- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 16 Nov 1944, p. 112-132
- Chevalier, Colonel Willard, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A glimpse into what American business men are thinking and talking about, together with a quick glimpse of how they are preparing to face the future. Some remarks about the political campaign just ended in the United States. Postwar planning. The discussion proceeds under the following headings: War Production; The Transition Period; War Surplus Disposal; Postwar Taxation; Employment for Veterans; Service Trades and Professions; Opportunity For All; Needs Nor Surpluses; Joint Efforts; Historical Examples; Forward to the Task.
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- 16 Nov 1944
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AS THE ALLIES FACE THE FUTURE
AN ADDRESS BY COLONEL WILLARD CHEVALIER
Chairman: The President: Mr. C. R. Conquergood
Thursday, November 16, 1944
MR. C. R. CONQUERGOOD: In the United States, there is a very active organization initially known as the C.E.D. C.E.D. stands for Committee for Economic Development. It is an independent, non-political, non-profit corporation organized by American business men, and dedicated to a single objective-to stimulate and assist American business to make its greatest possible contribution to sustained high levels of post-war employment and production.
Among the public spirited business men, who have given leadership to this organization, which now has well over two thousand local or branch committees, is our guest speaker today, Colonel Willard Chevalier, Vice-President of the McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., of New York City. Our guest graduated from the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1910 with the degree of Civil Engineer. As an Engineer, he worked on the New York subways and the New York State Barge Canal and other projects both on design and construction.
From May, 1917, to May, 1919, he served progressively as Captain, Major and Lieutenant-Colonel with the 11th United States Field Engineers Corps on field service in France. During more than half of this time, he was brigaded with the B.E.F.
Early in 1922, he entered the publishing field as Associate Editor of Engineering News-Record. Later, he became its publisher. In 1926, he launched a new venture in the publishing field, a pictorial construction review Construction Methods. In 1934, he was elected Vice-President and Director of the Company with which he is now associated and assumed charge of their mining as well as the construction publications. He also writes a column each week for another of the Company's well-known journals Business Week of which he is now publisher.
I am pleased to present Colonel Willard Chevalier, who will now address us on the topic "As the Allies Face the Future."
COLONEL WILLARD CHEVALIER: During the last six weeks I have traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back again. I have been close to the Mexican border on the south, and now I have crossed a line that marks the border of the United States and the Dominion of Canada.
I am quite sure that that line is important to the map makers, and to those who must administer the affairs of government. I know too that the plain people of our two countries, who for so long have proved that independent nations can be good neighbors and who have been drawn even closer by their common efforts in this war, have found that line to be no barrier as they have labored and fought to make their joint efforts productive of victory.
Because Canada has been in the war longer than the United States, and because we both cling steadfastly and loyally to our distinctive national views and sentiments, our approaches to many of our common problems have not been and cannot be identical. And I suspect that there are just as many planes of cleavage between various groups of you Canadians as there are amongst my own people. So it has occured to me that I might best serve you today by offering you a brief report on what American business men are thinking and talking about, together with a quick glimpse of how we are preparing to face the future.
Until last week, of course, one of the principal subjects of conversation on our side of the line was politics. Every four years, war or no war, we have to suffer a national political campaign. The campaign just ended was the second in history to be conducted while our nation was at war. But if you followed the newspapers and magazines, you have discovered that the candidates and their supporters did not permit our outside fight to dampen our traditional enthusiasm for our family squabbles. Now I know there are some people in the world who cannot understand that-and who never will. But I am confident that you can and do understand it. And you don't get that understanding just from watching us either.
The campaign proved pretty well, I think, that it still is possible to give full scope to our free-swinging political oratory without seriously interfering with our paramount job of turning out the men and materials of victory. It proves also, at least to me, that no ordinary human being who aspires to public office can possibly be as smart as he claims to be and that none can be quite as stupid as his opponent tries to make him out.
But all that now is behind us. The people of the United States are back on the beam, concentrating on their wartime tasks and devoting more of their attention to the problem that lies ahead.
No business man, with whom I have talked on our side, is inclined to belittle the problems of transition from war to peace, and the necessity for a long-range program that will insure peace with an expanding economy for a long time to come. Within a population as large as ours, it is quite possible to find a few who feel that the problems ahead are too difficult for us to solve. But I am sure you will find they are a minority. The majority is convinced that defeatism would simply breed more and graver troubles for us, that it would serve merely to delay the solutions we must achieve if we are to make progress either in war or in peace.
During the last couple of years we have developed what amounts to almost a new major industry. I refer to the activity popularly known as "postwar planning".
To some amongst us, who are happily fewer from month to month, this new concern appears to be a menace to the conduct of the war and therefore not to be encouraged. But the great majority of our people are convinced that it is an essential part of our war effort, although they recognise that it must, for the time being, take second place to the immediate and urgent demands of the fighting fronts.
Anxious though our business men may be to revert to civilian production, and anxious though our civilian population may be to obtain more goods and new goods and better goods, the vast majority of them understand that if these aspirations are permitted to interfere with our war production we shall but postpone the day of final victory and thereby add to the toll of sorrow that is the heritage of war.
I think that we in the United States and Canada may well be proud of our war efforts. In 1939 Canada had no munitions industry at all. And the United States was producing only two per cent of the world's output. Four years later Canada had risen to fourth place among the United Nations in the manufacture of war materials, and the United States was turning out approximately one-half of all the munitions for the Allied cause.
But proud as we are of what we have accomplished, we are constantly reminded that war planning and production cannot remain static, either on the battle front or on the industrial front.
Mr. J. A. Krug, new chairman of our War Production Board, said in a recent review that no great increase in overall production is anticipated for the final stages of the war. But, he added, specific needs change as we enter new theaters and as we modify our tactics to take full advantage of the lessons we learn in the field.
But through all these changes and adaptations, manpower continues as one of our major problems. The greatest needs for labor now are in the production of castings and forgings, of heavy duty tires, of lumber, and of cotton duck. Because of delays in the manufacture of tires and forgings, some of our heavy truck and field artillery schedules have not been met, and only recently was the War Production Board able to announce that we had caught up with the demand for bombs.
But even as we begin to meet the schedule for bombs, the demand for rocket-propelled ammunition has jumped enormously, and the manufacture of rocket fuel has become a big industry. While we have reached and even exceeded our overall goal for aircraft production, the need for primary and basic trainers is diminishing and the call for four-engine bombers is increasing. Here again we have an illustration of the fact that overall and average figures never show a true picture of this constantly changing war economy.
Manpower undoubtedly will continue to be a major problem in war production for another reason. As we come nearer to V-Day in each of the several theaters of war, rumor stirs up talk that certain plants are likely to be shut down. As a result the average worker begins to seek a job that is likely to be more permanent. Already some areas of our country that attracted large numbers of war workers over the last two years are beginning to observe the migration of those workers from their war plants into more promising fields.
THE TRANSITION PERIOD
Business men agree generally that there will be some unemployment during the transition period. They also agree that even one day of involuntary unemployment, that can be traced to lack of adequate planning, is a tragedy we must do our best to avoid.
Their approach to this problem was the organization of the Committee for Economic Development, now a little more than two years old. In some respects it is similar to your own National Industrial Federation. Surveys have been made on a community and regional basis and individual employers are being urged by committees, set up in their own communities, to lay down now their own plans for postwar development.
Everyone who has taken a hand in planning for postwar has learned that the two most important items in such plans must be the word "however" and the phrase "on the other hand". Nevertheless, every effort is being made to avoid the attitude reported by a business analyst who asked a client what he would do if the war were to end tomorrow. The business man hesitated, and then replied: "I probably would do what I should have done a couple of months ago."
The full value of these months of study and analysis cannot be known in the immediate future, but even organized labor, suspicious at first of any business man's organization, now has come to realize that this effort to provide productive jobs for some 55 million workers in the United States is earnest and sincere, and that it offers the only logical and practical approach to date.
There has been talk, of course, that if private industry does not provide postwar jobs the government will. But objective analysis of that statement brings convincing proof that there hasn't been enough planning so far to provide jobs in public works for all who may need jobs after the war. And that is without regard to the long-term wisdom of attempting such a solution of the postwar reemployment problem.
We had some experience during the depression with a plan for making jobs in that fashion. We called it the W.P.A. The best that a worker could hope for under that plan was a bare subsistence living. The test for employment under that system was not whether a man was qualified to do a job, but whether he had no other means of support.
But aside from its dubious social value, the accomplishments of the W.P.A. were meager because of the lack of planning. The program added greatly to the national debt and created few productive facilities that would help to carry or reduce that debt in later years. Our business men are determined that this shall not happen again. And they know that the one way to avoid it is for private business to prepare now plans that will create productive jobs--jobs that will help to raise our standard of living, not to tear it down.
WAR SURPLUS DISPOSAL
Employment will be one of the major problems in the transition period but many others are allied with it. Industry, for instance, cannot plan effectively unless it knows just what disposition is to be made of the billions of dollars worth of war factories that have been built with government funds.
Retailers and wholesalers cannot complete their plans until they know how the billions of dollars worth of surplus goods that will be released with victory are to be distributed.
The United States government has about 15 1/2 billion dollars invested in war plants, many of them huge layouts that are outside the reach of the small business man. But our Department of Justice must check each proposed sale to determine whether transfer of a plant to a big corporation would tend to create a monopoly.
It has been almost a year since you in Canada created the War Assets Corporation, to handle the disposal of your government's property at the end of the war. Our Congress wrangled over the problem most of the summer and, despite some eloquent pleas for placing responsibility in the hands of a single administrator, Congress eventually voted for a three-man War Property Administration Board.
The President did not see fit to name the members of the new board during the political campaign. The result has been a delay in undertaking the studies that must be made before the Board can even outline the principles to be used in dealing with this huge federal investment. Congress has ruled that no property costing more than 5 million dollars can be sold until 30 days after a report has been filed with Congress by the Board; and that will mean additional delay.
In war, everyone recognizes that time is the one essential commodity. Money costs are--secondary when the fighting men need supplies. In peace there may be a tendency to reverse the order, in the hope of salvaging a large part of the government's dollar investment. But if the postwar transition is to be effected with the least loss of employment and civilian production, we may have to rate time as highly in this matter of surplus disposal as we do in our war production.
More and more business men are learning the difference between surplus and scrap. But the military men hesitate to write off any item as scrap so long as the war is on, while industry, anxious to complete its planning and to put postwar programs into effect promptly, is pressing for decisions.
Most leaders in Washington now agree that much of the 100 or more billion dollars worth of war goods that will be on the surplus list at the end of the war, never will have any value on the civilian market. Many articles will be worth less than the cost of disassembling them into merchantable units.
This problem seems to boil down to one of education because those officials who personally are willing to label most of such surplus goods as "junk" hesitate to do so for fear the public will not understand. And because another election day always is just around the corner, the public's attitude carries a lot of weight with those who must shoulder the responsibility.
Even if business and government, working together, are able to solve the problems of contract termination and surplus disposal, more and more of our people are coming to believe that there must be a new approach to federal taxation if we are to have a prosperous nation during the years to come.
In the course of a political campaign we hear constant reference to the need for lower taxes but, as a matter of fact, most of our business men ask not so much for tax reduction as for tax reform.
So far, our government has no officially defined post-war taxation program. But several organizations and numerous analysts have studied the problem. They know that the incidence of taxes will play an important part in their efforts to plan for maximum use of our record productive capacity, and for maximum employment of our people.
The Committee for Economic Development, Research Division, completed a study of postwar taxation. Its plan sets up three broad objectives:
1. Taxes must impose the least possible restriction on the expansion of production and employment, with particular emphasis against discouraging the launching of new enterprises, and the expansion of existing business. 2. Taxes should be fair, falling equally on persons in like circumstances and designed to cut as little as possible into the buying power of the consumer. 3. Taxes must be adequate to raise a revenue sufficient to meet those federal expenditures which are truly advantageous to the general welfare, to maintain justifiable confidence in the soundness of the dollar, and to underwrite the safety of the federal debt as an investment.
We cannot take time here to discuss the program in detail. Suffice it to note that after the war the interest on our federal debt alone will exceed the total federal revenues during the years immediately before the war. So it becomes evident that we cannot possibly hope for low taxes, when measured against prewar standards.
The economists and tax experts, who made the Committee for Economic Development study, believe that more and more reliance should be placed on the personal income tax. So they propose a graduated tax, ranging from a basic 16 to 20 percent, compared to the present minimum of 23 per cent, up to a maximum of 74 per cent, compared with the present top of 94 per cent.
The plan calls for elimination of all excise and sales taxes, except on alcohol and tobacco, and perhaps gasoline. It urges abolition of the present double taxation on corporate income. To effect this, it proposes to apply the personal income tax rate to corporation profits; then by exempting dividends from personal taxes it makes the corporation tax, in effect, a withholding tax, just as taxes now are withheld from wages and salaries. The plan would remove serious inequities in the present tax system, would eliminate loopholes in estate and gift tax laws and provide for the eventual abolition of the tax-exempt bond, which now serves as a refuge for some capital that can be more useful as investment in new enterprise.
I must make it clear that this is not an official program. It is a goal that has been set up after months of study by some of our best economic and business minds. The whole plan is based on a national income of about 140 billion dollars a year, which would mean that jobs should be provided for about 55 million persons. Once that goal were reached, it would provide sufficient revenue to begin reduction of the national debt, which now stands at more than 200 billion dollars.
EMPLOYMENT FOR VETERANS.
When our first peacetime draft was ordered a little more than four years ago, the law provided that those who were called to service should have their jobs back after the emergency.
Many of the big corporations have worked out programs for putting veterans back into their plants, even if they no longer are capable of handling the jobs they held when they left.
But there are only about 2,500 businesses in the United States that employ more than 1,000 persons. And there are two million employers who hire less than 100 workers each. These two million provide approximately one-half of the jobs for the nation. So any approach to postwar employment for veterans must depend on the wholehearted cooperation of those employers whom we classify as small business men.
Many small concerns have closed their doors since we started arming for this war. Others have undergone changes in production methods and in markets so that the old jobs simply do not exist. So the returning veteran presents not one problem, but at least three
1. Placing him on his old job, 2. Vocational guidance, training and rehabilitation and 3. Creating new jobs.
We have the Veterans Administration, the United States Employment Service and the Federal Civil Service Commission as national agencies that will give the veteran assistance on his return to civilian life. In addition, there are countless community organizations and official agencies at the state and municipal level.
Some labor leaders foresee difficulties because of the conflict between the seniority rights provided in their contracts with employers, and the guarantee of a job to the veteran. Obviously, the most satisfactory way to avoid conflict between the man who has remained on the home front job and the man who is returning from the battle front is to see to it that there are jobs enough for all.
If all the service men were to be released at once, and all the war factories were to close at the same time, the scramble for jobs would bring conflict and confusion. But there is every indication now that the retooling of industry for peacetime production will be a continuing process over a period of months. Moreover, it now seems probable that several months, at least, will elapse between the defeat of Germany, with a proportionate cutback in war production, and the final victory over Japan, which will bring a general halt to war orders.
SERVICE TRADES AND PROFESSIONS
Furthermore, we must remember that we shall not find the answer to the employment problem in industry alone. Thousands of our people and of yours, never have held, and never will seek jobs in factories.
Despite the great increase in our industrial productive capacity, during the 60 years from 1870 to 1930, the number of workers employed in manufacturing in the United States increased only from 22 percent to about 31 percent of the total employment. In the same period, the increase in the service trades and professions was from 25 percent to more than 47 percent, or nearly half of the total employment in the country.
So there are millions who do not seek factory jobs or supervisory duties in industry. These people should find places fairly promptly and surveys indicate that a substantial percentage of the men now in the armed forces do not want the same kind of job they had before they took the uniform.
Many went directly from school and never really held jobs before. Many will need additional schooling before they will be fitted for the work they hope to do. So the War Department is establishing an overseas education service for troops awaiting discharge. Many of the returned veterans will be eligible for free tuition plus expense allowances up to $92 a month for a year of special college training before they are put out on their own.
Many of the veterans expect to go into business for themselves, so the government is making provision in the form of guaranteed loans, through regular commercial banking channels, for those who will need funds to start small businesses, or to buy farms.
OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL
I have given you some of the specific examples of our approach to particular problems. I am not insisting that they are the best possible answers even for us, and naturally I would not even suggest that they would fit your conditions.
Because Canada has been in the war longer than we have, I know that in many instances you are more advanced in postwar planning than we are. But I believe the ultimate goal--to maintain a country rich in opportunity for the individual--is the same on both sides of the international line.
I discover, in Canada as in the United States, differences of opinion as to how we should go about achieving that goal. I know that it often is difficult to differentiate between political and humanitarian arguments when we start talking about security and opportunity. But I think it is high time to stop all talk of opportunity versus security, when they are not, in fact, antagonistic.
I cannot travel about the United States or Canada as I do and bring myself to believe that opportunities no longer exist. It is true that many of our great natural resources appear to be amply developed, but perhaps such appearances are deceptive.
Let me quote to you from a United States government report during depression days
"Industry has been enormously developed, cities have been transformed, distances covered, and new sets of economic tools have been given in profusion . . . .What is strictly necessary has been done, often times to superfluity. There will be no room for marked extension, such as has been witnessed during the last 50 years, or to afford remunerative employment of the vast amount of capital which has been created during that period. The days of large profits are probably past. There may be room for further intensive, but not extensive, development of industry in the present area of civilization."
That sounds pretty discouraging, doesn't it? But before you take it too much to heart, let me tell you that that statement was made in 1886-58 years ago--by Hon. Carroll D. Wright, our first United States Commissioner of Labor.
It merely goes to show that it is human to be mistaken, and that we are likely to be mistaken if we sell our respective countries short.
This argument that there are no more; opportunities is not a new one. Every time something goes wrong with our economic machine, some one tells us that the trouble is that we have grown as much as we ever can hope to. They say that from now on we can only plan to spread our present work and production to insure for everyone a fair share.
But there is another approach, it seems to me, to this program of giving to each a fair share. And that is to maintain, as far as is humanly possible, equality of opportunity for all. It may well be that we can plan opportunity with less effort and with more success than we can plan security without opportunity.
American business men--and by American I mean to include the whole area from the Rio Grande River to the North Pole--are convinced, I believe, that if opportunity is kept open, the problem of security will solve itself.
If we hold open the door of opportunity to every individual to go as far and as fast as he can, in free and fair competition with every other individual, there will always be some one who will do a better job, produce a better article, or render a superior service. And that is what leads to the creation of new jobs, more money in the pay envelopes, and a greater demand for the things we are capable of producing-rather than restrictions on what we are allowed to produce.
We can have an expanding economy only if we place more goods and services at the disposal of the people. Only a nation constantly expanding its productivity can hope to raise the living standards of its people.
But a nation that appears to have reached its last frontier, so far as lands and natural resources are concerned, need not be discouraged any more than the people of this continent were discouraged almost 60 years ago when a government official asserted, with full confidence that he knew what he was talking about, that there would be no room for expansion such as had been witnessed in the previous 50 years.
As we draw down our natural resources, new frontiers always can be created by science and technology. Indeed, it is resourceful technology that enables us to make more effective use of dwindling natural resources and to substitute new materials to replace those that may be depleted. The constant application of new invention may mean, on occasion, some technological unemployment, but for every job that was lost when the wagon and carriage trade disappeared at least six new jobs were created in the automobile industry. And who can say that the airplane industry--or some industry as yet unborn--may not bring as marked a change in our way of life during the next quarter or half century.
We should know by now that no group of our people can unduly burden or restrict any other group without, in the long run, doing injury to every one. If, for example, labor uses its newly developed political power to restrict the introduction and full use of technological advances, in order to save the jobs of a small segment of the working population, it thereby throttles the opportunity to create many more new jobs. And if capital, seeking to protect an investment in plant or tools that have been made obsolete by science, refuses to write itself off, we cannot enjoy the expanding economy that our technical progress makes possible.
NEEDS NOT SURPLUSES
If this war has taught us any one lesson, it is that no nation can be truly self-sufficient. Trade, domestic and foreign, must be the foundation for prosperity, in either a national or a world economy that is based on a high degree of specialization.
Some nations need foreign trade more than others. But I think we shall never truly approach a solution of the problem until we start thinking in terms of needs, rather than of getting rid of surpluses. Great Britain did not establish herself as a great trading nation because of her surpluses. It was because her people made things that other countries wanted. Men have not braved the seas to bring spices from the East Indies because there was a surplus of spices there, but because we and other nations wanted them.
We in the United States quickly learned, when we began to prepare for war, that we lacked mica, tin, chrome, tungsten, nickel, rubber, diamonds and many other raw materials required by our industry. We are dependent on other nations for coffee, tea, cocoa and a considerable portion of our wool and sugar.
When the war is over there will be surplus productive capacity both in the United States and Canada, but only in a few fields of endeavor, and even there only if we fail to seek out other peoples who can use the things we are capable of making and growing.
I had some letters recently from a couple of men who are engaged in the export business. They were not talking about surpluses glutting the postwar market. They were wondering how they, and other exporters, would be able to meet the huge demands of a war-torn world.
Bernard M. Baruch and John M. Hancock, who have served our nation as advisers in two wars, recently reported on their study of the postwar problem. They were not pessimistic. They wrote
"It is our conviction that we will emerge from the war with the greatest opportunities any people ever had. A postwar depression is not inevitable. One half of the world will need rebuilding. Enormous demands, put aside during the war and added to pre-war demands, await satisfaction. Much depends on the settlement of the peace. If it be one under which men and women can look forward with hope--not fear--there will not be enough hands to do what needs to be clone."
We have demonstrated in war that we can lay aside intense nationalism to achieve efficiency in fighting a worldwide war. We have yet to demonstrate that we can achieve the same unity of purpose and the same efficiency in fighting for world-wide prosperity. But the opportunity will be there. Recently the Combined Production and Resources Board, on which both Canada and the United States have representatives, called attention to its work in providing a clearing house for international economic statistics. It professed to see, in its present activities "the beginnings of a better understanding of our common problems in peace, as well as in war."
Canada and the United States have a special interest in the spread of this better understanding. As I have said; we learned long ago how to be neighbors and how to carry on trade for the benefit of both countries.
For 20 years before the war, more than 60 per cent of Canada's imports came from the United States and we, in turn, purchased approximately 40 per cent of your exports. For every four dollars of United States money invested in Canada there is one dollar of Canadian money invested in the United States. And I think it is significant that, while Canada glories in her loyalty to the British Crown and Commonwealth your monetary system is based on the dollar, rather than the pound.
We may be proud of the contributions our two nations have made to the war effort but I think we can be most proud of our joint efforts. Even before the United States entered the war, some 9,000 of our citizens had joined your Royal Canadian Air Force. Many of them declined an opportunity to transfer to the United States Army after we became involved. They felt at home where they were--and they were at home.
On the production front, a good example of what I mean by joint effort is found in the recent announcement that Canada was making tires from synthetic rubber produced in the United States. But this synthetic output would not have been possible had it not been for the production of some, of the chemicals in Canadian plants.
The International Civil Aviation Conference had hardly opened in Chicago before the delegates from more than 50 nations were shown the interdependence of Canada and the United States in any world-wide postwar aviation program.
That Canada found herself acting as conciliator between the divergent views of the United States and the British delegates to the conference is not surprising to any one who stops to consider the close ties of the Dominion with the Mother Country and the neighborliness that prevails on the North American continent.
The Canadian approach to the aviation authority problem, as I understand it, is to get started on a provisional basis and work for the development of a permanent regulatory authority after the transition period. That, I believe, offers a general pattern for dealing with most of the matters that the nations of the world must discuss.
Aviation, monetary practices, shipping, food distribution, foreign trade--these are just a few of the many problems that confront us as we prepare to make our postwar world a peaceful world. And in nearly every instance we probably shall find that provisional agreements and arrangements must pave the way for eventual settlement.
Our success in handling these provisional programs will go far toward determining whether we ever shall achieve our ultimate objective of creating a security organization capable of maintaining the peace over a long period of years.
In the United States we still have isolationists who think that we can dig in behind the security of our frontiers and let the rest of the world go hang. We have also universalists, who think that the United States should take a strong hand in everything that happens, whether it be in the Balkans, in Palestine, Russia, China, or even Canada. But these are extremes, and I am happy to report that the extremists are not in a majority.
I cannot speak for the United States as a whole, or for the business men of the United States, but the majority, I believe, are now convinced that, at this stage of human development, there are advantages in both nationalism and internationalism. And they know, too, that each has its price.
It is, above all, the hope of most business men that we shall never become so impressed by our new status on the international scene that our nation will become an international busybody, attempting to impose our political and economic philosophies on other nations. And it is their hope also that other nations will show a similar restraint with respect to our own national peculiarities.
The proposals of Dumbarton Oaks, as you have seen, represent, at this time, only starting points for discussion. I am inclined to agree with your Prime Minister, who avoided direct approval or condemnation, but asked, instead, for "careful and earnest study."
And as the nations of the world--large and small--do study, and discuss proposals for preserving peace, it is my prayer that they can always look to Canada and the United States for inspiration, whenever the skies are dark with distrust and the horizon may be obscured by the fogs of despair. May the political leaders of all nations find here in Canada and the United States the proof that two nations can live together in peace, not just for a few years but for more than a century.
Let them look not just to the present, but to the past. There have been many opportunities for conflict between our two countries if we had desired it. A little less than a century ago we had, in our country, a political slogan "54-40 or fight," as we sought to settle the Pacific boundary question. It was a popular slogan. But we did not extend our boundary to 54-40--and we did not fight. We compromised on the 49th parallel and I doubt that anyone on either side of the border is less happy today as a result of that compromise.
Our ability to be peaceful neighbors is not the fruit of one session, or a series of sessions around the conference table, but of more than a century of arbitration, of conciliation, of compromise-of understanding, and most of all, of faith in the honesty and good intentions of each other.
After six weeks of secret sessions at Dumbarton Oaks it was announced that the United States, Great Britain and Soviet Russia had reached only 90 per cent agreement. Those who are discouraged by that should read the history of the United States.
Our Constitutional Convention lasted four months. Little Rhode Island almost broke up the party with its insistence on the protection of the rights of the small states. The New York delegates actually withdrew for a time. When the work was completed, George Washington wrote to a friend
"I wish the Constitution had been more perfect, but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time. And, as the constitutional door is opened for amendment hereafter, the adoption of it, under the present circumstances of the Union, is in my opinion desirable." There have been 21 amendments to the Constitution since it was adopted. The Bill of Rights, the section of which we in the United States are most proud because of its guarantees of free speech and freedom of worship, came in the form of amendments. In other words, the 13 colonies that combined to form the first United States of America found it advisable not to demand perfection in the first draft, but to get started with the best that could be obtained at the time and to provide for amendment to meet new conditions and changes of attitude on the part of the people.
Those who are discouraged over our inability to reach a satisfactory conclusion on world peace in one session might well look to Canadian history and learn that here, too, Nova Scotia signed with great reluctance and that the Fathers of your Confederation were unable to convince Prince Edward Island that it was advisable to join in 1867.
Both our nations have, from humble beginnings, spread so that now they extend from coast to coast. Thomas Jefferson, our third president and one, of the most brilliant men of his time, wrote that it probably would take 200 years for civilization to reach the Mississippi river and another 200 to 300 years for it to reach the Pacific Coast.
The degrees of civilization of which he wrote reached the Pacific ocean within 50 years. Under his time-table, based on the best available information of his day, civilization should be reaching the Mississippi about the year 2000 and the Pacific Coast in 2200 or 2300.
We have demonstrated on this continent that we can beat Europe's time-table for the establishment of permanent peaceful relations between nations. Let us hold up our accomplishment to the rest of the world-and to those in our own nations who cannot foresee peace in our time- and ask
"Is it not possible for you to join with us in a new effort to reach our destination ahead of schedule?"
FORWARD TO THE TASK
The idea of representative democratic government--of making government the servant, rather than the master, of the people--did not originate in the United States or in Canada. It originated in the minds of men who would be free, regardless of when or where they lived.
The Revolution of 1776, that brought complete separation of our nation from England, was but one phase. Canada was equally discontented with the colonial system and reforms were effected that averted the necessity of complete separation from the Mother Country. But our goal was the same, even though the routes were different.
On both sides of the international boundary we have sought to have free men control their destinies. We may not say that we have succeeded to the utmost. We have not achieved perfection. But we may be proud that we are not standing still-that we are forging ahead. Much remains to be done. May the Providence, that has sustained us in all that we already have achieved, now endow the people of both our countries with the vision, the courage, and the faith to carry on with our uncompleted task.