Calvin Coolidge received chickens as a gift while in the White House. He ordered the birds be kept in a patch of mint left by TR. Ike Hoover, chief usher, reports in his memoirs that the chicken dinners that resulted were indeed minty.
Dennis Prager recently had an interesting segment about Calvin Coolidge on his show. Go to this link and scroll down or search “Coolidge” to find the recording of the segment.
As Americans prepare to go to the polls next week, we might consider Coolidge’s thoughts on voting. Here’s a selection from his November 3, 1924 radio address on the duties of citizenship:
We are always confronted with the question of whether we wish to be ruled by all the people or a part of the people, by the minority or the majority; whether we wish our elections to be dominated by those who have been misled, through the presentation of half truths, into the formation of hasty, illogical and unsound conclusions; or whether we wish those to determine the course of our Government who have through due deliberation and careful consideration of all the factors involved reached a sound and mature conclusion. We shall always have with us an element of discontent, an element inspired with more zeal than knowledge. They will always be active and energetic, and they seldom fail to vote on election day. But the people at large in this country are not represented by them. They are greatly in the minority. But their number is large enough to be a decisive factor in many elections, unless it is offset by the sober second thought of the people who have something at stake, whether it be earnings from in vestment or from employment, who are considering not only their own welfare, but the welfare of their children and of coming generations. Our institutions never contemplated that the conduct of this country, the direction of its affairs, the adoption of its policies, the maintenance of its principles, should be decided by a minority moved in part by self-interest and prejudice. They were framed on the theory that decisions would be made by the great body of voters inspired by patriotic motives. Faith in the people does not mean faith in a part of the people. It means faith in all the people. Our country is always safe when decisions are made by a majority of those who are entitled to vote. It is always in peril when decisions are made by a minority.
via Calvin Coolidge: Radio Address from the White House on the Duties of Citizenship, November 3, 1924.
Incidentally, the slideshow at the top of this post shows Calvin and Grace Coolidge completing their absentee ballots for the 1924 election. All photos are courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
From Coolidge’s remarks to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City, October 26, 1924:
Nothing is finer than the open hand and the generous heart that’s prompt free and unselfish giving. But modern social science knows, also, that ill directed charity is often directly responsible for encouragement of pauperism and mendicancy. The best service we can do for the needy and the unfortunate is to help them in such manner that their self respect, their ability to help themselves, shall not be injured but augmented. Nobody is necessarily out merely because he is down. But, being down, nobody gets up again without honest effort of his own. The best help that benevolence and philanthropy can give is that which induces everybody to help himself.
Last week, I blogged a snippet from the August 3 Coolidge event at the Library of Congress. I finally located video for the full session, so here’s a link (for those of you who didn’t find it faster than this slowpoke).
Judge Learned Hand
On my personal blog (which I’ve just resurrected after losing ALL of my old posts in a server meltdown), I’ve posted a short item on Google’s now-famous tax avoidance activities.
Which is all neither here nor there, in Coolidge terms, except that I included a quotation from Judge Learned Hand, a Coolidge appointee and one of the most sensible people ever to talk about the murky morality of tax paying and tax avoidance. As Hand wrote in 1947:
“There is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands. Taxes are enforced exactions not voluntary contributions, to demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.”
According to Joshua Spivak at Reuters, Coolidge has yet another (almost unique) claim to fame:
“Only two mayors have ever been elected president – Grover Cleveland of Buffalo and Calvin Coolidge of Northampton.”
Is this true? Hard to believe. Teddy Roosevelt certainly ran for mayor of New York (he placed third, I think), and he famously served as the city’s police commissioner.
C-Span has posted a short clip from the August 3 Coolidge event at the Library of Congress. Organized to mark the publication of Why Coolidge Matters, the event doesn’t seem to be available in its entirety anywhere on the web (despite suggestions from the LOC press release that it will be.) But the clip is worth a quick look anyway.
Last week, we traveled to Washington, DC to examine President Calvin Coolidge’s appointment books, housed at the Library of Congress. These simple volumes – ordinary Standard Diaries, typical of the period - chronicle Coolidge’s activities, day by day.
Please take a look at some of our finds. To view them, click on the images to enlarge them.
Coolidge was sworn in as President, by his father, on August 3, 1923. Below, please find an image of the pages of his appointment book for August 6 and 7 of 1923.
Coolidge’s secretaries kept the appointment books, but Coolidge wrote in them too. Do you think that Coolidge may have written any of the text on these pages?
Although the moniker “Silent Cal” suggests otherwise, Coolidge made it a point to meet regularly with the Washington press corps – just take a look at his noon appointment on September 4, 1923.
Of course, he didn’t only meet with newswriters; Coolidge also met with newsmakers.