Remarks at the Young Men's Christian Association in Salt Lake City, Utah
It is always a great pleasure for me to attend a Young Men's Christian Association in any city and to assist, as I have a number of times, in the dedication of new buildings for the purpose of the Association. I have done that in I don't know how many cities and even as far as Shanghai and Hong-Kong and Manila, and the reason is because I feel that the Young Men's Christian Association supplies a need in every community which no church, no institution, nothing else that I know of can meet. It supplies an opportunity for rational amusement, and at the same time for the study of ideals and for religious worship at appropriate times; and it saves young men of the city who have not the opportunity of home surroundings. As our cities grow, the number of young men who leave their homes in the country and go to the city increases and it offers to them an opportunity for a rational occupation of their leisure hours—hours which if they do not have the opportunity to spend in rational amusement and occupation are only too frequently devoted to vicious pursuits. Now, that is true in every city. It is especially true in the newer and younger cities. It is very true in the Orient where, so far away from home, young men especially forget the restraints and the obligations that neighborhood life puts upon them, and they first take one drink and then another, and as there is nothing else to do, a third, and as those drinks in those far distant countries seem to offer a stimulus that is agreeable, the end is not until they are in the gutter.
I congratulate you sincerely on the evidence of the especial excellence of your Association here. I am told that two or three times you have taken prizes offered to those interested in the Associations the country over for the excellence of your work and the skill and persistence of those who superintend it and engage in it. That is an admirable sign of your usefulness to the community. The Young Men's Christian Association offers a lesson which can not be too deeply impressed upon the people—the lesson of tolerance. It means the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, and the recognition of the advantages of all religion within the Christian brotherhood bringing one nearer to that ideal that we all aspire to and from which we so often fall away.
Now, my friends, I should be glad to talk with you longer on some of the details of Young Men's Christian Association work, but it is impossible for me to do so. I can only express my pleasure at having this opportunity in the somewhat strenuous program of the last three days to express to you my congratulation on the work that you have done and my hope for your continued usefulness in the community.
William Howard Taft, Remarks at the Young Men's Christian Association in Salt Lake City, Utah Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/365232