Tags: Presidential History | calvin coolidge wartime | highlights | quotes | speeches

Calvin Coolidge Wartime Address Highlights: 7 Quotes From Speech

By    |   Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:38 PM

Although Calvin Coolidge was not president when the United States was formally at war, he presided over part of America’s involvement in post-World War I Europe and a military “intervention” in Nicaragua.

Here are seven quotes from speeches he made on the subject of the country in and after wars:

1. “Everyone knows that it was our resources that saved Europe from a complete collapse immediately following the armistice. Without the benefit of our credit an appalling famine would have prevailed over great areas. In accordance with the light of all past history, disorder and revolution, with the utter breaking down of all legal restraints and the loosing of all the passions which had been aroused by four years of conflict, would have rapidly followed. Others did what they could, and no doubt made larger proportionate sacrifices, but it was the credits and food which we supplied that saved the situation.”
– Speaking in 1925 to the New York Chamber of Commerce on the “spirituality of commerce."

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2. In light of subsequent events, this snippet from the same New York Chamber speech looks more wishful than factual: “When Germany sought to establish a sound fiscal condition, we again contributed a large portion of the necessary gold loan. Without this, the reparations plan would have utterly failed. Germany could not otherwise have paid. The armies of occupation would have gone on increasing international irritation and ill will.”

3. Justifying U.S. sending gunboats and Marines to protect U.S. citizens and business interests in Nicaragua after a regime change, Coolidge gave a message to Congress in January 1927. Summing up, he said, “Manifestly, the relation of this government to the Nicaraguan situation and its policy in the existing emergency are determined by the facts which I have described. The proprietary rights of the United States in the Nicaraguan canal route, with the necessary implications growing out of it affecting the Panama Canal, together with the obligations flowing from the investments of all classes of our citizens in Nicaragua, place us in a position of peculiar responsibility.” – Congressional Record, Jan. 10, 1927.

4. Coolidge spoke during Decoration Day services in 1928 at the Gettysburg Battlefield.
Noting the United States had paid between $6 billion and $7 billion in “pensions and gratuities” to Civil War veterans up until then, he went into detail about the United States’ debt and benefits to its military veterans: “All the countries on earth in all their history, all put together, have not done as much for those who have fought in their behalf as our country alone has done in the past 50 years. Our appreciation and our devotion is evidenced by something more than tributes and monuments and yearly assemblages devoted to their praise.”

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5. Strong defense was important, Coolidge said at Gettysburg, but a strong economy was equally important: “A people which gives itself over to great armaments and military display runs great danger of creating within itself a quarrelsome war spirit. But these other elements of power, although their importance is usually ignored, by contributing to the happiness and contentment of the people, are important influences for peace.”

6. He also used his Gettysburg speech to support the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which the U.S. and France joined to reject war as an “instrument of policy” in international relations: “Not only has the idea of a multilateral treaty for the renunciation of war been endorsed by public opinion here and abroad but the governments themselves have approached the matter with an interest and a sympathy which is most encouraging.” – Gettysburg, May 30, 1928.

7. He used the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence to meld economic interests with the birth of a new kind of country:
“It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion they were largely economic. ... But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World.” – in Philadelphia, July 5, 1926.

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Although Calvin Coolidge was not president when the United States was formally at war, he presided over part of America's involvement in post-World War I Europe and a military "intervention" in Nicaragua.
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