The Secretary of State to the Delegates of the United States of America to the Fourth International Conference of American States.

Sirs: The President said in his last annual message to the Congress:

On the 9th of July next there will open at Buenos Aires the Fourth Pan-American Conference. This conference will have a special meaning to the hearts of all Americans, because around its date are clustered the anniversaries of the independence of so many of the American Republics. It is not necessary for me to remind the Congress of the political, social, and commercial importance of these gatherings. * * * It is my purpose to appoint a distinguished and representative delegation, qualified fittingly to represent this country and to deal with the problems of intercontinental interest which will there be discussed.

Among the foreign relations of the United States as they fall into categories, the Pan-American policy takes first place in our diplomacy. In quoting what the President has said, I can not too strongly impress upon you your Government’s appreciation of the importance of the occasion or its sense of the responsibility of the service which you have undertaken in accepting appointment to represent this American Government and people at a great gathering of the countries of half a world.

I desired you to report at the department at this time in order that you might have two weeks for study and consultation with the officials of the department in preparation for your work at the conference. That work will, of course, be confined to the program and to such relevant matters as may properly come up, under the rules of the conference, for discussion, and has nothing to do with other subjects of diplomatic discussion, which are in the exclusive charge of the diplomatic service. Nevertheless, there is hardly a phase of the conference more important than its opportunity for the representatives of one Republic to come into intellectual and sympathetic contact with those of the others.

Through such contact of men typical of the best feeling and thought of all the Republics, the American peoples gradually grow to know one another, and by the sure process of mutual understanding and appreciation are built solid international friendships founded in justice, respect, good will, and tolerance. Hence, it is of paramount importance that this delegation truly reflect the sentiments and ideas of the Government of the United States in its Pan-American diplomacy. I therefore desire you, while at the department, to give your studious attention not only to your actual prospective work at the conference, but also to the task of becoming imbued with the spirit which animates the American policy of the United States, so that the [Page 15] tone of your whole attitude and action shall be in harmony with that policy.

To this end the delegation should, so far as possible, have some general understanding of the conditions in each country and some appreciation of the signal achievements of each nation in ideals, in government, in science, and in material advancement.

The American peoples differ in race and language, and in literary and aesthetic inheritances. They have a common ground in their republican form of government, their love of liberty, in the acquisition of their independence and the history of their progress, and in their emerging through civil strife and their peopling and developing of huge and wild lands into orderly modern States. They are bound together also by a community of interest, and by the ties of mutual helpfulness, both moral and material, and of a common destiny.

For reasons indicated above I shall embody in these instructions, merely as suggestive, some comment upon recent American relations. But first I shall undertake some discussion of the program of the conference.

The Third International American Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1906, adopted the following resolution:

The governing board of the International Bureau of American Republics is authorized to designate the place at which the Fourth International Conference shall meet, which meeting shall be within the next five years; to provide for the drafting of the program and regulations, and to take into consideration all other necessary details.

The governing board of the Bureau of American Republics, exercising the authority thus conferred upon it, fixed Buenos Aires as the place, and July 9, 1910, as the date of the conference, and adopted a program of subjects for consideration. The respective Governments, by indicating their intention to take part and by naming delegates, approved this action of their diplomatic representatives in Washington. It is unlikely that the conference will undertake to enlarge the program, since it was framed after most careful consideration, and the subjects omitted include such as in the judgment of the members of the governing board would tend to excite useless controversy, thus endangering the success of the present conference and militating against that of future ones.

For example, the governing board did not appear to think it advisable that discussion should be renewed as to whether a voluntary conference for general purposes ought to assert competence to impose upon any State the arbitral settlement of one or another particular dispute of long standing, such as there still exist, happily, only very few among the American Republics. Such arbitrations are the logical result of the occasional failure of direct negotiations, but The Hague conventions and the various bilateral arbitration treaties seem to express the most advanced position yet taken by the nations in cases where they do not spontaneously resort to arbitration simply as the sensible and enlightened alternative to force. Hence, evidently, the governing board’s omission of arbitration from the program. Should occasion arise you would oppose propositions looking to the assertion of such competence on the part of the conference.

The same considerations apply to any formal demand by the conference for conventions of general compulsory arbitration, or even [Page 16] any declarations as to the proper methods of enforcing acceptance of boundary awards, since these might at this juncture be regarded by some States as efforts to put them at an unfair disadvantage in the adjustment of pending disputes.

In your informal conversations with the delegates from other countries you will maintain such an attitude as will give rise to no suspicion of partiality or of a desire to use the present conference to affect concrete cases.

As is well known, this Government now as always earnestly advocates the general principle of pacific settlement of international disputes, and it believes that this is also the policy of all the countries participating in this conference, but this conference would not seem an opportune occasion for offering or entertaining definite propositions on the subject.

This Government’s general views as to the proper purposes of Pan-American conferences remain as set forth in the instructions to the United States delegates to the third conference, wherein they were thus expressed:

The true function of such a conference is to deal with matters of common interest which are not really subjects of controversy, but upon which comparison of views and friendly discussion may smooth away differences of detail, develop substantial agreement, and lead to cooperation along common lines for the attainment of objects which all really desire.

I. The organization of the conference.

This is the first subject on the program for the conference’s consideration. The delegation of the United States should avoid being placed in a position of undue prominence in the selection of officers and committees. The system adopted by the third conference of having the more important committees composed of one representative from each Republic gave good results, facilitated the prompt dispatch of business, and avoided discussion of controversial matters in the plenary sessions. You will advocate its continuance, and in general the adoption of the rules that regulated the Rio de Janeiro conference, as recommended with slight modifications by the governing board. There appears little doubt that these regulations, like the program, will be adopted, and as a practical method you should now anticipate this action and proceed to subdivide the probable work, each delegate specializing to some extent in order to qualify himself for useful service as a member of one or another committee.

II. Commemoration of the Argentine national centenary and of the independence of the American Republics as suggested by the fact that many of those nations celebrate their national centenaries in 1910 and neighboring years.

This Government takes the most lively interest in the appropriate commemoration of the Argentine national centenary and of the independence of the other American Republics whose national centenaries occur in 1910 and the following years. The suggestions and plans of the Republics primarily interested should receive most sympathetic support and you will cooperate with your colleagues from those countries in the measures that may be proposed by them.

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III.—Submission and consideration of the reports of each delegation as to the action of their respective Governments upon the resolutions and conventions of the third conference held at Bio de Janeiro in July, 1906, including a report upon the results accomplished by the Pan American committees and the consideration of the extension of their functions.

The Governments of many of the countries participating in the conference have failed to ratify the four conventions recommended by the Rio conference. It is also possible that some ratifications have been made which have not been communicated or exchanged. You will endeavor discreetly to ascertain from your colleagues whether these failures to ratify have been due to real objections to the form or substances of the conventions, or only to difficulties and delays in procuring legislative approval. This information should be procured promptly on your arrival, and it may afford you a basis for urging and aiding the securing, through the various members of the conference, of action by the Governments that have not yet ratified them.

You will also advocate the adoption of a system of deposit of ratifications which will tend to facilitate their prompt exchange and enable the conventions to be proclaimed as well as a mode of adherence in case of nonsignatory governments.

Several countries have not yet named the Pan American committees recommended by the Rio conference. You will urge your colleagues to use their influence with their respective Governments to establish such committees and advocate the enlargement of the functions of the Pan American committees to include cooperation with their Governments in the preparation of any reports called for by the Pan American Conferences and in the preparation of plans for future conferences, such as schemes for greater uniformity in census and other statistical schedules, for the more ready comparison of educational, industrial, financial, economic, and social conditions.

IV. Submission and consideration of the report of the Director of the International Bureau of the American Republics, together with consideration of the present organization and of recommendations for the possible extension and improvement of its efficiency.

Not a few of the resolutions of the last conference failed of any important results because of the paucity of the ratifications, because of the failure of the various Pan American committees to contribute information, because of the inability of the Pan American bureau to complete some huge task of collecting information, or from other cause.

With reference to this item on the program, you should study the origin and status of the International Union of American Republics and the bureau which is its office. The institution has grown in a somewhat haphazard manner, and it now seems high time that its organization, status, and working should be clearly determined by convention between the Governments which are its component parts. Its permanency should thus be provided for, and among various matters to be elucidated and brought in conformity with the growth of the institution is the need of a system of auditing of accounts on behalf of the Governments constituting the union.

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It is understood that the representative of the bureau will report to the conference upon all these matters.

The delegation of the United States will cooperate, through its member of the appropriate committee, in the preparation of a satisfactory convention and will favor its adoption by the conference.

V. Resolution expressing appreciation to Mr. Andrew Carnegie of Ms generous gift for the construction of the new building of the American Republics in Washington.

The drafting of a resolution expressing to Mr. Andrew Carnegie appreciation of his generous gift for the construction of the new building of the American Republics in Washington will presumably be intrusted to the representatives of some of the Latin-American Republics.

VI. Report on the progress which has been made on the Pan American Railway since the Rio conference, and consideration of the possibility of cooperative action among the American Republics to secure the completion of the system.

Very considerable progress has been made since the last conference in the projection, survey, and construction of railroads which will ultimately form part of the Pan American Railway. The rapid economic progress of many of the regions traversed, an increasing realization of the importance of neighborly commercial relations, and the recently aroused interest among the capitalists of this country in the opportunities for investment offered in Latin America are all factors which make the present a particularly appropriate time for the conference to add a further vigorous impulse toward the ultimate realization of the project.

VII. Consideration of the conditions under which the establishment of more rapid mail, passenger, and express steamship service between the American Republics can be secured.

The improvement of mail and steamship facilities between the American Republics, and especially between the United States and the Latin-American Republics, is of the greatest import as affecting our present and future commercial relations with those countries. You will manifest the interest this Government feels in the subject and discuss the proposals of your colleagues. Various projects of law have been proposed or are now pending before the United States Congress, but uncertainty as to what will be done in regard thereto renders it inadvisable at the present time for you to present any definite proposals to the consideration of the conference.

VIII. Consideration of measures which will lead to uniformity among the American Republics in consular documents and the technical requirements of customs regulations, and also in census and commercial statistics.

The task of assembling the vast amount of detailed information which would be requisite to an exhaustive comparison of all the regulations, of the different 21 Republics, which the third conference [Page 19] delegated to the International Bureau of American Republics, not unnaturally proved impossible. In the view of this Government it would be more practicable again to present generally the project elaborated in connection with the first conference, and seek by such means to make progress toward the elimination of vexatious hindrances to trade.

In order to bring about the greatest freedom of commercial intercourse between the American Republics, it would seem highly desirable to take steps to remove such objectionable consular and customs regulations as may be found to interfere with the efforts of the citizens of each Republic to carry on business relations with the citizens of the others. A brief examination shows that the regulations of the American Republics are widely different in character and must lead to confusion on the part of exporters and importers who must comply with them. Some of the regulations are so unduly exacting that exporters from the United States have been known to abandon the trade with a particular country rather than undergo the annoyance and delay necessary to meet the consular and customs requirements. It would seem, therefore, that one of the most important reforms to which the fourth Pan American conference could address itself would be the adoption of uniform regulations and fees for the ordinary consular and customs acts and documents.

Nowhere is the lack of uniformity in the consular regulations of the American Republics better illustrated than in the fees prescribed for the consular certificates of invoices. It is recommended that each Republic be asked to join in a convention or in an agreement for executive action to fix a uniform fee of $2.50 gold for the certificates of each invoice, including as many as four copies; provided, however, that for invoices the value of which does not exceed $100 the fee shall be 50 cents. This is in substantial accord with the agreement of the First International American Conference.

Another object which might be accomplished to facilitate trade between the Republics would be an agreement by convention or otherwise upon a uniform invoice for all shipments from one Republic to another and a uniform method of consular certification. The recommendation of the First International American Conference, if adopted with slight modifications, would afford a very satisfactory solution of this question by causing to be prescribed an invoice which should be made out in duplicate, triplicate, or quadruplicate, in the language of the country of import and in the currency actually paid for the merchandise, which should also declare the contents and value of each package, state the quantities and values of the merchandise in figures and not in words, and be in other respects similar to the form now in use by the United States, which has been found to be highly satisfactory.

In the interest of uniformity of statistics, as well as of the convenience of exporters, it would seem important that the consular certification of invoices should take place at the point where the merchandise is situated at the time of purchase, or, in other words, at the point from which it begins its journey to its ultimate destination; provided, however, that where articles purchased in various places are forwarded to one point to be packed for shipment abroad the invoice may be certified by the consul at the place where such assembling and packing is done.

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It would also be desirable to have a uniform rule that if by reason of delay in the mails, or for other satisfactory causes, an invoice certified by a consul could not be produced, entry be allowed on a statement in the form of an invoice upon the execution of a bond for the subsequent production of an invoice duly certified by the appropriate consul.

There is a great lack of uniformity among the regulations of the American Republics in respect to the certification of manifests of vessels and cargo, some Republics requiring certification and charging liberal fees therefor, and other Republics requiring no certification. For the convenience of exporters and masters of vessels, and with a view to the simplification of the regulations under which commerce may be carried on, it would seem desirable that uniform regulations and uniform fees be adopted in respect to manifests or that a regulation requiring no certification of manifests be agreed upon. The United States does not require consular certification of manifests.

Inasmuch as nearly every country requires imported merchandise to be accompanied by an invoice certified by a consul of that country stationed in the country of exportation of the merchandise, there would seem to be no strong reason for requiring consuls, in addition, to certify bills of lading covering such shipments; and an agreement to abolish the requirements for the consular certification of bills of lading, with the fees therefor, would seem to be another step that might properly be taken in the direction of removing obstacles in the way of perfect freedom of commercial intercourse.

American merchants seeking to carry on business relations with some of the other American Republics have been put to much annoyance and expense by the enforcement of regulations imposing fines or penalties on account of technical and clerical errors in invoices. If an agreement could be reached, as recommended by the First International American Conference, to the effect that technical defects in the form of any document which has been duly authenticated before the consul of any of the countries should not in that country be deemed sufficient cause for the imposition of fines or penalties and that all other manifest clerical errors may be corrected after entry at the customhouse of the country without prejudice to the consignee or owner, commercial relations between the American Republics would be greatly facilitated. It is probable that this change could be made by executive action on the part of the several Republics.

Hardly less important is the gathering and publishing of commercial statistics and making them, so far as possible, uniform. Present variances are so great, and commercial data are so interwoven with the varying tariff systems and trade customs of the 21 Republics, that progress must necessarily be slow. You will give careful attention to the memorandum on the subject prepared by Mr. Jacobson, expert of the Department of Commerce and Labor, and, so far as opportune, favor the taking of practical steps in the line of his recommendations.

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IX. Consideration of the recommendations of the Pan American sanitary congresses in regard to sanitary police and quarantine and of such additional recommendations as may tend to the elimination of preventable diseases.

You will endeavor to procure from the conference a recommendation that the conclusions of the Mexican and Costa Rican sanitary conferences be adopted by the respective countries.

The recommendations on this subject contained in the instructions to the delegates to the third conference are reaffirmed for your guidance.

The progress made in sewering and sanitation of the ports of the various Republics has been most admirable, and it may well be expected that in the not distant future the few remaining unsanitary ports will be likewise improved. The difficulties appear to be mainly financial, the necessary expenditures in many cases exceeding current municipal revenues. But it would seem to be an opportunity for foreign capital on a large scale to contribute to most excellent enterprises, and no doubt is felt that it can be interested.

X. Consideration of a practicable arrangement between the American Republics covering patents, trade-marks, and copyrights.

The advance in commercial morality of modern times is in no way better illustrated than in the feeling among all enlightened nations that the author and inventor should be protected in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labor, and the American Republics have frequently shown themselves fully alive to the duty of protecting, within their jurisdiction, rights in literary, artistic, and industrial property which have been, after due examination, established in other jurisdictions.

The subject of the protection of patents, trade-marks, and copyrights was discussed at Montevideo, at Washington, at Mexico, and at Rio de Janeiro. The Third Pan American Conference adopted conventions which conserved in their entirety the conventions framed by the conference at the City of Mexico consolidating them into one convention and making certain other provisions, such as that for the establishment of international bureaus at Havana and Rio de Janeiro.

The Rio de-Janeiro convention was signed by the delegates of the United States, but its careful analysis by the Patent Office revealed such serious defects that it was deemed inadvisable that it should be even laid before the Senate with a view to ratification.

In the first place, the engrafting of new provisions upon a combination of the two Mexican conventions made it unduly complicated. It imposed the obligation to recognize foreign patents even if such had been granted without any examination. It imposed an obligation, both useless and impossible, under which a government issuing a great number of patents would have had to send full data to the other signatory governments. It would have been in conflict with the most advanced systems, and notably would have been inconsistent with the Paris convention of 1883, the merits of which have been recognized by previous Pan American conferences.

It will be one of your important duties to seek the adoption of suitable conventions to regularize the mutual protection of these [Page 22] classes of property among the American Republics. Having in view the extreme technicality of these subjects, the President has appointed Mr. Edward B. Moore, Commissioner of Patents, as expert attaché to the delegation. Mr. Moore has prepared drafts of three conventions covering, respectively, patents, trade-marks, and copyrights, and their provisions appear to this Government admirably responsive to the needs of the situation. In your advocacy of the conventions you will be guided entirely by the advice of the Commissioner of Patents, and in their discussion you should point out that they are entirely in harmony with the international convention adopted at Paris in 1883, emphasizing the fact that their adoption will greatly improve the position of the Republics concerned in the discussions at the meeting of the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property, which is to be held in Washington in May, 1911, and to which all the American Republics have been invited.

XI. Consideration of the continuance of the treaties on pecuniary claims after their expiration.

Inasmuch as The Hague general arbitration treaties which were adhered to by most American Republics in 1907 do not satisfactorily cover the subject, you will for your part urge the continuance of the treaties on pecuniary claims after their expiration, and if any of the other countries of the conference should have special reasons for desiring to discontinue the Rio treaties you will seek to ascertain the reason for such action. This Government hopes that those countries which have thus far failed to ratify them may conclude to do so.

XII. Consideration of a plan to promote the interchange of professors and students among the universities and academies of the American Republics.

An interchange of professors and students among the universities and academies of the American Republics will undoubtedly promote mutual intellectual and social understanding and sympathy, and you will give your hearty support to any practical plan tending to this end which may be devised.

XIII. Resolution in appreciation of the Pan-American Scientific Congress held in Santiago, Chile, December, 1908.

You may support a resolution expressing appreciation of the valuable labors of the Pan-American Scientific Congress of Santiago. The delegates to that congress were active and efficient and it would seem appropriate that they should receive a justly deserved recognition at the hands of this conference.

XIV. Resolution instructing the governing “board of the International Bureau of the American Republics to consider and recommend the manner in which the American Republics may see fit to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.

It seems very fitting that some such resolution should be passed whereby the governing board would recommend the manner in which the other American Republics might join with the United States [Page 23] by participation in the celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal.

The great benefits of easier intercourse and more convenient commerce the canal is expected to bestow upon all the Republics will doubtless engender great interest in such celebration.

XV. Future conferences.

Strong reasons have been advanced against holding the Pan American conferences at short intervals. Fear has been expressed that the failure of important tangible results in the form of actual conventions ratified and put into operation might create an impression of futility. Bearing in mind the extreme difficulty of agreement by 21 Republics, and feeling also that these conferences have a meaning and a moral effect outweighing their material results, the Government of the United States can hardly share this fear. However, the distances are great and the delegates have to be chosen from the ranks of busy men, and altogether I am persuaded that intervals of six years as a minimum would probably afford an appropriate frequency, unless in this particular case it should be deemed expedient that the next conference should synchronize with the celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal.

After a year, during which the relations of a number of the Republics have been at times under considerable strain, so many differences seem now either settled or well on the way toward settlement that one may perhaps say without unjustifiable -optimism that the time appears especially auspicious for the success of the Fourth Pan American Conference.

So far as the United States is concerned, I am very happy to assure you of the conviction of this Government that its relations with the Republics of Latin America are upon a firmer foundation, perhaps, than ever before. This gratifying situation no doubt arises, to a great degree, from the fact that the very troubles of the past year have afforded opportunities for cooperation and for the expression, in action, of mutual confidence.

When the relations of Peru and Bolivia were strained by the acrimony engendered by their boundary dispute, which had been submitted to the arbitration of the Government of the Argentine Republic, the United States, while adhering to the policy of abstention from any undue mingling in the affairs of other countries, had the opportunity to voice its confidence that the Governments immediately concerned, if left to themselves, would reach a solution satisfactory to the dignity and interests of each and in a manner to do no injury to the great principle of arbitration. This belief was justified by events, and later, through the action of the governing board of the Pan American Union, the way was also smoothed in a manner whereby the Bolivian Government is to be represented at the conference. This action of the governing board has an importance in that it laid down a principle, in which this Government firmly believes, namely, that membership in the Pan American Union entitles each Government to participate in the conferences irrespective of the existence of diplomatic relations between it and the Government in whose capital the conference may be held—a principle which the Government of the Argentine Republic was the first to espouse.

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In response to the request of Costa Rica and of Panama, the good offices of the United States were extended to bring together the respective representatives who signed a convention under which the ancient boundary dispute between the two countries is to be referred to arbitration.

Quite recently, when the armies of Peru and Ecuador had been mobilized and were reported to be in sight of each other, the Governments of the Argentine Republic and of the United States of Brazil joined this Government in offering their mediation, under The Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907, and in the name of Pan Americanism, and it is sincerely hoped that this action will prove to have averted a war. The promptness and cordial unanimity of this tripartite movement for peace happily illustrates the harmony and good will of the Governments concerned. Indeed, scarcely less important than the beneficent results which it is hoped has been accomplished is the fine example of these great powers working together for a high purpose—an example further signalized by the fact that the Government of Chile promptly came forward with the assurance of its valuable support, which is a powerful influence and an important contribution to the probable success of the efforts of the Governments which directly offered their mediation. This joint action is interesting also as giving to the American Republics the honor of first making actual avail of these most important provisions of The Hague conventions.

Among the achievements in which this Government had not the honor of a part may be mentioned the following: There has recently been adjusted a boundary question between Peru and Brazil, and conventions have been signed between Argentina and Uruguay and between Brazil and Uruguay, with a happy effect upon the question of navigation in the River Plate, and, in the second case, upon a question of access to the sea from northern Uruguay through Brazilian waterways.

The geographical proximity of Central America, the frequency of trouble in the less fortunate of those Republics, and the relation to them of the United States as a moral party to the Washington conventions of 1907 have resulted in this Government’s being, for a number of years, frequently called upon to exert its influence among those Republics. The present year has been no exception. As you are aware, there are now no diplomatic relations between the United States and Nicaragua for the reason that this Government has not yet seen its way clear to recognize any Government as in the possession and exercise of the governmental machinery of the whole country with the consent of the governed, as able and willing to discharge its international obligations, as capable of responding to a demand for indemnity for the murder of American citizens last winter, as determined to bend every effort to bring those guilty to justice wherever they may be, and as prepared to strengthen, for its part, and to abide by the Washington conventions.

The policy of the United States toward Nicaragua was fully set forth in a letter addressed to the then chargé d’affaires of the Government of Zelaya, who was handed his passports December 1, 1909. Although the situation in Nicaragua remains a regrettable one, that policy has already had the effect, at least, of freeing Nicaragua from a dictator who was the scourge of his own people and who disdained and trampled upon the rights and interests of all foreigners.

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In being compelled to take somewhat drastic action toward such a Government the United States well knew that its action would not be misconstrued by the progressive American Republics with stable Governments and high ideals, for such Governments know that to ask justice for our citizens and to refuse to tolerate and deal with mediæval despots is only to be true to the civilization and institutions which they share, if this were not true, then Pan Americanism would be a sham instead of a community of free and equal Governments, each worthy and demanding the respect of the others.

I am, sirs, your obedient servant,

  • P. C. Knox.
  • Hon. Henry White, Chairman,
  • Col. E. H. Crowder,
  • Lewis Nixon, Esq.,
  • Hon. John Bassett Moore,
  • Hon. Bernard Moses,
  • Lamar C. Quintero, Esq.,
  • Prof. Paul S. Reinsch,
  • Prof. David Kinley,
    Delegates of the United States of America to the Fourth International Conference of American States.