Nicholas Murray Butler

Radio Address

Radio Address by Nicholas Murray Butler, delivered on December 12, 1931, after the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on December 10, 1931.

Dr. Butler was unable to attend the presentation ceremony in Oslo on December 10, 1931, and because of official duties could not deliver a Nobel lecture in Oslo later. He did, however, deliver a radio address on December 12, 1931, which has some of the characteristics of both an acceptance speech and a Nobel lecture. Because it is of interest in this respect, it is given here. The address was broadcast over radio station WEAF in New York and a National Broadcasting Company chain. The broadcast program was opened by Mr. Wilhelm T. von Munthe av Morgenstierne, Norwegian consul-general in the United States, who reported the Nobel Committee’s decision to award the Peace Prize for 1931 to Miss Addams and Dr. Butler, reviewed the names of previous American winners, and paid special tributes to the two laureates for 1931. Miss Addams was unable to participate in the broadcast because of illness, but Dr. Butler delivered a major address. There is apparently no extant copy of this speech, certainly none with his papers at Columbia University. We do have, however, the substance of his address in a report in the New York Times for December 13, 1931. What follows, then, is the New York Times account of the speech,1 summarizing and occasionally quoting Dr. Butler directly:

«It is with real emotion that I acknowledge the gracious and kindly words [of Consul-General Morgenstierne] and that I record my profound appreciation of this most distinguished honor», said Dr. Butler. «There is no distinction to equal it for those who hope to make this world a safer and happier place in which to live. It will not do to confine to mere words our efforts for peace. The great hope is of a world that has learned the supreme lesson that civilization has to teach the lesson that might does not make right and that war between nations is now as much out of date as the torture chamber and the scalping knife.»

Dr. Butler then submitted the following as a policy for the establishment of permanent peace:

(1) Substitute for departments or ministries of war, navy, and aviation a single department or ministry of national defense. There is no longer room for the word «war» in the permanent organization of any government signatory to the Pact of Paris2 or giving its adherence thereto.

(2) Abolish compulsory military service and reduce the armies of the world to police forces and skeletons of an emergency organization as is now the case in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States.

(3) Get rid of battleships, destroyers, submarines, and like instruments for the destruction of life and property, and maintain navies of peace.

(4) Develop speedily a controlling body of international law and a code of international conduct. The more closely these follow the evolution of the common law of England, doubtless the sounder and safer they will be, but much material is now ready to be cast in code or statutory-form.

(5) Strengthen the authority of the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague, as well as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and build up other institutions for conciliation and arbitration as needed, for use when the ordinary processes of diplomacy halt or fail.

(6) Increase the prestige and uphold the authority of the League of Nations, which is now an established institution.

(7) Move toward a quick carrying out of the plan projected by Secretary Blaine3 nearly half a century ago to bring the governments of the American continent into stated and formal cooperation without dictation or overlordship on the part of any one of them.

(8) Develop, in cooperation with the League of Nations or otherwise, a plan for safeguarding the peoples of the Orient and for protecting them from exploitation while they are adjusting their social, economic, and political organization to present-day conditions.

(9) Maintain and multiply those contacts, intellectual, moral, and spiritual, which so greatly promote international sympathy and understanding and which at the same time advance national pride and satisfaction. Science, literature, the fine arts, together with visits by representative and guiding personalities, are the most potent instruments with which to develop and safeguard the International Mind.

«All these the Pact of Paris suggests and makes possible. It is a program of peace for the constructive statesmanship of today and tomorrow.» Dr. Butler said that no words more fittingly disclosed the true significance of the ideals for which men died in the World War than an excerpt from Alfred Noyes’ Armistice Day poem,4 written three years ago. He quoted the poem beginning :

They have no pact to sign, our peaceful dead.

1. Copyright 1931 by The New York Times Co.; reprinted by permission.

2. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in Paris August 27, 1928, condemning war as an instrument of national policy and committing the signatories to peaceful settlement of international disputes.

3. James Gillespie Blaine (1830-1893), U.S. secretary of state (1881; 1889-1892).

4. Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), English poet. The poem referred to is «The Pact».

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1931

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