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The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

In Honor of Calvin Coolidge, A Great President Few Remember.

Posted by iusbvision on May 17, 2010

The accomplishments of Calvin Coolidge are many and he was one of our greatest presidents. He helped lead the united states out of a depression caused in large part by the progressive policies of Woodrow Wilson, he helped to restore liberty and was the man largely responsible for making the “Roaring Twenties” roar. We featured him BEFORE. Coolidge’s accomplishments have been largely scrubbed from textbooks and he was the Reagan of his time.

Dr. Alan Snyder is professor of American history and chair of the Department of Historical, Legal, and Leadership Studies at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

Dr. Snyder:

Ronald Reagan admired him  a lot. In fact, when Reagan was looking over his new house—the White House—shortly after his inaugural in 1981, he entered into the Cabinet Room.

On the wall were portraits of Truman, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The White House curator commented at the time, “If you don’t like Mr. Truman, you can move Mr. Truman out.” Even though Reagan, a former Democrat, had voted for Truman back in 1948, he made his decision: Truman’s portrait was removed and one of Calvin Coolidge was dusted off and put in its place.

Nowadays, in all the “right” circles [to be found primarily among the academic elite], the person of Coolidge is a source of amusement, if not outright derision. Why, he was a do-nothing president, someone who didn’t use the power of the office as he should have. Probably his most grievous sin, in their view, was the way he put the brakes on destiny: he was a foe of the progressive movement that was intended to reshape American government and culture.

Coolidge, whose administration spanned a good part of the 1920s, was a throwback to an earlier time. He was not a Woodrow Wilson; rather, he believed in the vision of the Founding Fathers and their concept of limited government. He remained true to the principles of self-government and the sanctity of private property. The rule of law was paramount in his political philosophy. No one was above the law, a belief that, if followed, would keep the people safe from the power of an overextended government.

During the 1920s, the continent of Europe experimented with socialism. What might larger government be able to accomplish? What vistas await us once we unleash the full power of government intervention? Coolidge stood opposed to this false vision of the future.

Historians also like to make fun of his approach to speechmaking. Coolidge preferred to say as little as possible. As he once noted, he never got in trouble for things he didn’t say. Yet when he did speak, he made some very significant pronouncements. His words conveyed key ideas for American success. Meditate on this paragraph, for instance:

Calvin Coolidge

In a free republic a great government is the product of a great people. They will look to themselves rather than government for success. The destiny, the greatness of America lies around the hearthstone. If thrift and industry are taught there, and the example of self-sacrifice oft appears, if honor abide there, and high ideals, if there the building of fortune be subordinate to the building of character, America will live in security, rejoicing in an abundant prosperity and good government at home and in peace, respect, and confidence abroad. If these virtues be absent there is no power that can supply these blessings. Look well then to the hearthstone, therein all hope for America lies.

Notice Coolidge’s stress on what he called the “hearthstone,” which is a designation for the family. He saw the family as the cornerstone of  society, the place where character should be developed. Note also his subordination of financial fortune to the building of character. Fortune may come, but only if character comes first: thrift, industry, and honor—qualities in short supply at the moment.

America was prosperous during the Coolidge years. The Great Depression was just around the corner, but it didn’t occur as a result of Coolidge’s policies of tax cuts and economic liberty. The Depression was more a result of misdirection from the Federal Reserve [low cash reserves in banks; easy credit]; its continuation throughout the 1930s was due to government actions of the New Deal.

If there’s one thing most historians can agree on with Coolidge, it’s that he easily would have won reelection in 1928 had he chosen to run again. Yet he voluntarily stood down. Why? What prompted that decision? He tells us what led him to do so in his autobiography.

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exultation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.

Coolidge saw the problems associated with elected office. He knew that men often developed what might be called the “swelled-head syndrome.” He wanted nothing to do with that. If for no other reason, Coolidge should be honored for his willingness to set aside power and maintain his good character. Where are the politicians willing to do that today?

Coolidge’s thoughts on self-delusion mirror’s our critique of leftist academia and the political class that we have stated here at IUSB Vision, “they pat each other on the back and tell each other how brilliant they are….and after all it MUST be true because all of these PhD. types tell them so. Invariably this environment brings you to a point where you start to believe it. You internalize it and eventually you stop challenging your own assumptions. The end result is an atrophied thinking process”. The result as I have been telling people who are willing to listen for several years is self-delusion.

2 Responses to “In Honor of Calvin Coolidge, A Great President Few Remember.”

  1. Jim Cooke said

    Great article! If you are looking for books on Coolidge — you might begin with his 1929 Autobiography. Increasingly, Coolidge’s post-presidential prose is seen as second only to Ulysses S. Grant who had Mark Twain for editor. William Allen White in his “Puritan in Babylon” originated many if not most of the errors and misconceptions about President Coolidge. Mr. White, I think, was sucking up to FDR because his “Puritan” contradicts what he had previously written. White didn’t “need a weather man to tell which way the wind blows.” John Derbyshire’s “Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream” (1996) is fiction but factual in all its many details on Silent Cal.

    It is wrong to view CC as a foe of the progressives. Compare his record as governor of Massachusetts with that of Governor Al Smith in New York. Can you see any difference? As president, Coolidge maintained that — just because something ought to be done — it doesn’t follow that the government should do it. Progressives of the Coolidge era bear slight resemblance to any progressive, today. Likewise: Compared to Coolidge, all contemporary Republicans are a herd of RINOs.

    In passing, it should be noted the portrait of Calvin Coolidge that hung in President Reagan’s Cabinet Room required no “dusting”. The portrait was borrowed from the American Antiquarian Society where habits of good-housekeeping are still practiced. When President Reagan rode into his sunset the portrait — by Frank O. Salisbury — was returned to Antiquarian Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. In retirement, Coolidge had served as president of the Society. You can see his portrait there, today.

    [Thanks for the info! – Editor]

  2. nash naden said

    you could of had a little more details but a good topic to remmember.my sister is doing a autobiography page for calvin coolidge and we were looking for his acheivements during his presidenty and i wish you could add some more details and topics.if you would it will be appereiceated.

    sinceraly;

    nash lee naden

    tonkawa,OK

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