Thursday, December 2, 2010
Nickname: Silent Cal
Now tired of corruption, the U.S. public needed someone who was going to lead them in the right direction. Calvin Coolidge, or Silent Cal, as he was called for his quiet personality, was determined to do that for America, but with doing as little as possible. His straightforward reserve was popular with the American public, but most people today can’t figure out why anyone liked him. Coolidge was a strictly small government man. The government was to stay out of everyone’s business…literally. As farms nationwide suffered financial crises, he vetoed bills to send them aid. He also opposed a bill that provided WWI vets with bonuses, and he cut taxes dramatically to shrink the size of government coffers. Coolidge also failed to take any steps to rein in the massive stock speculation that helped bring on the Great Depression. Although he was warned about the danger of this sort of speculation, Coolidge scrupulously noted that as president, he had no direct authority over Wall Street. Although, he could have used his influence to request the Federal Reserve Board to tighten regulations, he chose not to do so. So, when people say that Hoover caused the Great Depression, they are wrong.
Coolidge did do some good. He passed the Air Commerce Act, which required that all airplane pilots and aircraft be registered. In addition to this, the Federal Radio Commission was founded to regulate the radio industry. Coolidge conveniently left the presidency when the crash happened and people looked to the next president to make things better.
Coolidge did do a very small amount in his six years as president. He kept the government out of everything, which is what he said he would do, so he was more honest than Harding. The fact that Coolidge turned his back on his citizens when they needed his help, just so he could keep the government small makes him a bad president in my book.
Coolidge’s penchant for silence was well known. During a party, a guest went up to Coolidge and said that he bet he could get him to say more than two words. Coolidge replied, “You lose.”