ROUND TABLE MOVEMENT
Mrs. Clyde P. Trotter
Delivered before Pan American Round Table One, Dallas, Texas, February 7, 1967, Spring Valley Country Club.
As this Table approaches the State Convention of the Pan American Round Tables of Texas, serving as one of the hostess Tables in conjunction with the other two Tables of Dallas, it is most fitting that we review the history of our movement. For the material used, I am grateful to our archives chairman, Mrs. Claude Nobles of San Antonio, who went with me to St. Mary's to check on facts and to your own Mrs. W. T. Spears, who helped with your Table's history. In passing, let me say I am pleased with the handling of the State Archives by St. Mary's, where also is kept the archives of the Mother Table, San Antonio. I am looking forward to their beautiful new library, which is now being constructed.
Our Pan American Round Table Movement centers around Florence Terry Griswold, the founder. Her objectives, as found in the Texas Constitution and those of the Texas Tables, was to provide mutual knowledge, understanding, and friendship among the peoples of the Western Hemisphere, and to foster movements towards a higher civilization-especially those effecting the women and children of these countries.
What interested Mrs. Griswold in Latin American affairs during the period 1910 to 1916, when Mexico was in the throes of turbulent politics, prompted her to open her home to the refugees that fled across the Border. She came to know, to understand, and to become friends with the Mexican people. Another thing that urged her to develop the Pan American Round Table Movement was her close friendship with John Barrett, Director-General of the Pan American Union. She felt the ideals of the Pan American Union could be advanced by, women, these ideals being: (1) Achieving an order of peace and justice; (2) Promoting American solidarity; (3) Strengthening collaboration among member states; (4) Defending their sovereignty, independence, and international integrity.
Mrs. Griswold felt women could, through knowledge and understanding, move toward close friendship. They could study the languages and the cultural heritage of the countries. She believed the women of the Americas could join hands from Canada to the southern tip of South America, as she often said, "To forge an unbroken chain of friendship, reaching the length of the hemisphere."
On Oct. 16, 1916, fifty years ago last year, she gathered her friends together at the Menger Hotel and the first P American Round Table was formed, modeled closely after the Pan American Union. She chose the name "Director", rather than "President", although in Latin America today these directors are called "Presidents". She arranged that each country in the hemisphere should have its representation within the Table. She chose as a motto Alexander Dumas' immortal expression of accord, "one for all - all for one". Adopted as a n insigna was a circle, without beginning or end, symbolizing unitay, continuity;, eternity, and equality, at the base of which would be superimposed the flags of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere. The assembly was to be a round table, borrowing the chivalrous method of discussion and decision made famous by the medieval knights, allotting to one and all equal opportunity of participation.
One never ceased to admire the foresight of this dedicated woman, as an example: as far back as 1920, the San Antonio Table formally prepared and endorsed a resolution favoring the establishment of an American Court of Arbitration. This resolution was circulated among various organizations, and was also sent to the State 'Departments of all the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Direct replies came from fourteen (14) republics, and today, nearly fifty years later, this Court is a reality.
Close relationship with Mexico continued to grow and flourish. In our own State , the movement expanded: Laredo, in 1921; El Paso, later in the same year; Austin, in 1922. Also in that year, 1922, the State Organization was formed, and conventions were held each spring with the Board meetings each fall; later, the members of the Table in Mexico City, after it was formed, were invited to the conventions as guests. They came and very often took an active part in the discussions. Mrs. Griswold's purpose in a state organization was to coordinate the work of the Tables and join together in projects that one Table could not do alone. She became the first State Director, or "Director General,' as she referred to herself.
The Mexico City Table referred to above was formed in 1928. In 1936, the first Table beyond Mexico was established in San Jose, Costa Rica, by Sra. Angela Acuna de Chacon, the first woman lawyer of her country.
Your own Table (Pan American Round Table One, Dallas) was organized February 1937, by Mrs. Stone J. Robinson, who became your first Director. Your initial projects were the beautification of the Little Mexican Village, maintenance of a collection of Latin American art and craft in conjunction with the Dallas Art Museum, and the expansion of the Latin American Library at S.M.U.; of course, you also had your study of Spanish.
The death of Mrs. Griswold occurred in July, 1941, just three months prior to the twenty fifth anniversary of the movement. Olivia Nolte, of the San Antonio Table proposed, and it was adopted by the State, that the Florence Terry Griswold Scholarship Fund be established as her memorial. This was to be a permanent fund, the interest from which was to be used for scholarships for Latin American young women who wished to come to Texas to further their education, and who would return to her home country to put her education to work - a project fitting into the objectives of Mrs. Griswold.
On the dearth of Mrs. Griswold, your own Mrs. Stone J. Robinson became head of the State Tables. In the archives is a vast collection of Mrs. Robinson's papers.
On April 14, 1935, the Laredo Table invited representatives from fifteen (15) countries to come for the placing of the Pan American marker on our international bridge, which I am sure many of you have seen. Mrs. Fernando Torreblanca, daughter of former President Calles, of Mexico, unveiled the marker. Edward L. Reed, Washington, D.C., Mexican Division of the Department of State, represented the Secretary of State and made the dedicatory speech. The response was given by the Honorable Gustavo Serrano, representing the Mexican government. My Laredo friends tell many interesting stories of the events of this meeting. It must have been very exciting and very protocol.
During the time I was Laredo's Director, we had the big Laredo flood. The marker was removed and placed in storage. When the new bridge was built, the son of one of Mrs. Griswold's friends, Mrs. Barrera, of San Antonio, had the marker re-enameled for the State and placed back in proper position.
In 1944, there was a conference held in Mexico City by representatives of the Texas Tables and the two Tables of Mexico - Mexico City and Monterrey. The purpose was to consider uniting the efforts of Mexico and-Texas to further our Pan American Round Table Movement. At that meeting, Miss Ruth Coit, of San Antonio, suggested the name "Alliance." A committee was formed to draft a constitution for an organization, and Mrs. Robinson was named the temporary Chairman. The First Alliance Convention was held in Havana, Cuba, in 1946, Cuba, having formed an active Table, which, unfortunately, did not function very long. The Constitution was adopted; the Alliance came into being; Mrs. Robinson was chosen Director General, with Mrs. W. W. Ely, of Brownsville, as Associate Director. In 1953, Mrs. Dixie Waltrip, of Dallas Two, became the Director General. At the tenth convention, in San Antonio last year, it was reported that all countries in the western Hemisphere had Pan American Round Tables except Canada, Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba, with two of uncertain status - Ecuador and Paraguay. The United States had the greatest number of Tables: Thirty-four (34), with 26 of these in Texas. Mexico comes next with fifteen (15), followed by Peru with seven (7).
Thus in fifty years, our movement has expanded and developed – developed around our founder, Florence Terry Griswold. As Texas’ tribute last year appearing in the February, 1966, Pan Americana Texana: a tribute prepared by one who knew Mrs. Griswold, our archives chairman, Mrs. Claude R. Nobles, we said, and as we now say as the Texas Tables Convention comes to Dallas, "The word that best sums up her character is HEART, a heart full of sympathy, compassion and. Christian charity; a heart tender enough to be moved with pity at a neighbor's plight; a heart resolute enough to plan a crusade in that neighbor’s behalf. A heart strong enough and capable enough to lay well the foundation for a structure which even in her time gained wide recognition, and which, if we-you and I -are faithful to our trust, will live to bring reverence, honor, and respect to her name as long as freedom and democracy-and the very Hemisphere itself-shall endure."
What is this trust, this heritage left by our Founder to you and to me? "FAITH is the righteousness of our cause; HOPE is the ultimate realization of our ideals; LOVE and DEVOTION to the work; COURAGE in the face of disappointments; VIGILANCE and ALERTNESS to changing conditions; STEADFASTNESS in duty to fellowmen; CONFIDENCE in cooperations of all peoples of the Western Hemisphere in our efforts to bring about that perfect understanding and good-will among the American nations that will present to the world a united front under the unconquerable manner of a living Pan Americanism." We will succeed: for we build on knowledge, understanding, and friendship.
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