10 Downing Street

I wrote:

> It was Texas governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson
> in 1924 who said, “If English was good
> enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”

Diceman says:

> This quote has a very Urban Legend-ish
> feel to it. What’s your source, Wendall. I
> ask because I’ve always suspected that it
> was made up as a joke by a hispanic
> comedian like Cheech Marin.

You’re right. It does sound like an urban legend, but if it is, it’s a very old urban legend. I was replying to oedipus, who wrote:

> I read a while back that some people were
> getting worried about the encroachment of
> Spanish into America, and they felt the
> need to legislate that English would
> remain the official language of the
> country (!). One Congressman spoke up in
> favour of English, his reasoning being
> that “If it’s good enough for Jesus
> Christ, it’s good enough for me.”

This makes it sound like it happened fairly recently. Clearly the story is older than that, regardless of whether it’s true or not. The closest that I can come to verifying the story just off-hand is that at this URL: http://www.hisp.com/apr96/bilingual.html
the following story is told:

> In explaining why Miriam “Ma” Ferguson,
> who was governor of Texas in 1924, was
> opposed to legislation that would have
> required every high school student in the
> state to learn a foreign language,
> Ferguson picked up a Bible and said, “If
> English was good enough for Jesus Christ,
> it ought to be good enough for the
> children of Texas.”

This is from an article called “The Politics of Language” from the April 1996 issue of a magazine called Hispanic. Somebody else will have to do the research to find out if this story is true. Hey, maybe Cecil wants to do it.

Incidentally, my name is spelled Wendell.

Wendell: I read recently that “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me” was originally a joke made by an American author. I think it was Mencken, but I can’t find the book so I can’t confirm that.

Supernerd: The fascinating numbering system of our fair city certainly does have its quirks. I used to live in Riverside, south of Centre Avenue but north of the river. The sign for the avenue said N.E.; the sign for the street said S.E. (one right above the other on the same pole). One glorious day I got mail addressed to the Cecil Hotel!

Bubba: Ahhhh, mail for the Cecil - illustrates my point perfectly. You obviously had an address close to the Cecil, which is South East and you were technically North East? Even the post office gets confused, but that’s a whole other thread.

The Cecil, for the rest of you who are still reading, is the sleaziest, tackiest, worst bar with a hotel attached in the city. I walked past it every morning for a couple years going to work and three mornings out of five there was either blood or vomit all over the sidewalk. Memories, memories …

Bubba_blue writes:

> Wendell: I read recently that “If English
> was good enough for Jesus, it’s good
> enough for me” was originally a joke made
> by an American author. I think it was
> Mencken, but I can’t find the book so I
> can’t confirm that.

I’ve found this quote in a number of web pages and newsgroup posts. Some of them attribute it to “Ma” Ferguson, while some attribute to various other (usually unnmamed) sources. I’ve never seen it attributed to Mencken before. In any case, it’s clearly not a recent quote. Does anyone know how to find the true source of the quote?

A) The quadrant system was first used (and still is) in Washington, DC. Everything radiates from the Capitol.

B) I can’t speak to the Texas case, but when Dorothy L. Sayers did her series of radio plays on the life of Christ, “The Man Born to be King” in 1941 or so, a newspaper castigated her for her use of the Greek New Testament instead of the “sacred English original”.

And there are plenty of fundamentalist loonies who assert that the King James Bible (Authorized Version) is the “real” Bible, and that any and all mistakes in translation or transcription leading up to it were intended all along by God (as part of his revision process, I guess).


John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams