Ironic that the president who has the reputation for being the most taciturn man to ever occupy the White House is also the first president to ever appear in a “talkie” in the above video.
Coolidge is a fascinating man and in future posts I will have much more to say about him. One fact I will note now is that he was ever a friend of Irish Catholics in his home state of Massachusetts and fought against the discrimination they frequently endured. Most Irish Catholics were Democrats, but that did not stop Coolidge from standing up for them. As mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts he developed a life long friendship with Father Joseph Gordian Daley who shared Coolidge’s love of Latin and Greek. Coolidge helped Father Daley build a mission church in Northampton. There was a great deal of compassion to this dry, unemotional Yankee.
It is not a myth that Coolidge was tight-lipped. The archetypal example is when a young lady encountered him at a White House reception and said that she had bet a friend of hers that she could get him to speak three words to her. “You lose” was Coolidge’s terse response. As the video indicates Coolidge was not a scintillating speaker, droning monotone being a better description. However, in his writings Coolidge indicates that lack of verbal expression did not indicate a lack of thoughts on the issues of his day, and many of which are quite relevant to our day:
There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.
I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.
If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
We live in an age of science and abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create the Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all of our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage bequeathed to us, we must be like minded as the Founders who created. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had and for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.
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 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.
Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.
The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.
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 must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.
Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.
We do not need more intellectual power; we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge; we need more character. We do not need more government; we need more culture. We do not need more law; we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen; we need more of the things that are unseen.