WE Americans of North and South America have accepted with our heritage of geographic unity a certain common destiny which should find a threefold fulfillment on our continent in an adequate standard of living, perfect democracy, and ample liberty.
We whom Providence has favored by giving us an immense territory for our home had first to take possession of this mighty land. Our second task was to secure from the wilderness which we had tamed that social well-being promised by democracies to their citizens. Our present duty is to create a culture worthy of our racial [ethnic] inheritances and our geographic endowment.
We have enough land so that no one need be envious of his neighbor, a republican sobriety to which vicious luxury is repugnant, a unanimous religious and lay sentiment that considers fair dealing the only lasting basis for world relations, and scenic beauty such that peace appears the natural state for the Americas.
Throughout our 105 degrees of latitude, the earth seems to be more ready, more eager, and quicker than elsewhere to fulfill its mission of bestowing happiness on mankind. Perhaps because American earth has been less exhausted by a long succession of generations, or because it is more richly blessed with the generative elements of heat and moisture and less burdened with population, it lends itself more readily than other lands to the men who, moved by the ideal of justice, strive for the equitable distribution of wealth and for a civilization woven in a shining pattern of good will on the warp and weft of the social virtues.
Heirs of the Old World and of at least two native cultures, we are endeavoring to outstrip both Europe and our indigenous empires in the perfection of a democracy which shall express the broadest possible concept of human liberty. Our very situation, between Europe and Asia, obliges us to comprehend conflicting viewpoints; even our coastline, looking both to the east and to the west like that of Greece, gives us the mission of welcoming different races with understanding.
We must realize that the fact that two cultures differ outwardly does not imply that one is necessarily inferior to the other, and that the expression which human groups give to the same idea is sometimes simple and touching, sometimes nobly beautiful. We should begin on this very continent, with a loyal interpretation of North by South America, or South by North America; our first duty is to our nearest neighbor. A better understanding of the rest of the world will come later and be as natural for us as following a well-known path down which habit leads us.
Latin culture has found in the nations of South America a realm vaster than the classic Mediterranean Basin for the government of men according to its own high standard, while all cultures are trying to achieve in Anglo-Saxon America, so far without misadventure, the ideal of universal brotherhood in a single land. And until today no attempt to realize this goal had met with success anywhere in the world.
Our heroes of North and South America, Washington and Bolívar, Lincoln and San Martín, might all have been fashioned in a single hour, in the same mold; they were laborers in a common task. Our constitutions, the fruit of their insight, were inspired by equal vision, and have the family resemblance of plants nurtured in the same soil.
Anglo-Saxon America, sprung wholly from Europe, has succeeded, more or less easily, in its task of amalgamating in new surroundings the great cultures of Europe. Latin America has effected, and is still effecting, with greater difficulty and therefore with more suffering, the fusion of European and Indian, two races of distinct physical endowments and even more distinct emotional temperaments; the triumph over such obstacles is more significant than anything hitherto accomplished by man.
North Americans and South Americans, together we shall give a new key, a new rhythm, a new democratic interpretation to European culture, European institutions, and European customs, art, education, and science, blending them all into a harmony of greater beauty and greater sweetness.
We have summoned people from the four corners of the earth with an utter lack of prejudice and with the hospitality of our far-flung shores, creating on our continent races in whose features may be traced their heritage from all the world — races capable of enlarging the older, classic view of life, and capable, too, of living the epic of the future.
In American stock and American ideals, both formed in an environment of vast spaces and little hampered by tradition, unprejudiced observers have noted a splendid assurance in the face of our high enterprise, and a happy confidence in the future. We believe that war will seem to the next generations of America like an illustration in a musty tome, an ancient order belonging to times forever gone, thanks to the wisdom of our lawgivers and our educators. The effect of war in America would be to devastate our entire continent, despoiling its natural beauty and depraving the collective conscience so that we should once more have to lay the foundation and laboriously reconstruct the edifice of society. The memory of the building of America is too recent for us to be willing thus to jeopardize the work of our forebears.
We Americans of North and South America have been nurtured on twenty-one constitutions, all of which proclaim respect for the independence of others as a basic principle of self-respect. Our republics were brought to life by Washington and Bolívar under the auspicious star of the rights of nations. From kindergarten through college we have been indoctrinated with a firm belief in the gospel of our national laws. Americans all, we affirm to the heroes from whom we are sprung our determination to hold the independence of all our homelands as sacred as our own. We renew our pledge that, in the intercourse between these twenty-one nations, we shall repudiate violence as treachery to the principles of eternal right, and challenge injustice as a blot on that glorious honor by which we now and shall forever live.
Note: Canada was not at the time a member of the Pan American Union (after 1948 the Organization of American States), which is why Mistral's America here spans only 105 degrees of latitude, since the audience of her pledge was limited to the member nations that observed Pan American Day.
This anonymous translation was originally published in April 1931 in the Bulletin of the Pan American Union, and subsequently revised by Jonathan Cohen.