President Benjamin Harrison Appoints a U.S. Delegate to the Conference That Formed the Organization of American States

He choses Cornelius Bliss, a major supporter and future Cabinet member

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This is the only appointment for the formation of the OAS that we have ever seen

The First International Conference of American States was agreed to in 1889 and convened in Washington in January 1890. It was held largely as the result of the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State James G....

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President Benjamin Harrison Appoints a U.S. Delegate to the Conference That Formed the Organization of American States

He choses Cornelius Bliss, a major supporter and future Cabinet member

This is the only appointment for the formation of the OAS that we have ever seen

The First International Conference of American States was agreed to in 1889 and convened in Washington in January 1890. It was held largely as the result of the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State James G. Blaine, who believed in the special role of the nations of the New World as a beacon of hope, progress, and cooperation, in contrast to the seemingly constant wars, competition and quarrels of the Old World. He also saw such an organization useful to reach agreements on common commercial and juridical issues among the countries of the Americas. The Conference established the International Union of American Republics, later called the Pan-American Union, with its headquarters in Washington, D.C. In 1948 it was reconstituted as the Organization of American States (OAS), which still exists to promote economic, military, and cultural cooperation among its members, which include almost all of the independent states of the Western Hemisphere. The OAS’s main goals are to prevent any outside state’s intervention in the Western Hemisphere and to maintain peace between the various states within the hemisphere.

In the economic and social field, the most notable achievement of the OAS was its adoption of the Alliance for Progress in 1961. This was designed to further economic and social development, and its specific goals included a sustained growth in per capita income, more equitable distribution of income, accelerated development in industry and agriculture, improvement of health and welfare, stabilization of export prices, and domestic price stability. in the 1990s, the OAS became more active in encouraging democratic government in member states, and it became a leader in observing and monitoring elections to safeguard against irregularities.

Cornelius N. Bliss was chairman of the Republican committee in New York in 1887 and 1888, and contributed much to the success of the Benjamin Harrison ticket in his state in the 1888 election. He served as treasurer of the Republican National Committee from 1892 to 1904. He turned down the offer of becoming Secretary of the Treasury under President McKinley, but accepted the post of Secretary of the Interior, maintaining that position until February 1899. Offered by McKinley the vice presidential slot in his 1900 reelection campaign, he declined, so the nod went instead to Theodore Roosevelt. In 1904, Bliss was Roosevelt’s campaign manager.

Document signed, Washington, April 2, 1889, appointing “Cornelius N. Bliss of New York” to be “Delegate to the Conference between the United States of America and the Republics of Mexico, Central and South America, Haiti, San Domingo, and the Empire of Brazil, to be held at Washington in 1889.” The document is countersigned by James Blaine as Secretary of State, a fitting countersignature considering this conference was his idea. The Seal of the United States is still present.

This is the only appointment for the formation of the OAS that we have ever seen.

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