American Friends Service Committee

Acceptance Speech

Acceptance Speech by Professor Henry J. Cadbury, representing the American Friends Service Committee, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1947

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness and friends.

On behalf of the American Friends Committee I accept our share of this award with humility and gratitude. We are humble because we recognise what we Quakers of today owe to the generations of Quakers who have for three centuries set the pattern of practical pacifism that we unfalteringly follow. We recognise also that the work of our Committee has been made possible through the cooperation of our fellow prize-winners, the Friends Service Council and by the support in funds, personel and in sympathetic understanding of thousands of Americans who are not members of our small Society of Friends.

We are grateful that in this award attention is again called to the need for the ideals that we profess – renunciation of all war – practical friendliness across frontiers, reconciliation with former enemies and former friends. Today in America, in Europe and in Asia men need almost as never before to bear an appeal to reason and to patience.

If any should question the appropriateness of bestowing the peace prize upon a group rather than upon an outstanding individual we may say this: The common people of all nations want peace. In the presence of great impersonal forces they feel individually helpless to promote it. You are saying to them here today that common folk, not statesmen, nor generals nor great men of affairs, but just simple plain men and women like the few thousand Quakers and their friends, if they devote themselves to resolute insistence on goodwill in place of force, even in the face of great disaster past or threatened, can do something to build a better, peaceful world. The future hope of peace lies with such personal sacrificial service. To this ideal humble persons everywhere may contribute.

It is not enough merely for us to do good – feeding and clothing the needy and to receive their heartfelt thanks. We must find ways in which even the needy can share in service. To this end our committee is trying to find means. May I suggest to you and the other countries of Europe a way that you can help us. You will need for this help neither money nor material gifts.

All Europe is rightly anxious about the relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Here is a place where you can help. Norway, your well loved country, and the other nations of Europe must be the bridge of understanding. You must not take sides with either of us, you must help both of us cooperate. And I know from contacts I have made with persons from many countries of Europe that already they are anxious to do just this. You must have faith to do this – faith in all men, even in Americans and Russians. We earnestly invite you to share in this way our ministry of reconciliation.

From Les Prix Nobel en 1947, Editor Arne Holmberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1948


Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1947

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MLA style: American Friends Service Committee – Acceptance Speech. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Mon. 24 Jun 2024. <>

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