Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Remarks at the Dedication of the Robert A. Taft Memorial Bell Tower.

April 14, 1959

Mr. Chairman, President Hoover, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is not my function in this program to eulogize the memory of Robert A. Taft. I have been given the privilege in my capacity as Honorary Chairman of the Robert A. Taft Memorial Foundation to present this memorial to the Congress of the United States. But in doing so, I would feel remiss if I failed to give some expression to the very great admiration and affection I formed for the Senator in the very late weeks of his life.

I met him officially and in close cooperative political work only after the Inauguration in 1953. But in the remaining months with him, I and all members of the administration learned how much we depended upon him.

In his long career of public service, he was many things to many people. Numbers here today knew him as a colleague--either a trusted leader or a formidable opponent.

All knew him as a commanding figure on Capitol Hill. To the people of the United States he was a liberal in his championship of individual rights and opportunity, but he was also the very symbol of informed and responsible conservatism in everything affecting the Nation's economy. He was, by his own definition, a politician. An admiring nation now acknowledges that he was infinitely more.

To me, Senator Taft was the vital link between the legislative and the executive branches of our Government in the early period of this administration. During those days, whenever I needed him most, he was there, with all his vast knowledge of government all his wisdom and experience. For the good of all America, no one gave of himself more unstintingly, more generously than did Robert Taft. And, doing these things, he gave, also, to me and to my associates in the Cabinet, the priceless gift of friendship. For all this, I am humbly, eternally grateful.

He made a remark one day to me that has made a very great impression on my memory. We were discussing two projects in which he took a somewhat more liberal attitude than did I. And we went over the factors in discussing this for a little while, and finally I said to the Senator: "I do not understand why you are always labelled in the newspapers as a conservative and I, at least sometimes, am called a liberal." He said, "Mr. President, in politics you will learn that the newspapers give labels to political figures, and there is not necessarily any direct connection between a man's convictions, beliefs, and purpose and what is stated in some of the columns of those papers."

But I repeat--those last weeks, brief though the experience was, have left with me a very great feeling of gratitude to his memory.

So it is with a sense of high distinction and honor that I dedicate this memorial to one of the Senate's illustrious members--and by the symbolic presentation of these keys to the Vice President and the Speaker of the House, I hereby turn over its custody to the Congress of the United States.

Note: The dedication ceremony was held at the site on the Capitol Grounds at 10:00 a.m. Representative B. Carroll Reece, President of the Robert A. Taft Memorial Foundation, served as Presiding Officer, assisted by Representative Clarence J. Brown, Chairman of the Foundation's Subcommittee on the Physical Memorial.

A complete report of the dedication is published in House Document 121 (86th Cong., 1st sess.).

Mr. Taft served as United States Senator from Ohio from 1939 until his death on July 31, 1953.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Remarks at the Dedication of the Robert A. Taft Memorial Bell Tower. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235430

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