The thirtieth US president, Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) was the son of a New England shopkeeper. He graduated from Amherst College and started practicing law before moving into Massachusetts politics and being elected city mayor, state senator, lieutenant governor, and governor. He was elected as Warren Harding’s vice president in 1920, and became president upon Harding’s death in 1923. Coolidge was elected in his own right in 1924 and developed a personality as a laconic man of conservative political and personal disposition, earning the nickname “Silent Cal.”
Author: Calvin Coolidge
On May 30, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) offered this reflection on the meaning of Memorial Day at Arlington’s annual commemorations. By then, the Civil War had largely faded from living memory and the scars of another war, World War I, were quite fresh.
The Fourth of July, the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is annually celebrated as the birthday of the United States of America, marked for us with parades, marching bands, and fireworks. In earlier times, the day was also marked by specially prepared orations that commemorated our founding principles. A wonderful example of this at once celebratory and reflective genre can be found in the present selection, a speech that President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) delivered in 1926 in honor of the Declaration’s sesquicentennial.
In this speech, delivered to a delegation of labor leaders on September 1, 1924, President Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933) emphasizes the esteem Americans have for hard work and the dignity of honest labor. Coolidge was not commonly regarded as a friend of labor. While governor of Massachusetts in 1919, he had earned national attention for using the National Guard to break up a strike by the Boston police; and in a letter to Samuel Gompers, he justified his action thus: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” Yet in this speech as president, he celebrates both the American worker and the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit, and encourages American workers to become “independent masters of their own destiny.”