America's 30th president has been largely ignored by historians.
Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office in August 1923, after the death of
President Warren Harding. Elected in his own right the following year,
Coolidge left office in 1929.
Now, his legacy is being revisited in a new book that suggests
Coolidge's world view can be applied to modern politics and life.
Calvin Coolidge is not a well-known president.
What most Americans know of him is limited to his nickname - Silent Cal.
He was reserved, introspective and often seemed uncomfortable at social
events. But this man of few words got a lot accomplished as president.
He reduced taxes, lowered federal spending, signed a bill granting full
citizenship to native Americans and limited immigration. He also made
himself available to lawmakers and reporters - a novelty in the early
20th century, says Jim Douglas, government of Vermont.
"Coolidge had breakfast meetings with the members of Congress," he says.
"He had a press conference on average every four days."
Douglas is one of the 21 politicians, journalists, activists and
thinkers who contributed their thoughts to "Why Coolidge Matters," a
collection of essays about the 30th president.
In his essay, the governor highlights how Coolidge reflected the
character and values of Vermont, where he was born and raised. Calvin
Coolidge inspires him.
"There are really two ways: one is his commitment to fiscal integrity,
to reducing debt, to balancing the budget, to lowering taxes, something
we did in Vermont in our legislative session this year," says Douglas.
"Secondly, I take from the Coolidge legacy the values of civility,
integrity, honesty, straightforwardness, of communicating in a
transparent way with the people he served and on a frequent basis."
Other contributors to "Why Coolidge Matters" include former
Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, presidential scholar Peter
Schramm and U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Coolidge's great grandson, Christopher Coolidge Jeter, is pleased his
great grandfather's legacy is being revisited.
think it's great that folks are taking a second look at Coolidge. I
think sometimes he gets a short shrift in the historians' perspective
because there were not any great crises or wars that occurred during his
tenure," says Jeter. "But I think, when we reexamine his character,
values and strong moral beliefs, that there is a lot that can be learned
and applied to today's world."
Jeter believes Coolidge was a true public servant. He held more public
offices than any other president and supported many reforms including
women's suffrage and tax cuts. He was a fine writer who not only wrote
his own speeches, but also an autobiography. On a personal level, Jeter
says he learned the importance of being financially rational from his
"Coolidge had a great quote of, 'There is no dignity quite so impressive
as living within your means.' I tried to achieve that myself, and
hopefully that's something I think the nation can take a cue from as