Washington Conference (1889)

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Washington Conference (1889)

This meeting, the First International Conference of American States, is sometimes known as the first Pan-American Conference. Initiated by the United States and held in Washington, D.C., from 2 October 1889 to 19 April 1890, it marked the institutional beginning of the Inter-American System. Seventeen Latin American states (all but the Dominican Republic) sent delegates. U.S. officials wanted Latin Americans to turn from Europe to the United States for imports and capital. Latin Americans turned down the U.S. proposal for a Pan-American customs union, arguing they would receive few concessions in return for preferences given. The conference approved a treaty of compulsory arbitration for the peaceful settlement of inter-American disputes, but signatories insisted on reservations that eroded its obligatory nature. No state subsequently ratified the treaty, although some of its features were incorporated in later inter-American instruments.

Latin Americans did adopt a resolution (the United States cast the only negative vote), based on the Calvo Doctrine, declaring that resident aliens should not enjoy privileges beyond laws established for citizens and denying outside governments the right to intervene on their behalf. Finally, the conference established the International Union of American Republics as a temporary regional association and the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics (the rudimentary forerunner of the Pan-American Union) as its agency.

See alsoBlaine, James Gillespie .


Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, The International Conferences of American States, 1889–1928 (1931).

John Lloyd Mecham, The United States and Inter-American Security, 1889–1960 (1961), pp. 48-58.

Additional Bibliography

Marichal, Carlos. México y las conferencias panamericanas, 1889–1938: Antecedentes de la globalización. México: Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, 2002.

Martí, José En los Estados Unidos: Periodismo de 1881 a 1892. Roberto Fernández Retamar, and Pedro Pablo Rodríguez. Colección Archivos, 43. Madrid: Allca XX, 2003.

Sheinin, David. Beyond the Ideal: Pan Americanism in Inter-American Affairs. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Ward, Thomas. "Martí y Blaine: Entre la colonialidad ten-ebrosa y la emancipación inalcanzable." Cuban Studies 38 (2007).

                                             G. Pope Atkins

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Washington Conference (1889)

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Washington Conference (1889)