The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Toasts of the President and President Ayub Khan at the State Dinner at Mount Vernon.
July 11, 1961

Ladies and gentlemen:

I want to express, first, the appreciation of us all to our hosts, and I would not want the President of Pakistan and his party to think that he was being entertained by the United States Government, or the President. We are all guests here tonight--the Americans and our visitors from abroad--of a somewhat obscure group, but nevertheless extremely powerful and significant, the Ladies of Mount Vernon.

It is a source of great satisfaction to my wife, far surpassing anything else that has happened to her, that she is related by marriage to Connecticut, which is the title given to the Lady of Mount Vernon who comes from that State.

We are also, though Members of Congress never probably realized it, we also have in Congress, Ohio-which is Mrs. Bolton, who is the Lady who is very active in politics but hides many of the things that she does under a bushel, and has labored long for Mount Vernon and for many other causes, and as usual none of us knows about it. So we want to express our great satisfaction in having a member of our lowly profession so honored by the Ladies.

I want to express our thanks to the Regent, Mrs. Beirne, who has been so generous, and to Mr. Wall, who is the Director of Mount Vernon. I want to say, and I am sure I speak on behalf of my fellow countrymen and women, the great pride and satisfaction that we have in Mount Vernon. This is the first time, I am sure, that any of us have dined here. This is a great object of regard and respect by our fellow citizens. It is intensely felt by the Members of the Congress and members of the Government, and therefore for all of us, not only from abroad but from home who come to Mount Vernon, we feel the greatest pride in it.

Mr. President, we feel a special satisfaction because you are our guest tonight and because we feel that what Mount Vernon stands for is understood by you. Mount Vernon means to us not merely a beautiful home, but it also is, we hope, the symbol of the United States--in the past, the present, and we hope the future.

This country was developed by an extraordinary group of men who had wide talent, who came from among the most prosperous group in our country, and yet were revolutionaries, and who made this country's independence possible. And we hope that the same principles with which our hosts tonight honor President Washington, we hope this country stands for today.

We recognize in you a leader who stands for those things in his own country, who recognizes that the independence of his own country is not enough, that there is a link which binds your country and ours all the way across the globe. And it is a particular source of satisfaction to my wife and to myself that this dinner here honors you who, as I said at the airport this morning, has been a friend of our country long before I became the President; but even in the short time that I have been President, I have seen a most particular manifestation of your country's willingness to commit itself for the cause of freedom.

George Washington once said, "I would rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me than be attended at the seat of government by the officers of state and the representatives of every power in Europe."

We have got a friend or two about us tonight. We nevertheless feel that Washington would be glad we are here, and would be glad that we are his guests and particularly, I believe, that you brought your daughter and her husband here, and the members of your party. And I hope you realize that among both Republicans and Democrats, and among all the Americans here tonight, that no one could be a more welcome guest.

I hope that you will all join with me in drinking a toast to the President of Pakistan and the people of his country.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Toasts of the President and President Ayub Khan at the State Dinner at Mount Vernon.", July 11, 1961. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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