Our Common Mission
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 21 Apr 1955, p. 283-294
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Farley, James A., Speaker
Media Type
Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
The mission of our two countries (Canada and the United States) in today's world. The sharing of a common resource—the electric power of the magnificent spillway of the St. Lawrence River. Two nations that have attained the highest level of foreign relations known to civilization. The United States and Canada far more a product of religion and education than of politics or war. Some remarks on the state of world politics. Making membership in a free community of nations more attractive and more advantageous than servitude in any Communist empire. A beginning in the Philippines and other parts of the Pacific; also in Latin America. Making it clear that freedom and prosperity go together. Freedom in its various forms in different countries. The need to work together. The situation in China and Formosa. Canada as an example of diverse races with different languages living together in peace. Canada and America claiming the privileges and assuming the burdens.
Date of Original
21 Apr 1955
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
"OUR COMMON MISSION"
An Address by JAMES A. FARLEY
Chairman of the Board, The Coca-Cola Export Corporation, and former Postmaster-General of the United States
Thursday, April 21st, 1955
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. James H. Joyce.

MR. JOYCE: We welcome as our speaker today a man who has been prominent in public life in the United States for over a quarter of a century - Mr. James A. Farley of New York City, Chairman of the Board of The CocaCola Export Corporation and a director of the Canadian Coca-Cola Company.

Born 67 years ago at Grassy Point, New York, Mr. Farley started work in 1906, and for 20 years was with the United States Gypsum Company. In 1926 he formed his own firm dealing in mason's materials, which he subsequently merged with five other firms to form the General Builders Supply Corporation of which he was president.

Mr. Farley started his political career 43 years ago by being elected Town Clerk, Stony Point, New York, a post he held for seven years. He was Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission from 1925 to February 28, 1933, when he resigned to accept an appointment as Postmaster-General of the United States in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's cabinet. Mr. Farley resigned as Postmaster-General on August 31, 1940 and was appointed to his present position of Chairman of the Board of The Coca-Cola Export Corporation.

Mr. Farley held an official position in the Democratic Party as early as 1919. He was Chairman of the New York Democratic State Committee from 1930 to 1944 and was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1932 to 1940.

Outside of the business field, he is a director of Boys' Clubs of America, the Andrew Freedman Home of New York City and a Trustee of the Cordell Hull Foundation and the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. Mr. Farley has also been greatly interested in the work of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in the United States.

He will speak to us on "Our Common Mission".

MR. FARLEY: You need not be told that it is a privilege and a distinction to address this famous organization. The roster of its members and of its speakers, and the importance of its activities through the years, make it one of the great clubs of this continent. You are particularly kind in inviting me to discuss the mission of our two countries in today's world. Diplomats and scholars are discussing this subject throughout the United States and Canada alike. I can only contribute the observations of a man whose life has followed the paths of practical politics and still more practical business. Yet it is possible that politicians and businessmen as well as students can make a contribution to this, the chief problem of our time.

I think this is the best possible place to offer such a contribution. Throughout the entire world no two great, independent countries have more nearly achieved civilized international relations than have the United States and Canada. If everywhere in the world relations between peoples and governments were carried on as they are between the people and government of Canada and the people and government of the United States, the world's pressing dangers would be met.

Just before World War Two, the German government circulated a piece of propaganda in Washington, arguing that the Germans had a right to make war on Poland to get back the Danzig corridor. So they printed a map of the Canadian-American boundary. They added to Canada a "v"-shaped wedge, cutting off Maine, New Hampshire and part of Massachusetts from the rest of the United States and giving Canada the Port of Boston. Would this not, the German Government asked, necessarily cause war between the two countries? Well, the propaganda dodge fell flat. There is a Canadian wedge pushing south between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It separates New York and Buffalo from Detroit. We are in that wedge now. Canadian and American trains go across it every night, our common commerce moves by the shortest line without interruption. Another wedge separates Alaska from the rest of America but the Alcan highway crosses it for the mutual pleasure and profit of both of us. Our peoples, and our governments, are far too wise to let either their friendship or their business be interrupted by the border accidents of ancient history.

We share a common resource - the electric power of the magnificent spillway of the St. Lawrence River. We have borne together the costs and the expenses of developing that splendid gift of nature according to a common plan. There are many other illustrations. It is not too much to say that our two nations have attained the highest level of foreign relations known to civilization.

One other factor makes it, I think, not presumptuous for me to claim that we have a common mission. Both our countries are the product of religion and education far more than they are of politics or war. The United States, like Canada, owes its framework chiefly to great Christian movements which have given form to its institutions. Canada, like the United States, owes an enormous debt to its universities and colleges, founded in hope and now grown great. One cannot think of Canada without thinking at once of your own University of Toronto, of Queens, the University of Montreal and McGill, just as one can not think of the United States without thinking also of Harvard, of the University of Notre Dame and of the University of California, and of numberless great and small colleges in between. In both our nations, pioneers built churches and schools. Now in their maturity, both give us the strong red blood which is the life of great democracies.

So we have a common understanding of each other, and from that comes a common mission in world affairs. I for one am not as happy about the state of world affairs as some who today are writing and speaking about them. Our free world is under pressure. In the next few years, it is likely to be tested as never before. In Europe there is, for the moment at least, an alliance which may serve to hold the Communist powers at bay. But in Asia we have not peace but an armistice resulting from the bloody stalemate of the Korean war and a French defeat in Viet Nam. Both in Indonesia and in Indochina, I am afraid we are slowly losing another major area to Moscow's Chinese partner ... Still more disturbing, this spring the Colombo Powers with Communist China as the driving force, are holding a conference of some thirty Asiatic and African nations. The Chinese Communists, of course, paraphrase it as a league of "peace". What they mean to do is to create a pro-Communist alliance of all the nonwhite races against the white races. Their propaganda agents are entirely frank about this. They are frank, too, in insisting that they consider the United States as an enemy. Perhaps you will not disagree if, as an American, I think that an enemy of the United States is necessarily an enemy of Canada just as we consider an enemy of yours an enemy of the United States.

And yet I am sure our two countries will come through the crisis years ahead in quiet, but unquestionable triumph. We shall, I think, make it clear to the world that creative communities of free men make stronger nations and give more to their own people, and to all other peoples, than any other form of organization man has yet devised. We shall not do this by boasting about it, though the boasts are true. We shall not do it by threat to use atomic or other force, though we do have that force. We shall not do it by new and greater scientific discoveries, though it is clear these are already in sight. We shall do it because by successful example at home, and by cool and resolute maintenance of our rights abroad we will inspire whole peoples to follow our course. We will make membership in a free community of nations more attractive and more advantageous than servitude in any Communist empire.

It is not accident that Communism has established no effective bridgehead either in Canada or the United States. The reason is simple: the people of Canada and the people of the United States have already achieved results beyond the wildest promises of Communist dogma. In the light of the achievements of Canadians and Americans, Marxism belongs not in twentieth century politics but in a nineteenth century museum. If, throughout the world, peoples knew that they could live as our peoples do, any Communist empire would promptly begin to contract.

There is evidence that this process is already beginning on Russia's western borders. Hungarians, Poles or Czechs look across the Iron Curtain and wish they were on the side of the free world. The strings in these satellite countries and in East Germany already suggest that Moscow domination there rests now only on besieged and isolated occupation forces; there is no assent of peoples; the promised revolution proved to be only a bloody conquest. To that fact, perhaps, we owe the upsurge of "co-existence" talk which has emanated from Moscow. Now as our two countries, both great trading nations, increase our understanding and wisdom in the ways of foreign commerce, as we find means of assuring that our trade shall benefit other countries as well as ours, we emphasize the clear advantage of the free world system, not by talking but by doing.

This is apparently beginning to be achieved in the West. I am confident it can be achieved in the Far East. The process there will be longer. The task will be larger. Whole populations there have never known freedom; to such people one master is no worse than another; the lot of the coolie is the same in either case. But if a way can be shown by which those masses of coolies can have themselves a stake, however modest, in the miracle of our twentieth century American production, the picture changes. A beginning has been made along these lines in that great archipelago which is today the Philippine Republic. Canadian enterprise has made a beginning in other parts of the Pacific. Our two countries have worked together towards that end in the less favored countries of Latin America. We can, we should, and indeed we must, make it clear that liberty and prosperity go together and that prosperity is not bought at the price of freedom. After all, Russia, struggling desperately to give her own people the most modest standard of living, is not the country which can introduce to Asia the almost limitless production all Canadians and Americans take for granted.

The word "freedom" is used advisedly. In our countries we speak of democracy. Freedom will very likely find different forms in different countries. Here we are devoted to our own democratic form. We will gladly teach it to any who wish to learn from us. But we cannot impose it, and have no business to try. What we can do is to make clear that the chief end of any government is the development of free men in a system by which they work together. Each people has its own wisdom about its own affairs. Probably even the most backward people can teach us something. Their ways are not our ways. But we will be well advised to work with them within the forms which they themselves know and understand.

In thus working for a peace which shall be real and not a double-talk mockery, both of us must increasingly work together and with other nations. Canada was among the first signers of the "Declaration by United Nations" on January 1, 1942, which foreshadowed the United Nations organization of today. Sometimes we falter in using that great organization well; but it remains the frame of our hope of the world to be, a world of peace, under law, guaranteeing freedom from fear to the world.

Combined our two countries constitute in present fact the largest and strongest single regional group in the free world. There are others like it, notably the British family of nations, whether called "Empire" or "Commonwealth" and the Atlantic group we call NATO. In building these as we have, we cannot forget that, at long last, statesmanship must bring them all into harmony. This is not theory.

In Montreal are the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. Because of it a Canadian pilot leaving Toronto knows he will find the same signals, the same language, the same rules for landing or leaving in Paris or Bombay or Manila that he has in his home airport. This is a measure of real, tangible peace. The time must come when the major human necessities are dealt with as is common-sense cooperation as has been worked out in the air.

Our purpose must be to work toward this goal of world peace and world civilization without war. We know, of course, that this is not wholly our choice.

Such information as we have indicates that the Communist Government in China is giving considerable thought to starting a war this year for the purpose of seizing Formosa. The American Government has made it clear that the United States will resist if this happens. In my judgment, the United States Government can do nothing else. Failure to resist an armed attack on Formosa would merely mean Communist conquest there, and within a few months we should have to fight somewhere else. Even in this grim picture there is still a respectable possibility of limiting the war so that it does not become general. Modern war is so horrible and its results so unpredictable that I do not think any sane group can adopt war as a policy as did Hitler in 1939. Yet, in any event, between us we must maintain such strength that no one will dare challenge with force, or assume that counter-force does not exist. No one can guarantee success in the field of foreign relations, but we shall try for peace and keep on trying and I do not despair of success. In this task, as an old politician, let me suggest that the men running foreign affairs-the men in our State Department and your Department of External Affairs-need all the help and support you and I can give them, whether we are of their political faith or not. They are working amid tremendous hazards and their burden is greater than any in recorded history.

Are we starry-eyed in thinking that the task of bringing a reasonable measure of peace to the world may be accomplished in the coming generation? Perhaps, but the example of Canada makes me believe it can be done. Your country was born of diverse races with different languages. History insisted they were sworn enemies, and you refused to accept that decree. You had to build a nation out of different civilizations, customs and religions. Beyond possible expectation, you nobly accomplished that task. In my own time your great Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, a Scot, steadily worked with Canadians of French ancestry, religion and custom. I have no doubt that his brilliant successor, Prime Minister St. Laurent, of French ancestry, no less carefully works with his countrymen of English stock. With patience, tolerance and common-sense you made a union when elsewhere in the world race rivalries, disorder and hatred were the order of the day. In my own, country Irish and English, Italians, Germans, Jews and Negroes have steadily moved towards union so that today Americans, the most composite population in the world, are also the most unified. We have done in North America what has not been achieved in any other part of the world.

In virtue of these achievements, Canada and America can claim the privileges, as they must assume the burdens of a common mission. We must enter upon it without superiority. And, with faith, we can justifiably draw assurance and strength from awareness of solid results already attained. "To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea", wrote Kipling of the English coastwise lights. No less great is the guiding fire of the fellowship of two great nations in a dangerous but splendid time.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John W. Griffin, a Past President of the Club.

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Our Common Mission


The mission of our two countries (Canada and the United States) in today's world. The sharing of a common resource—the electric power of the magnificent spillway of the St. Lawrence River. Two nations that have attained the highest level of foreign relations known to civilization. The United States and Canada far more a product of religion and education than of politics or war. Some remarks on the state of world politics. Making membership in a free community of nations more attractive and more advantageous than servitude in any Communist empire. A beginning in the Philippines and other parts of the Pacific; also in Latin America. Making it clear that freedom and prosperity go together. Freedom in its various forms in different countries. The need to work together. The situation in China and Formosa. Canada as an example of diverse races with different languages living together in peace. Canada and America claiming the privileges and assuming the burdens.