Skip to main content

Wisdom from President Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge, a native of Vermont who made his name in Massachusetts, served as president of the U.S. from 1923 to 1929, implementing transformative tax cuts and reducing the national debt.

Thanks to Coolidge's policies, by 1927, 98% of Americans didn't pay income taxes.

President Calvin Coolidge

Coolidge's good works turbocharged the American private sector, but he lacked monumental accomplishments and therefore is not a household name. According to a Rutgers professor, "scholarly opinion looks upon the Coolidge presidency with skepticism, ranking him relatively low among American chief executives in terms of his administration's positive impact and legacy."

However, despite the forces minimizing his accomplishments, Coolidge bestowed onto the American people great wisdom, encapsulated in his meticulous writings and public statements. Here are several of his most choice quotes, as relayed by David Pietrusza in Calvin Coolidge on The Founders: Reflections on the American Revolution & the Founding Fathers:

  • "The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country."
  • "It is very difficult to reconcile the American ideal of a sovereign people capable of owning and managing their own government with an inability to own and manage their own business."
  • "We too too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the Government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong."
  • "The Federal Government ought to resist the tendency to be loaded up with duties which the States should perform."
  • "Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberty, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government."
  • "It was because religion gave the people a new importance and a new glory that they demanded a new freedom and a new government. We cannot in our generation reject the cause and retain the result."
  • "I want to see the policy adopted by the States of discharging their public relations so faithfully that instead of an extension on the part of the Federal Government there can be a contraction."
  • "The States should not be induced by coercion or by favor to surrender the management of their own affairs."
  • "It does not follow that because some thing ought to be done the National Government ought to do it."

As you can see, Coolidge mastered the English language, and he used it effectively to convey his opposition to encroachment by the federal government.

If you are interested in reading more of Coolidge's wisdom, I would suggest Pietrusza's Calvin Coolidge on The Founders as well as his other book, Silent Cal's Almanack: The Homespun Wit and Wisdom of Vermont's Calvin Coolidge.