Calvin Coolidge

From The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge:

It is a great advantage to a President, and a great source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.  When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.

It would be exceedingly easy to set the country all by the ears and foment hatreds and jealousies, which, by destroying faith and confidence, would help nobody and harm everybody.  The end would be the destruction of all progress.

The only way I know to drive out evil from the country is by the constructive method of filling it with good.  The country is better off tranquilly considering its blessings and merits, and earnestly striving to secure more of them, than it would be in nursing hostile bitterness about its deficiencies and faults. 

Perhaps one of the reasons I have been the target for so little abuse is because I have tried to refrain from abusing other people.

 …the more I study [the Constitution] the more I have come to admire it, realizing that no other document devised by the hand of man ever brought so much progress and happiness to humanity.  The good it has wrought can never be measured.

 I know very well what it means to awake in the night and realize that the rent is coming due, wondering where the money is coming from with which to pay it.  The only way I know of escape from that constant tragedy is to keep running expenses low enough so that something may be saved to meet the day when earnings may be small.

What was needed was a restoration of confidence in our institutions and in each other, on which economic progress might rest.

Our productive capacity is sufficient to maintain us all in a state of prosperity if we give sufficient attention to thrift and industry.

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means.

Wealth comes from industry and from the hard experience of human toil.  To dissipate it in waste and extravagance is disloyalty to humanity.

 It has been my observation in life that, if one will only exercise the patience to wait, his wants are likely to be filled. 

If men do not follow the truth they cannot live.

The only hope of perfecting human relationship is in accordance with the law of service under which men are not so solicitous about what they shall get as they are about what they shall give.  Yet people are entitled to the rewards of their industry.  What they earn is theirs, no matter how small or how great.  But the possession of property carries the obligation to use it in a larger service.

Unless we live rationally we perish, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

…while I am not disposed to minimize the amount of evil in the world I am convinced that good predominates and that it is constantly all about us, ready for our service if only we will accept it. 

The right thing to do never requires any subterfuges, it is always simple and direct.

Fate bestows its rewards on those who put themselves in the proper attitude to receive them.

 If we keep our faith in ourselves, and what is even more important, keep our faith in regular and persistent application to hard work, we need not worry about the outcome.

… expediency as a working principle is bound to fail.

People […] must depend on themselves rather than on legislation for success.

Surprisingly few men are lacking in capacity, but they fail because they are lacking in application.  Either they never learn how to work, or, having learned, they are too indolent to apply themselves with the seriousness and the attention that is necessary to solve important problems.

Any reward that is worth having only comes to the industrious.  The success which is made in any walk of life is measured almost exactly by the amount of hard work that is put into it.

Our country does not believe in idleness.  It honors hard work.

 It is better not to press a candidacy too much, but to let it develop on its own merits without artificial stimulation.  If the people want a man they will nominate him, if they do not want him he had best let the nomination go to another.

There is no right to strike against the public safety by any body, any time, any where. 

Nothing is more dangerous to good government than great power in improper hands.

I have seen a great many attempts at political strategy in my day and elaborate plans made to encompass the destruction of this or that public man.  I cannot now think of any that did not react with overwhelming force upon the perpetrators, sometimes destroying them and sometimes giving their proposed victim an opportunity to demonstrate his courage, strength and soundness, which increased his standing with the people and raised him to higher office.  There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed.

[The political mind] is a strange mixture of vanity and timidity, of an obsequious attitude at one time and a delusion of grandeur at another time, of the most selfish preferment combined with the most sacrificing patriotism.  The political mind is the product of men in public life who have been twice spoiled.  They have been spoiled with praise and they have been spoiled with abuse.  With them nothing is natural, everything is artificial.  A few rare souls escape these influences and maintain a vision and a judgment that are unimpaired.  They are a great comfort to every President and a great service to their country.  But they are not sufficient in number so that the public business can be transacted like a private business.

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion.  They are always surrounded by worshipers.  They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.  They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment.  They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.

I shall always consider it the highest tribute to my administration that the opposition have based so little of their criticism on what I have really said and done.

I have often said that there was no cause for feeling disturbed by being misrepresented in the press.  It would only be when they began to say things detrimental to me which were true that I should feel alarm.

In the discharge of the duties of the office there is one rule of action more important than all others.  It consists in never doing anything that someone else can do for you.  […] it indicates a course that should be very strictly followed in order to prevent being so devoted to trifling details that there will be little opportunity to give the necessary consideration to policies of larger importance.

It was my desire to maintain about the White House as far as possible an attitude of simplicity and not engage in anything that had an air of pretentious display.  That was my conception of the great office.  It carries sufficient power within itself, so that it does not require any of the outward trappings of pomp and splendor for the purpose of creating an impression.  It has a dignity of its own which makes it self-sufficient.  Of course, there should be proper formality, and personal relations should be conducted at all times with decorum and dignity, and in accordance with the best traditions of polite society.  But there is no need of theatricals.

From Other Sources:

America seeks no empire built on blood and forces... she cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of almighty God.

Inaugural address, 1925

Our constitution has raised certain barriers against too hasty change.  I believe such provision is wise.  I doubt if there has been any change that has ever really been desired by the people which they have not been able to secure.  Stability of government is a very important asset.  If amendment is mead easy, both revolution and reaction, as well as orderly progress, also become easy. 

At the dedication of the a monument to Lafayette in Baltimore, Maryland, 1924

Whether one traces his Americanism back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years to the steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of today is real and genuine. 

Addressing the American Legion convention, Omaha, Nebraska, 1925

...the chief business of the American people is business. [...] [But] it is only those who do not understand our people, who believe that our national life is entirely absorbed by material motives. We make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth, but there are many other things that we want much more. We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization. 

Addressing the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1925

The centralization of power in Washington, which nearly all members of Congress deplore in their speech and then support by their votes, steadily increases. 

Calvin Coolidge Says, June 20, 1931

Civilization and profits go hand in hand. 

Speech following election as vice president, 1920

The government of the United States is a device for maintaining in perpetuity the rights of the people, with the ultimate extinction of all privileged classes. 

Address in Philadelphia, 1924

The people know the difference between pretense and reality.  They want to be told the truth.  They want to be trusted.  They want a chance to work out their own material and spiritual salvation.  The people want a government of common sense. 

Presidential nomination acceptance speech, 1924

It has always seemed to me that common sense is the real solvent for the nation’s problems at all times——common sense and hard work. 

Interview published in New York Sun, January 6, 1933

The light that first broke over the thirteen colonies lying along the Atlantic coast was destined to illuminate the world.

Address as lieutenant governor, 1916

Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.

Inaugural address

Do the day’s work.  If it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it.  If it be to help a powerful corporation to better serve the people, whatever the opposition, do that.  Expect to be called a standpatter, but don’t be a standpatter.  Expect to be called a demagogue, but don’t be a demagogue.

Inaugural address

Duty is not collective, it is personal.  Let every individual make known his determination to support law and order.  That duty is supreme. 

Gubernatorial campaign address, 1919

One of the greatest favors that can be bestowed upon the American people is economy in government. 

Recorded speech, 1924

The wise and correct course to follow in taxation and in all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a chance to be successful.

Inaugural address

There can be no political independence without economic independence. 

Accepting the vice presidential nomination

After order and liberty, economy is one of the highest essentials of a free government. 

Speech in Northampton, 1923

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people.  The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of government.  Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager.  Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant.  Economy is idealism in its most practical form.

Inaugural address

The school is not the end but only the beginning of an education.  Yet its place cannot be filled in any other way.

Calvin Coolidge Says, September 1, 1930

The best thing the millions of our youth can do to ensure their future success is to work faithfully at their studies.  That opportunity for improvement and discipline will never return. 

Calvin Coolidge Says, September 1, 1930

There are two things necessary for the enrichment of life, mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.  They are very simple and are known to all men.  One is hard work and the other is a determination to do right.

  Letter to H.W. Gibson, 1920

Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves.  We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love.  Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create.  Faith is the great motive power, and no man reaches his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is part of an unending plan. 

Address transmitted to delegation of Boy Scouts in New York, 1925

Ultimately nations, like individuals, cannot depend upon each other, but must depend upon themselves.  Each must work out its own salvation. 

Address to Congress, 1924

While we desire always to cooperate and to help, we are equally determined to be independent and free.  Right and truth and justice and humanitarian efforts will have the moral support of this country all over the world.  But we do not wish to become involved in the political controversies of others.

Address to Congress, 1924

I want the people of America to be able to work less for the Government and more for themselves.  I want them to have the rewards of their own industry.  That is the chief meaning of freedom.

speech accepting the presidential nomination

The meaning of America is not to be found in a life without toil.  Freedom is not only bought with a great price; it is maintained with unremitting effort. 

Speech at Johns Hopkins University, 1922

There is no greater service that we can render the oppressed of the earth than to maintain inviolate the freedom of our own citizens. 

Speech at Tremont Temple, Boston, 1918

We review that past not in order that we return to it but that we find in what direction, straight and clear, it points to the future. 

Speech in Burlington, Vermont, 1923

Government cannot relieve from toil.  It can provide no substitute for the rewards of service.  It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit.  The normal must care for themselves.  Self-government means self-support.

Inaugural address as president of the Massachusetts state senate

Can we still act on the principle that there is no sacrifice too great to maintain the right?  Shall we continue to advocate and practice thrift and industry?  Shall we require unswerving loyalty to our country?  These are the foundations of greatness. 

Inaugural address as governor of Massachusetts

My conception of public duty is to face each problem as though my entire record in life were to be judged by the way I handled it——to keep always in touch with the folks back home——to be firm for my honesty of opinion, but to recognize every man’s right to an honest difference of opinion.

Gubernatorial campaign newspaper ad, 1918

No person was every honored for what he received; honor has been received for what he gave. 

Vetoing a bill to raise the salaries of Massachusetts state legislators, 1919

We must realize that human nature is about the most constant thing in the universe and that the essentials of human relationships do not change.  We must frequently take our bearings from these fixed stars of our political firmament if we expect to hold a true course.

Inaugural address

Let justice and the economic laws be applied to the strong, but for the weak there must be mercy and charity; not the gratuity which pauperizes, but the assistance which restores.  That, too, is justice.

Addressing the Community Chest dinner, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1921

It is more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones...  See that the bills you recommend from your committee are worded so that they will do just what they intend and not a great deal more that is undesirable.  Most bills can’t stand that test. 

Letter to his father, 1910

Don’t hurry to legislate.

Inaugural address as president of the Massachusetts state senate

If we are too weak to take charge of our own morality, we shall not be strong enough to take charge of our own liberty.

Address at Arlington National Cemetery, May 30, 1925