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Over on Twitter Jeet Heer Demands Some Calvin Coolidge Blogging...

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Appropriately for Silent Cal, there ain't all that much to say. Coolidge did little, and what he did was largely harmful to America. Remember that for Calvin Coolidge America's biggest problem was that it had too many Jews, too many Italians, too many Slavs. Of all the disasters inflicted by American governmental policies on human welfare in the twentieth century, Calvin Coolidge's immigration policy seems to me to win the prize:

IMMIGRATION…. New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this i purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration…. I am convinced that our present economic and social conditions warrant a limitation of those to be admitted…. Those who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought not to settle in America

It is closely followed, perhaps, by his financial regulatory policy:

Frederick Lewis Allen: Only Yesterday: The bull party in Wall Street had been still further encouraged by the remarkable solicitude of President Coolidge and Secretary Mellon, who whenever confidence showed signs of waning came out with opportunely reassuring statements which at once sent prices upward again. In January 1928, the President had actually taken the altogether unprecedented step of publicly stating that he did not consider brokers' loans too high, thus apparently giving White House sponsorship to the very inflation which was worrying the sober minds of the financial community.

He was, at least, strongly in favor of the International Criminal Court.

Calvin Coolidge:

Since the close of the last Congress the Nation has lost President Harding. The world knew his kindness and his humanity, his greatness and his character. He has left his mark upon history. He has made justice more certain and peace more secure. The surpassing tribute paid to his memory as he was borne across the continent to rest at last at home revealed the place he held in the hearts of the American people…. He is gone. We remain. It is our duty, under the inspiration of his example, to take up the burdens which he was permitted to lay down, and to develop and support the wise principles of government which he represented.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS…. Our country has one cardinal principle to maintain…. We realize the common bond of humanity. We know the inescapable law of service. Our country has definitely refused to adopt and ratify the covenant of the League of Nations. We have not felt warranted in assuming the responsibilities which its members have assumed. I am not proposing any change in this policy; neither is the Senate. The incident, so far as we are concerned, is closed….

WORLD COURT…. For nearly 25 years we have been a member of The Hague Tribunal, and have long sought the creation of a permanent World Court of Justice. I am in full accord with both of these policies. I favor the establishment of such a court intended to include the whole world. That is, and has long been, an American policy….

RUSSIA… presents notable difficulties…. Our Government offers no objection to the carrying on of commerce by our citizens with the people of Russia. Our Government does not propose, however, to enter into relations with another regime which refuses to recognize the sanctity of international obligations….

DEBTS The current debt and interest due from foreign Governments, exclusive of the British debt of $4,600,000,000, is about $7,200,000,000. I do not favor the cancellation of this debt, but I see no objection to adjusting it in accordance with the principle adopted for the British debt…. [F]inancial obligations between nations are likewise moral obligations which international faith and honor require should be discharged…. That we are making sacrifices to that end none can deny. Our deferred interest alone amounts to a million dollars every day….

FISCAL CONDITION Financial stability is the first requisite of sound government…. For seven years the people have borne with uncomplaining courage the tremendous burden of national and local taxation. These must both be reduced…. Another reform which is urgent in our fiscal system is the abolition of the right to issue tax-exempt securities. The existing system not only permits a large amount of the wealth of the Notion to escape its just burden but acts as a continual stimulant to municipal extravagance. This should be prohibited by constitutional amendment. All the wealth of the Nation ought to contribute its fair share to the expenses of the Nation.

TARIFF LAW: The present tariff law… has secured an abundant revenue and been productive of an abounding prosperity…. [W]henever the required investigation shows that inequalities of sufficient importance exist in any schedule, the power to change them should and will be applied….

PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS: The time has come to resume in a moderate way the opening of our intracoastal waterways; the control of flood waters of the Mississippi and of the Colorado Rivers; the improvement of the waterways from the Great Lakes toward the Gulf of Mexico; and the development of the great power and navigation project of the St. Lawrence River, for which efforts are now being made to secure the necessary treaty with Canada. These projects can not all be undertaken at once, but all should have the immediate consideration…. [T]heir nature does not require so much a public expenditure as a capital investment which will be reproductive, as evidenced by the marked increase in revenue from the Panama Canal. Upon these projects depend much future industrial and agricultural progress….

RAILROADS…. It has been erroneously assumed that the act undertakes to guarantee railroad earnings. The law requires that rates should be just and reasonable. That has always been the rule under which rates have been fixed. To make a rate that does not yield a fair return results in confiscation, and confiscatory rates are of course unconstitutional. Unless the Government adheres to the rule of making a rate that will yield a fair return, it must abandon rate making altogether. The new and important feature of that part of the law is the recapture and redistribution of excess rates. The constitutionality of this method is now before the Supreme Court for adjudication. Their decision should be awaited before attempting further legislation on this subject….

PROHIBITION: The prohibition amendment to the Constitution requires the Congress. and the President to provide adequate laws to prevent its violation. It is my duty to enforce such laws…. Free government has no greater menace than disrespect for authority and continual violation of law. It is the duty of a citizen not only to observe the law but to let it be known that he is opposed to its violation.

THE NEGRO: Numbered among our population are some 12,000,000 colored people. Under our Constitution their rights are just as sacred as those of any other citizen. It is both a public and a private duty to protect those rights. The Congress ought to exercise all its powers of prevention and punishment against the hideous crime of lynching, of which the negroes are by no means the sole sufferers, but for which they furnish a majority of the victims…. On account of the integration of large numbers into industrial centers, it has been proposed that a commission be created… to formulate a better policy for mutual understanding and confidence…. But it is well to recognize that these difficulties are to a large extent local problems which must be worked out by the mutual forbearance and human kindness of each community. Such a method gives much more promise of a real remedy than outside interference….

EDUCATION AND WELFARE: Our National Government is not doing as much as it legitimately can do to promote the welfare of the people…. This is not a suggestion that the Government should, or could, assume for the people the inevitable burdens of existence. There is no method by which we can either be relieved of the results of our own folly or be guaranteed a successful life. There is an inescapable personal responsibility for the development of character, of industry, of thrift, and of self-control…. Having in mind that education is peculiarly a local problem, and that it should always be pursued with the largest freedom of choice by students and parents, nevertheless, the Federal Government might well give the benefit of its counsel and encouragement…. [T]he appalling figures of illiteracy representing a condition which does not vary much in all parts of the Union…. I do consider it a fundamental requirement of national activity… worthy of a separate department and a place in the Cabinet….

IMMIGRATION…. New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this i purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration…. I am convinced that our present economic and social conditions warrant a limitation of those to be admitted…. Those who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought not to settle in America.

VETERANS: No more important duty falls on the Government of the United States than the adequate care of its veterans…. The American Legion will present to the Congress a legislative program too extensive for detailed discussion here. It is a carefully matured plan. While some of it I do not favor, with much of it I am in hearty accord, and I recommend that a most painstaking effort be made to provide remedies for any defects in the administration of the present laws which their experience has revealed. The attitude of the Government toward these proposals should be one of generosity. But I do not favor the granting of a bonus.

COAL: The cost of coal has become unbearably high. It places a great burden on our industrial and domestic life. The public welfare requires a reduction in the price of fuel. With the enormous deposits in existence, failure of supply ought not to be tolerated. Those responsible for the conditions in this industry should undertake its reform and free it from any charge of profiteering…. Those who undertake the responsibility of management or employment in this industry do so with the full knowledge that the public interest is paramount, and that to fail through any motive of selfishness in its service is such a betrayal of duty as warrants uncompromising action by the Government….

AGRICULTURE…. [D]istress is most acute among those wholly dependent upon one crop. Wheat acreage was greatly expanded and has not yet been sufficiently reduced. A large amount is raised for export, which has to meet the competition in the world market of large amounts raised on land much cheaper and much more productive…. [T]he farmer must be relieved by a reduction of national and local taxation. He must be assisted by the reorganization of the freight-rate structure which could reduce charges on his production. To make this fully effective there ought to be railroad consolidations. Cheaper fertilizers must be provided….

HIGHWAYS AND FORESTS…. Everyone is anxious for good highways. I have made a liberal proposal in the Budget for the continuing payment to the States by the Federal Government of its share for this necessary public improvement. No expenditure of public money contributes so much to the national wealth as for building good roads….

CONCLUSION: It is 100 years since our country announced the Monroe doctrine. This principle has been ever since, and is now, one of the main foundations of our foreign relations. It must be maintained. But in maintaining it we must not be forgetful that a great change has taken place. We are no longer a weak Nation, thinking mainly of defense, dreading foreign imposition. We are great and powerful. New powers bring new responsibilities. Our ditty then was to protect ourselves. Added to that, our duty now is to help give stability to. the world. We want idealism. We want that vision which lifts men and nations above themselves. These are virtues by reason of their own merit. But they must not be cloistered; they must not be impractical; they must not be ineffective.

The world has had enough of the curse of hatred and selfishness, of destruction and war. It has had enough of the wrongful use of material power. For the healing of the nations there must be good will and charity, confidence and peace. The time has come for a more practical use of moral power, and more reliance upon the principle that right makes its own might. Our authority among the nations must be represented by justice and mercy. It is necessary not only to have faith, but to make sacrifices for our faith. The spiritual forces of the world make all its final determinations. It is with these voices that America should speak. Whenever they declare a righteous purpose there need be no doubt that they will be heard. America has taken her place in the world as a Republic--free, independent, powerful. The best service that can be rendered to humanity is the assurance that this place will be maintained.

Citation: Calvin Coolidge: "First Annual Message," December 6, 1923. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=29564.

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