The Coolidge Presidency at 100

WASHINGTON – How people understand history largely depends on who writes it and from what perspective.

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, has received what might be called a raw deal from historians like Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Henry Steele Commager, among others. They created a caricature of Coolidge that includes blaming him for the Great Depression, which began in 1929, the year after he left office. In fact, it was the policies of his successors, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt that turned an economic downturn into a 10-year disaster.

A symposium at the Library of Congress on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Coolidge’s ascension to the presidency aims to change that perception. ¬†As a relative of the Coolidge family, I was among those invited to speak.

Coolidge cut taxes because he wanted the people to “have more,” but as importantly, he radically reduced government spending. He took a knife to government agencies, believing that “The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. Under this Republic the rewards of industry belong to those who earn them.”

How odd that sounds in our era of

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