President Taft Address to Students, October 26, 1912

  Young ladies and gentlemen, I am very glad, I am very proud to be here this afternoon.  I not only 
agree with everything that Auditor General Sisson has said, but I will go further than he did.
Too much cannot be said of the importance of education, moral and secular, in the cause of good
citizenship.
Now that I am here, and I’m glad I am, I want to say something that will encourage you who are about
to enter the teachers’ profession. It is one of the greatest professions in the world. It is
in your power to do great good because you take the embryo citizen in the formative period when
he can be made somebody or let go to be a know-nothing and a do-nothing. You who teach are
the architects of the mind and the character and you can set the pupil on the way to higher ideals
in life.
But, when you become a teacher, you must be content to live in pretty moderate circumstances. You
must be content to get along without luxuries. You must be content to live a life of
usefulness, knowing that your greatest reward will come from the knowledge that you have done your
duty, that you have added your mite to the betterment of the human race and that you have made
those you taught better men and better women. The consciousness of having done your duty and of
seeing where your efforts have helped somebody else makes your life well worth living and it is
better than anything money can buy.
I am 56 years old and I have lived long enough to find out many things that you will learn as
you grow older. The greatest asset you have is character and with character you will be able to
play your part in a worthy manner. So, standing shoulder to shoulder in the cause of education, you
can do wonders to help in the cause and you can say when you are done: “I have done my little
and for that I deserve credit.”
Teachers begin life in a spirit of self sacrifice. In the Philippines we have a great problem.
We had half a million children to teach. They spoke sixteen different dialects, none of which
was fit for the use of civilized people. Only seven per cent spoke Spanish. We decided to teach
them English. We had a thousand teachers, most of them young women, all from the United States.
Now we have a teaching body of about 800 Americans and some 8,000 natives and the English language
is now becoming the language of the Orient. Those teachers have already earned the right to say
that they have lived a life that has been useful and that they have contributed to a result that is
an everlasting credit to the nation.
Young ladies and gentleman, I honor, and you should honor, the profession you are about
to enter. I congratulate you and I thank you.


Created on ... April 10, 2009