Samuel Guy Inman, missionary, teacher, and social reformer who helped to formulate the national "Good Neighbor" policy toward Latin America, was born in Trinity County, Texas, on June 24, 1877, the son of Joel B. and Caroline (Rodgers) Inman. His parents died when he was young, and he spent his adolescence in Houston as the ward of Ed and Martha Kneeland. He was an enthusiastic worker in the Christian Endeavor Society of the First Christian Church. In 1897 he enrolled in Add-Ran Christian University (now Texas Christian University), and after two years he transferred to Kentucky University (later Transylvania College) and then to Columbia University. He accepted his first church office in 1901 as assistant pastor of the First Church of the Disciples of Christ (later Park Avenue Christian Church) in New York City. On May 31, 1904, Inman received his B.A. degree from Columbia University. On the same day he married Bessie Winona Cox, and immediately afterward he became pastor of the Tabernacle Church in Fort Worth.
Inman began missionary work in Latin America in 1905. He became an expert in Latin-American culture and politics and frequently served the United States and Latin-American governments in advisory capacities. In 1908 he founded El Instituto del Puebla in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, and in 1913 he founded the Mexican Christian Institute (later the Inman Christian Center; see CHRISTIAN CHURCH SCHOOLS). He helped organize the first Congress on Christian Work in Latin America in 1916; this meeting sought to coordinate and encourage Protestant missionary endeavors in Latin America. Inman founded many schools in Latin America, the most ambitious project being the Colegio Internacional at Asunción, Paraguay.
In 1915 Inman began speaking out on hemispheric affairs. That year he helped to found and became secretary of the Committee on Cooperation with Latin America, a post he held until 1939. In 1920 the committee appointed him editor of its monthly journal, La Nueva Democracia. With his publication in 1919 of Intervention in Mexico, Inman began a notable career writing on inter-American affairs in both Spanish and English. He was a delegate to the Fifth Pan American Conference at Santiago, Chile, in 1923, and thereafter he participated in every Pan American Conference. In 1923 he earned an M.A. degree from Columbia University while holding a position at Columbia as a lecturer. Both Transylvania College (in 1923) and Texas Christian University (in 1925) honored him with LL.D. degrees.
Inman's views on inter-American friendship influenced the Latin-American policies of the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman administrations. Inman assisted in the formulation of Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor" pronouncement in December 1933. In 1935 he was the first American cultural attaché for Latin America and served on the League of Nations Commission to Latin American Republics. In 1936 he was a presidential adviser at the Buenos Aires Conference, where Roosevelt reaffirmed the Monroe Doctrine. From 1937 to 1942 Inman was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout his career he was a popular college lecturer on Latin-American affairs. He teamed with Carlos E. Castañeda to write A History of Latin America for Schools (1945).
In 1945 Inman was an adviser to the Inter-American Conference on War and Peace at Chapultepec, Mexico, and was a consultant to the State Department during the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco. In the immediate postwar years Inman was generally critical of United States neglect of Latin America and objected to its support of "reactionary" elements there. In May 1948 the Colombian government appointed Inman its delegate to the Bogotá Inter-American Conference. On March 3, 1950, Inman was decorated with the Mexican Aztec Eagle by the Mexican government for his devotion to inter-American cooperation and for his efforts on behalf of Mexico's revolutionary democracy.
During the 1950s and 1960s Inman continued to work for world peace, although he supported wars against "communist aggression." He was a member of the Church Peace Union. He was also an outspoken critic of McCarthyism in the early 1950s. His best-known books include: The World Resolution (1955), The Voice of America-What Shall It Say? (1955), and The Rise and Fall of the Good Neighbor Policy (1957). Inman died on February 19, 1965, while attending the International Convocation on Peace in New York City, a conference arranged in response to Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in Terris (1963). Inman was survived by his wife and all five of their children.