Calvin Coolidge – One of Our Great Forgotten Presidents

By Teagan Fair | United States

When Americans talk of past presidents, they likely will mention a variety of popular names. These notably include Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, or even founders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But in the string of 45 presidents, Americans often forget some of them, even if they were good leaders. Specifically, many people overlook the great success of Calvin Coolidge.

Who is Calvin Coolidge?

Many Americans may be able to say Calvin Coolidge was a president, but not give much more information. A strong advocate for limited government, he was one of our country’s greatest figures of liberty. Unfortunately, though, his name often does not stand out in the history books.

To give some background, John Calvin Coolidge Jr. was born on Independence Day: July 4th, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. His parents were John Calvin Coolidge Sr. and Victoria Josephine Moor Coolidge. Sadly, his mother died tragically when he was just 12 years old. Coolidge attended Black River Academy and graduated in 1890 before attending Amherst College in Massachusetts. There, he studied law and graduated in 1895. Then, in 1898, he was elected to the city council in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was later a mayor, a congressman, a senator, and a lieutenant governor.

Coolidge became the governor of Massachusetts in 1918, and during the 1920 presidential elections, Coolidge was the vice presidential candidate to Warren G. Harding. The pair won the election and took office in March of 1921. However, events quickly took a turn when Harding died of a heart attack in 1923. This put Coolidge into the position of president. During his time as president, many knew him for his honesty, integrity, and his quiet, mellow demeanor. Because of this, he earned the nickname, “Silent Cal”. He ran for president again in 1924 and won.

What Made Him Stand Out?

Calvin Coolidge was a fiscal conservative and often receives credit for the prosperity in the Roaring ’20s. He was strongly against government intervention. As a matter of fact, some critics labeled him as a “do-nothing president.” This means that he tried to keep the government out of the economy as much as possible. Instead, he was an advocate of the free market.

Coolidge also despised taxes. A famous quote from him says, “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.” It appeared that Coolidge truly lived up to this quote and saw it as a key duty to keep taxes to a bare minimum. In 1924, he signed the Revenue Act, which reduced the number of citizens paying tax and lowered tax rates.

An Early Voice for Equality

Moreover, Coolidge was a Civil Rights activist. For example, he was a strong advocate for laws against lynchings. Unfortunately, Southern Democrats blocked his bills in this area. However, Coolidge was sure not to appoint any members of the Ku Klux Klan to federal positions. In fact, the domestic terror group lost most of its influence during his presidency.

Additionally, in his 1924 commencement address at Howard University, Calvin references the African-American soldiers that fought in World War One, which had ended just six years earlier. His speech includes the following:

“The colored people have repeatedly proved their devotion to the high ideals of our country. They gave their services in the war with the same patriotism and readiness that other citizens did. The propaganda of prejudice and hatred which sought to keep the colored men from supporting the national cause completely failed. The black man showed himself the same kind of citizen, moved by the same kind of patriotism, as the white man.”

He also signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted American citizenship to all people of native origin who were born in the United States. It was an attempt to help Native Americans assimilate into American culture while still being able to retain some of their native traditions. The legislation furthermore stated that the granting of such citizenship shall not in any way prohibit the right of any Indian to property. In 1925, Calvin invited a group from the Sioux tribe, specifically from the Rosebud Reservation, to the White House. In 1927, he accepted tribal membership from Sioux Tribe Chief Henry Standing Bear.

A Figure of Liberty

“Keep Cool And Keep Coolidge” was the motto for freedom-loving Calvin Coolidge. To sum it up, Coolidge protected and fought for both economic and social liberties. Coolidge didn’t want the government to mess with the lives of citizens, believing it should leave people alone. Advocating both fiscal and social liberties is quite similar, in fact, to modern libertarianism.

Coolidge ran Republican, but clearly, parties have changed drastically since the ’20s. Regardless of this man’s label, he brought liberty and prosperity to the early years of the American 20th Century. A symbol of American liberty, Silent Cal will live on in the history books as President during a prosperous time in our history.

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