Tags: President | Calvin Coolidge | Popularity | Persistence

Calvin Coolidge, Persistence Quote Aside, Left Presidency With Lagging Popularity

Image: Calvin Coolidge, Persistence Quote Aside, Left Presidency With Lagging Popularity
30th President of the United States of America Calvin Collidge. (Landov)

By    |   Monday, 18 Aug 2014 04:50 PM

No two U.S. presidents could be more un-alike than Lyndon B. Johnson and Calvin Coolidge, one a brash liberal politician from Texas and the other a mild-mannered conservative New Englander dubbed "Silent Cal" and well known for his view on persistence.

But the two share one thing in common: Both had an opportunity to seek another term in the White House, and both chose not to run.

Historians don't rank Coolidge very highly among American presidents. Beginning with a poll in 1948, he was ranked No. 23 out of 29. A Siena College poll in 1982 had him 30th out of 39, and another in 2010 had him No. 29 out of 43. In 17 polls of presidential scholars since 1948, his average position is 31st.

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But conservatives rate him more highly due to his fiscal policies of lower taxes and small government, and Ronald Reagan regarded him as his favorite 20th century president. President Reagan even cited Coolidge's handling of striking Boston policemen when he fired striking air traffic controllers in 1981.

Born in small-town Vermont, Coolidge moved to Massachusetts after graduating from law school and held a variety of public offices — city councilman, city solicitor, state representative, mayor, state senator, lieutenant governor, and beginning in 1918, governor of Massachusetts.

In September 1919, three-quarters of Boston policemen went on strike, leading to sporadic violence and rioting in the virtually lawless city. Coolidge responded by calling up units of the National Guard, taking personal control of the police force, and firing all striking police officers.

When labor leader Samuel Gompers sought to justify the strike, Coolidge sent Gompers a telegram stating: "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time."

Coolidge's decisive actions brought him national attention as a strict enforcer of law and order, and he was chosen by the GOP as the party's vice presidential candidate in the 1920 election, running with Warren Harding. Interestingly, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate was Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Republican ticket won in a landslide.

Harding died suddenly in August 1923, and Coolidge was sworn in as the nation's 30th president. He quickly restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of the Harding administration.

In December 1923, Coolidge became the first to deliver a presidential speech that was broadcast over the radio.

In his first term, Coolidge lowered the top marginal tax rate from 58 percent to 46 percent, and he was easily elected to a full term in 1924.

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"Under Coolidge, the top income tax rate came down by half," and "the federal budget was always in surplus," wrote The New American's Jack Kenny. "Unemployment was 5 percent or even 3 percent.

"Under Coolidge, the rates of patent applications and patents granted increased dramatically" and "Ku Klux Klan membership dropped by millions.

"Not bad for a man critics have derided for decades as a 'do-nothing president.'"

Coolidge spoke in favor of African-American civil rights, and signed a bill granting U.S. citizenship to Native Americans.

He was also a strong proponent of persistence.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence,” Coolidge famously said, although some have questioned whether or not it was actually his quote. “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.”

Despite his stance on persistence, he was not afraid to bow out of the presidency.

He was on a summer vacation in 1927 when he made the surprising announcement that he would not seek a second full term as president, stating simply: "I do not choose to run for president in 1928," adding later that the office of president "takes a heavy toll of those who occupy it and those who are dear to them."

LBJ pulled out of a re-election campaign in March 1968 after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary.

Republicans did hold on to the White House in the 1928 election, with Herbert Hoover succeeding Coolidge.

Coolidge returned to New England, wrote his autobiography, and died in January 1933.
Coolidge biographer Amity Shlaes told the Daily Caller: "Coolidge is forgotten because his sort of economics is forgotten. We haven't taught stability, or hard money, or small state econ since before World War II."

Shlaes thinks Coolidge should be ranked in the Top 10 among American presidents.

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No two U.S. presidents could be more un-alike than Lyndon B. Johnson and Calvin Coolidge, one a brash liberal politician from Texas and the other a mild-mannered conservative New Englander dubbed "Silent Cal" and well known for his view on persistence.
President, Calvin Coolidge, Popularity, Persistence
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2014-50-18
Monday, 18 Aug 2014 04:50 PM
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