Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Toasts of the President and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia

May 26, 1954

Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen:

During the past century and a half, there have been entertained within these walls many individuals of distinction--some of our own country, some visiting us from abroad. I think it is safe to say that never has any company here gathered been honored by the presence in their guest of honor of an individual more noted for his fierce defense of freedom and for his courage in defending the independence of his people than the guest of honor this evening.

I read once that no individual can really be known to have greatness until he has been tested in adversity. By this test, our guest of honor has established new standards in the world. In 5 years of adversity, with his country overrun but never conquered, he never lost for one single second his dignity. He never lost his faith in himself, in his people, and in his God.

I deem it a very great privilege, ladies and gentlemen, to ask you to rise and with me to drink a Toast to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Ethiopia.

Note: The President proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House, at 9:45 p.m. The Emperor responded as follows:

I thank you, Mr. President, for the kind sentiments which you have expressed on this occasion, because I take them, not as addressed to me, but to my beloved people.

I have accepted your kind invitation, Mr. President, to come to the United States and visit your nation, because it has offered me the occasion to express the depth of my appreciation and that of my people for your friendship and assistance which encouraged and aided us in resuming our march on the road of progress from which we had been detained by the imperatives of war. That assistance is today, in yet more varied forms, strongly impelling us forward on the path of progressive development.

By your great comprehension of the problems with which Ethiopia is faced, it has been possible for us to achieve, with your help, considerable progress in the solution of the present hour. The smoothness of this collaboration notwithstanding the barriers of distance and language and the breadth and richness of our relations attained during the half-century to which you, Mr. President, have alluded, constitute the supreme manifestation of that extraordinary flexibility of understanding and felicity of spirit with which you, as a nation, have been endowed, and of the trust and confidence which you inspire in the minds of others.

I raise my glass to the men and women of the great and noble American nation, and to its heroic and distinguished chief, President Eisenhower and, last but not least, to his consort and wife who so charmingly represents in her person the women of the United States and the role which they play in giving leadership to American thoughts and ideals throughout the world.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Toasts of the President and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232058

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