William Howard Taft

Remarks to the Pupils of St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon

October 03, 1909

Young Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls:

You see I make some distinction in the matter of age.

His Grace, the Archbishop, called you all his children, as you are, but I have to make a distinction.

I am delighted to see you, and I thank the Archbishop, the clergy and the teachers for giving me an opportunity to come here this afternoon and to look into your faces. I understand that you are curious; that you are interested to see the President of the United States, to see what manner of man he is. I am very much interested to see you and to see in your faces and in your bearing the indications of the coming generation in Oregon.

I was delighted to hear you sing "America." That is our song, although the air first came from Germany, and then was appropriated by England and now is appropriated by us; but it is a beautiful air, and it is the words that make the sentiment, and the sentiment of that song I am sure searches your hearts, as it does those of older people.

Your church teaches that loyalty to God is the same as fidelity to country and reverence for constituted authority, and so do all good churches; and we can be very certain that those who are loyal to their church are certain to be loyal to the country; that those who are good Catholics are good citizens, just as those who are consistent members of every church find in the doing of their duty to the church everything that leads them on to the uplifting of humanity and the observation of all the obligations to government.

And now, my boys and girls, I am going to say goodbye. I wish you all prosperity. I can see in your faces a healthiness, chubbiness and determination, so that when you get into your games you strive to win. I hope you do, but I also hope that when somebody else is a little stronger or a little better or a little fleeter and that somebody else wins, you will have self-restraint to be good losers. For it sometimes takes a good deal more firmness and character and substance that will carry us through life to bear the humiliation of defeat than to achieve success and win; not that you ought not to try to win. You ought to have the feeling when you win a race that the next time somebody will beat you, and if he does, render to him what is due him.

Now my friends, good-bye. I am delighted to have met you. I hope this scene will remain in your memories, as it certainly will in mine. I wish you all prosperity. God bless you all.

William Howard Taft, Remarks to the Pupils of St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/365226

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