Calvin Coolidge was great because he lived conservative principles and used them in his leadership positions. He was known for his honesty and integrity. Coolidge earned the respect of Americans, and he had a reputation for wisdom as well as for common sense and dry wit. He was not known for his oratory skills, rarely made public statements and seldom wasted a word.
While serving as Governor of Massachusetts in 1919, Coolidge settled a
police strike and came to national prominence. About seventy-five percent of the city's police officers went on strike, and hoodlums roamed Boston streets for two nights, smashing windows and looting stores. Coolidge ordered out the state guard and brought order to Boston . Nineteen leaders of the police union were fired, and Coolidge made his famous statement: "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime" (George H. Mayer in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 1030-1034). Boston
Coolidge was serving as Vice President with President Warren G. Harding and became President on August 3, 1923, upon the death of President Harding. Coolidge entered the White House about the same time that the
Teapot Dome and other scandals of the Harding Administration became public knowledge. His own honesty was not questioned, and he gave no support to those who were guilty, even forcing the Attorney General to resign.
enjoyed prosperity and the Roaring 20's during the Coolidge Administration. He believed that Americans were in the business of business and supported American businesses both at home and abroad. He stood for economy and a simple way of life. "I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people." Under his directions, there were high tariffs on imports in order to help American manufacturers, and Congress reduced income taxes, resulting in increased revenue from taxes. The nation was able to reduce its national debt by about a billion dollars per year and immigration was restricted during his administration. United States
Coolidge declined to run for a second full term as President, which surprised the nation. He wrote in his autobiography, "The chances of having wise and faithful public service are increased by a change in the presidential office after a moderate length of time." His typical response for comments on leaving office: "Goodbye, I have had a very enjoyable time in
Coolidge was distressed by the stock market crash of 1929 and the depression that followed it. He at first felt guilty about leaving office, thinking that he could have stopped it. Then he realized that the depression would have happened regardless of which party was in office. As the depression deepened during the fall and winter of 1932, Coolidge became increasingly unhappy. On January 5, 1933, he died of a heart attack in his bedroom.
President Coolidge left many wonderful quotes, most of which are applicable to our day. His quotes are about business, taxes, patriotism, faith in God, attributes of character, the importance of work, etc. Some of them are as follow.
"…After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. I am strongly of the opinion that the great majority of people will always find these are the moving impulses of our life. But it is only those who do not understand our people, who believe that our national life is entirely absorbed by material motives. We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are many other things that we want much more. We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization. The chief ideal of the American people is idealism."
"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work."
"Wealth comes from industry and from the hard experience of human toil. To dissipate it in waste and extravagance is disloyalty to humanity."
"This country would not be a land of opportunity,
America could not be , if the people were shackled with government monopolies." America
"The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal [people] must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support."
"When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions."
"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery."
"The government of the
is a device for maintaining in perpetuity the rights of the people, with the ultimate extinction of all privileged classes." United States
"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once."
"Duty is not collective; it is personal."
"Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character."
"Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong."
"Civilization and profit go hand in hand."
"Ultimately property rights and personal rights are the same thing."
"Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped."
"There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means."
"The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge, it is always simple and direct."
"We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen."
"It takes a great man to be a good listener."
"Don't you know that four-fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?"
"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of fact within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity."
"Any reward that is worth having only comes to the industrious. The success which is made in any walk of life is measured almost exactly by the amount of hard work that is put into it."
"Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil. Our great hope lies in developing what is good."
"It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones."
"To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."
"Patriotism is easy to understand in
; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country." America
"The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten."
"They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the
would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves." United States
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
"The only way I know to drive out evil from the country is by the constructive method of filling it with good."
"It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan."
"The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of man. Of course we endeavor to restrain the vicious, and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reform which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of our religious convictions, or they will not come at all. Peace, justice, humanity, charity - these cannot be legislated into being. They are the result of divine grace."
"Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in our world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic, the other is represented by despotism."
Facts about the life of Calvin Coolidge can be found here. Facts about the Roaring Twenties can be found here.