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65
Speech delivered at
Third of May Celebration,
New York, New York,
May, 1, 1946.
We meet to commemorate an heroic episode in the advancement of democracy. No year could be a more appropriate one in which to pay honor
to the patriots of Poland and to the Constitution of May 3, 1791, than
this year, in which democracy has emerged upon the international plane,
ana no place could be more appropriate than this city in which the Council of the United Nations is functioning today. If we trace this modern
development back to its historical foundations, we come upon the honored
names of those who pioneered democracy's path and fought long ago for a
world in which organized debate would supersede destruction, peaceful
majorities would replace armed might, and government would be animated by
the spirit of human rights. We come to one of the oldest of all public
systems of education, established by Konarski in Poland before our own
American Revolution; we come to the Constitution, settling free the
serfs, liberating and enfranchising the people of the towns, and establishing a Parliamentary form of government that was planned by Kollontay
and Malachowski and Ignacy Potocki in the Polish Diet, endorsed by King
Stanislaus Augustus for the good of his nation, and fought for on the
field of battle by the inspired armies of Poniatowski and Kosciuszko.
One hundred and fifty-five years after those great events we stand here
to bear witness that the flame those men set alight in the darkest moment of their national history still is the hope of peace-loving peoples
today.
Details change with times, the task remains the same. Only a few
months ago in San Francisco the delegates of two score nations drew up a
Charter with this determination: "to save succeeding generations from the
scourge of war . . . to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights . . .
to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and
social advancement of all peoples." Similarly those heroes of old,confronted by aggression without and weakness within, declared themselves
as 11 prizing more than life, and every personal consideration, the political existence, external independence, and internal liberty of the nation whose care is entrusted to us." Similarly had like-minded men in
America declared that "All men are created equal," and formulated a Constitution to "promote the general welfare," with the safeguard of that
Bill of Rights which we jointly celebrate today.
Those early fighters for democracy made sacrifices commensurate
with the vision for which they strove. We can complete their victory in
our own time. This, it seems to me, is the central thought of this occasion. Perhaps, as we follow the progress of the British-American financial agreement, as v e see developed at Savannah the international finan/
cial structures that were set up at Bretton Woods and will be completed
at the meetings of the executive directors of the International MonetaryFund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development which
are to take place in Washington three or four days from now, and as we
follow the first debates in the Security Council of the United Nations
and anticipate the coming conference on international trad^, our modern
task may seem colder and more technical than theirs. Perh'aps this or
that decision may go against us; majorities imply minorities, and perfect

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agreement is difficult to reach. But the underlying method, that of democratic organization as the answer to tyranny and war, must be supported
and approved, and if we can but derive our strength from the spirit oi
freedom, as did those men of old, we know we shall not fail.
An immediate and urgent task confronts us. The people of Poland and
of all war-torn Europe are starving as we stand here. We in America enjoy relative abundance. May each shipload of food that leaves our shores
carry not bread alone, but the unspoken message that democracy brings
abundance and that a democratic nation now shares its abundance with
other lands in the spirit of humanity, of peace, and of gratitude for
their great contributions in the past to the democracy that we enjoy today.