent generations is that we do not dwell alone. Destruction, suffering, and confusion in other parts of the world confront us now as never before. Our nations made great sacrifices throughout the war, but we have been spared the wanton destruction and dislocation suffered by many. I am confident that Brazil and the United States will be faithful to a great trust on which depend the lives and liberty of so many millions of disillusioned and discouraged people.

The people of the United States followed with keen interest and high hopes the progress of the Inter-American Conference which has just ended. The splendid result attained brings to us a sense of deep satisfaction. We in this hemisphere have demonstrated to the world that right-thinking men can submerge their individual prejudices and their individual aims in the accomplishment of an agreement that will bring great benefit to the world.

The Conference of Rio de Janeiro will go down in history as a tremendously important milestone in our progress toward the outlawing of force in international relations and the establishment of the rule of law and order.

In some quarters today one hears expressions of disappointment in the accomplishments thus far of the United Nations. This must not deter us in our constant effort to build the organization that the world needs so badly. Furthermore, we must keep ever in mind that the United Nations was not intended to settle the problems arising immediately out of the war, but to provide the means for maintaining international peace after just settlements have been made.

The United Nations was not born fully developed by the signing of its charter at San Francisco. It will take steadfastness of purpose, unremitting toil, and infinite patience to achieve our goal.

The United Nations is not a temporary expedient. It is a permanent partnership-a partnership among the peoples of the world for their common peace and their common well-being.

The difficulties that we have encountered in this early phase in the life of the United Nations have not discouraged us.

On the contrary, they have increased our determination that it shall succeed.

The United States is resolved to support the United Nations with all the resources at our command.

Brazil and the United States have advanced side by side in developing progressive concepts of the democratic way of life. We have proved to ourselves that policies founded firmly on belief in the dignity of man and in his possession of certain inalienable rights inspire us to greater endeavor and lead us to new heights of achievement. I shall leave Brazil with the conviction that here flourishes a people dedicated to the firm ideals upon which my countrymen and I were nurtured.

It is difficult for me to tell you how deeply I appreciate the wonderful reception I have been accorded in your country. Because this Congress consists of the chosen representatives of the people, and because you men, through the operation of the democratic process, are so closely identified with the people, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks, through you, to all the people of Brazil.

As I passed through your beautiful capital city on the day of my arrival, the warm expressions of friendship on the faces of hundreds of thousands of your people deeply moved me and left me with an impression that I shall never forget.

When the time comes for me to depart I shall carry away in my heart strengthened confidence in the enduring friendship of our two countries and in the goodness and generosity of the people of Brazil.


Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. at the Tiradentes Palace. His opening words referred to Eurico Gaspar Dutra, President of Brazil, and Mello Viana, President of the Brazilian Congress.
Citation: John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=12750.