Few know much about Calvin Coolidge. That’s a shame. Maybe this post will prompt some to look into him and his ideas.
As a very young boy I met one of his economic advisors, a very old man shortly before his death. He had come to the house to talk to me about things he wanted me to know about my father. It was a meeting I will never forget. I didn’t know it then, but it was something of a turning point for me and my father too.
On July 5th 1926 Cal gave a speech in honor of the Declaration of Independence’s 150th anniversary.
Some excerpts from it are here, (Courtesy of the Western Journal) the full speech is linked below them. A read well worth your time and effort, to get to know a great man, and some would say historical scapegoat…
Calvin Coolidge honored and believed fervently in the Declaration of Independence’s promise; that American society would be one in which life and the liberty to procure our individual happiness were fundamental, while it protected the inalienable rights of all. The Constitution certainly drew on these ideals. Both it and the Bill of Rights together sought to assure them…
“Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals … They belong to the unseen world.”
“Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments … their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government.”
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.”
“But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.”
“If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”
“Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
“No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people.”
“We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first.”
“Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism.”