Coolidge: A Survey

  1. Coolidge: A Survey

It was toward the end of an October afternoon that, after passing through a square entrance hall and traversing a spacious, silent corridor, I was ushered into the Chief Executive’s office at the White House. President Coolidge sat alone at the Presidential desk. His back was to the windows that look out over the rear grounds of the Executive Mansion in the direction of the Potomac. Neat, quiet, dignified, medium-sized the figure; serious, even sad, the clear-cut, clean-shaven, intellectual face, with its blue-gray eyes, its prominent forehead and its flat-lying frame of straight, flaxen hair, tinged with red.

Stir and sound—the stir and sound of the White House day—were over. Two or three young newspaper men lounged, chatting in low tones, in the square entrance hall. About the inner corridors an occasional colored servant moved noiselessly. Outside the President’s room, itself strangely muffled, the slanting rays of the sun, flooding out of the West over fall-tinted foliage, threw heavy masses of shadow on the close-clipped lawn.

President Coolidge was dressed in a well-fitting blue sack suit. His welcome was restrained, but kindly, a faint smile lightening his refined features as he rose to shake hands. (It was understood that the President was not to be interviewed; he declined to transgress the White House tradition of no direct quotation of the Chief Magistrate.) One is struck instantly by Mr. Coolidge’s self-possession. He makes no gestures, does not fidget, looks steadily into one’s eyes, is almost disconcertingly intent.

Intent, Self‑Possessed Executive.

His voice, though it has a marked twang, is not harsh; there is nothing harsh about the man, despite the inflexible will that many an opponent has found behind his delicate exterior. His words are simple, his sentences crisp—when he stops thinking long enough to speak. His facial expression is naturally pleasant, but his smiles seem even rarer than his words. During our entire converstation, after the greeting, he smiled once. It was when I reminded him of something John W. Davis had said to me—namely, that Republicans, as men of talent, are relatively grasping, while Democrats, as men of genius, are relative generous.

“Interesting,” said Mr. Coolidge, clearly amused.

A pause.

“But I don’t know what he means.”

One had heard much of the President’s analytical mind, of his industry and thoroughness, of his business-like methods. I looked at his desk. It was covered with papers. There were many different kinds and sizes. But there was no disorder. All appeared to be perfectly classified and arranged, and one easily could imagine that singularly clam man and that singularly clear mind dealing with them swiftly. And then there was the striking fact of the President’s coolness and freshness after the tumult of the White House day—after the countless conferences and close labor of many White House days—coupled with the further fact that we sat alone, talking undisturbed, as if the anxieties and strains of the Presidency were as far away from Mr. Coolidge as they were when he was in his mountain home.

Marks of An Orderly Mind.

Did not system speak here?

Coldness and thinness of personality have been attributed to Mr. Coolidge. I did not discover either. His self-command is, indeed, remarkable, and his external appearance does not suggest a raging fire. But personality does not live in externalities; personality lives within. It is the object of my study of this man’s qualities, traits, and views, as disclosed in his life, work, and public utterances, to detect and to put in plain words what he is like within. It has been said, too, that his mind works slowly. This criticism, in my judgment, springs from that kind of observation which measures mental velocity by verbal fluency. Measured so, without doubt, Mr. Coolidge’s mind works slowly.

As I sat watching the President I was more and more impressed by his physical slightness and its meaning. Many public men, in the problem of achieving success, have the advantage of big bodies. Some have the advantage of abundant whiskers. Some can roar as lions. Some have powerful and dangerous fists. Steam-roller superiorities these. Often they succeed wholly unaided by either brains or morals. Mr. Coolidge has not a big body. He has no whiskers at all. There is nothing leonine about his vocal equipment. His fists are neither powerful nor dangerous. Yet, in a State of strong men, rich in political gifts and powers, he rose above all his fellows, placed them all behind him, and took and held the center of the stage.

Is not this proof of intellect and character?

Zeal and talent for public service are conspicuous in the whole of Calvin Coolidge’s adult life. He was a political philosopher as a boy, and a political philosopher deeply religious and keenly ethical. Almost thirty years ago, when a senior at Amherst College, he won distinction in the academic world, and won a $150 gold medal by writing, in a contest open to seniors of all American colleges and universities, what was adjudged the best essay on the causes of the American Revolution.

Successes as an Amherst Student.

This essay, to those who would understand Mr. Coolidge, is worth examining. Its diction—there are about 2,000 words of it—has the terseness and clarity of the author’s mature utterances. Not a line or phrase in it suggests another writer’s thought. Original in form and weighty in substance, it depicts the American Revolution as a quarrel, not between different nations, but between Englishmen devoted to monarchy and Englishmen devoted to democracy.

Puritan and Covenanter himself, Mr. Coolidge in his prize essay shows how firm is his grasp of the meaning of these terms. He sees the Puritan and the Covenanter as exponents of the most remarkable characteristic of the English-speaking race—its will to be free. He notes Englishmen’s “great love for a king,” but reminds his readers that Englishmen “drove out one king, rebelled against two and executed three,” proving that, however much they deferred to the “divine right of kings,” they had a superior regard, on occasion, for “the divine right of the people.” His conclusion is that, in the end, this “great land of America” must have achieved its independence, even if the colonial policy of George III, and Lord North had been wise.

Consistency of His Career.

Mr. Coolidge’s record is one of extraordinary consistency. Not that he is any worshiper of consistency as such. He probably agrees with Emerson that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” He has not worshiped consistency, but he has been consistent. He has been consistent because he was born prudent, meditative, and far-seeing. He is a child of the Appalachians. Ancestrally and in his own life he had time and space and quietude to think. Look into his religious qualities and propensities, his moral enthusiasms, his conceptions of political science, his administrative methods of a generation ago and you find them virtually what they are today.

Supremely throughout his life Calvin Coolidge has believed in two things—religion and education. In all his thought and work he has depended in the past and depends now upon Divine guidance. He thinks there is no promise, no security, without it. “Our nation was founded by men who came over for the sake of religion,” he has said. “Religion is essential. Without the Church the community goes to pieces. I have seen this again and again in New England. Our nation cannot live without morality, and morality cannot live without religion.”

Results of Religion and Learning.

Religion and education, in Mrt. Coolidge’s view, are inseparably related. “Who teach the clergy?” he asks. And he replies that the higher education anciently was instituted solely for their instruction. He declares that not only the higher sciences, but philosophy, morals and religion all center in our colleges and universities. “It is not too much to say that in them is the foundation of all civilization and that their influence is all-embracing.” He points out that primary schools are a development of higher education, and that without such education modern society cannot exist. He states that we all, with or without the higher learning, come within its influence, and that Washington and Lincoln, though both lacked a college education, never would have been heard of but for colleges.

Light on Mr. Coolidge’s spiritual nature is found in his abiding love for Amherst. Its whole inspiration and practice delighted him and he places it first among the influences that have molded his life. And what sort of an institution is Amherst? In the language of its founder, it has, and will not deviate from, its “original object of civilizing and evangelizing the world by the classical education of indigent young men of piety and talent.” To teach men spiritual values is the basic aim of Amherst. “And,” remarks Mr. Coolidge, “the progress of this effort measures the progress of civilization; there is no other principle that men of the present day all over the world need to keep so constantly in mind.”

Training for All an Essential.

Ardent friend and advocate of the classics, Mr. Coolidge yet perceives the necessity of trade, vocational, and technical schools. He states that the courses of instruction in such schools must be pursued “with great thoroughness”—a reminder of this man’s attitude to every kind of task and duty. “Equal opportunity of training for all avenues of life,” says he, “is required by a democracy.” He would teach not only the preacher, the lawyer, the doctor, the engineer, the chemist; not only the artisan, the mechanic, the skilled worker. He would teach the youth of all callings and “re-establish the profession of teaching in public esteem.” He recognizes that a great educational system is impossible without devoted, self-respecting and capable teachers.

Mr. Coolidge never refers to education without strongly urging the claims of the classics as an indispensable factor. He says: “This effort for a practical education will be in vain if we look at the practical side alone. Education must teach more than the ability to earn a livelihood; it must teach the art of living. It is less important to teach what to think than to teach how to think. The end sought should be broad and liberal, rather than narrow and technical. The ideals of the classics, the humanities, must not be neglected. After all, it is only the ideal that is practical.”

Teaching People How to Think.

Democracy—American democracy—holds Mr. Coolidge’s heart in the sphere of politics. He believes to the uttermost in our political forefathers and in our constitutional system. He regards our Supreme Court, now under fire from more than one direction, as the citadel of American justrice—the sheet-anchor of our individual liberties. He believes in democracy, but in an alert, critical and militant democracy—a democracy that understands its birthright and is determined to defend it. He points out that selfishness, injustice, and evil are “in the world and never rest,” and that, if our “fairest government on earth” is preserved, it will be preserved by the individual American, and by him alone.

Individualism is at the base of all Mr. Coolidge’s political, social, economic, and cultural thinking. “We have no dependence,” says he, “but the individual. New charters cannot save us. They may appear to help, but the chances are that the beneficial results obtained are due to interest aroused by discussing changes. Laws do not make reforms; reforms make laws. We cannot look to government. We must look to ourselves. We must stand, not in the expectation of a reward, but with a desire to serve. Politics is the process of action ion public affairs. It is personal, it is individual, and nothing more. Destiny is in you.”

Defender of Individualism.

Government, to be sure, in Mr. Coolidge’s outlook, has a wide field of vital service. It must care for the education of the people, for their health, for their housing and working conditions, for the mentally and physically defective, for the weak in their struggle with the strong. All legislation, he remarks, should “recognize the right of man to be well born, well nurtured, well educated, well employed, and well paid.” But government, as this observer sees it, should interfere with individual liberty—should subtract from the privileges of the individual—only to the extent of preventing impingement upon the rights of other individuals. Its function is that of safeguarding and promoting the social welfare, while maintaining conditions of justice and freedom for the individual citizen, strong or weak, rich or poor.

Significant of Mr. Coolidge’s feeling about American politics and American national interests is his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt. What Roosevelt loved Coolidge loves. Hear him: “His [Roosevelt’s] work goes on. His battle line strengthens. His principles have more defenders, his actions more admirers. His followers are building a shrine at his birthplace to increase the influence of his life. The people whom he loved and trusted and served are the contributors. Here men may come and remember that he re-established a representative government of all the people, reopened the closing doors of opportunity, reawakened the soul of his country, and re-enforced the moral fiber of America.”

His Admiration for Roosevelt.

And listen to the President’s final words relative to his great predecessor in the White House: “Let the people make pilgrimages to this shrine where his great life began, where Theodore Roosevelt learned to kneel in prayer; let them contemplate his works and recall his sacrifices, and, out of their pilgrimage, their contemplation and their recollection, will be born the unyielding conviction, ‘Greater love hath no man than this’.”

Close student of government, both in theory and in practice, from early manhood—he went almost immediately from law to politics—Calvin Coolidge has had a lifelong and uncommonly vivid appreciation of the importance of law and order, without which there is no government and no civilization. It was this sense—this appreciation—which decided his position and gave him national renown in connection with the Boston police strike. It has been suggested that he was less strong in that crisis, or at a certain stage of that crisis, than he ought to have been, but those most familiar with the facts believe his conduct left nothing to be desired, and the National Institute of Social Sciences honored him with a gold medal.

His Defense of Law and Order.

“It is no accident,” Mr. Coolidge has said, “that the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts believe in law and order. It is their heritage. When the Pilgrim Fathers landed there in 1620 they brought ashore with them the Mayflower Compact, which they had drawn up in the cabin of that little bark under the witness of the Almighty, in which they pledged themselves, one to another, to make just and equitable laws, and not only to make them, but, when they were made, to abide by them. So that for 300 years that has been the policy and the principle of that Commonwealth. And I shall hold this medal as a testimony to the service that was begun 300 years ago and has continued through these generations; and in the hope that its example may still continue as a beacon light to all civilization.”

Mr. Coolidge esteems the United States Senate, like the Supreme Court, a liberty-conserving institution, and, therefore, a bulwark of law and order in this country. He holds that the Senate protects “not merely the rights of the majority—they little need protection—but the rights of the minority, from whatever source they may be assailed.” His reading of the history of the Senate is that of a story of wisdom and discretion in action for the execution of the public will. He says it functions “without passion and without fear, unmoved by clamor, but most sensitive to the right, the stronghold of government according to law, that the vision of past generations may be more and more the reality of generations yet to come.”

The Stronghold of Government.

Educated leadership bears a heavy responsibility in a republic, according to Mr. Coolidge’s reasoning. All men cannot have the higher education; those fortunate enough to get it owe much to their fellow men. They should both reflect and lead public opinion.

Coolidge is a nationalist. He reveres our nationalists from Washington to Roosevelt. He sees in jealous and vigorous nationalism nothing prejudicial to intelligent and beneficent internationalism. He admires the nationalistic principle that “lay at the foundation of all Washington’s statesmanship.” He declares that “where Cæsar and Napoleon failed, where even Cromwell faltered, Washington alone prevailed. He wished the people of his country to be great, but great in their own right. He resisted the proposal that he should be set up to rule them. He adopted the proposal that they should be organized to rule themselves. He carried these principles through to the end. He adhered, not to the cause of France, nor to the cause of England, but to that of America; and with patience and greatness sublime bore the resulting abuse of his country for his country’s good.”

Americanism, in Coolidge’s interpretation, is humanism in government. He is all for the idea that the mass is served best by serving the unit. If the unit prospers, if the individual feels he has protection and the open door, the mass prospers and there is national tranquillity. Of government activity affecting individual initiative and opportunity Coolidge is instinctively suspicious and critical. That is to say, he is the poles apart from Socialism. He thinks Socialism approaches human problems—the problems of society—from diametrically the wrong direction. In his view, personal freedom, private impulse to action, every man possessing inviolate the fruits of his industry, are the sure and the only incentives to progress, as they are the unmistakable marks of human justice. And as the President is for humanism in government, so he is for humanism in industry. He declares that “industry must be humanized, or the system will break down.”

Liberalism of sentiment on the part of Coolidge is evidenced by his early approval of votes for women. In this matter—and it was an excellent test of the spirit of statesmen—he was in advance of many of his contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, Coolidge favored the franchise for women long before Herbert Asquith, outstanding Liberal leader in England, threw his weight into the scales for this epoch-marking reform. It simply never occurred to Coolidge that women were politically inferior to men, that they were less citizens than were men, or that modern society could afford to exclude their intelligence and morality from politics. There are acute observers who have said that Herbert Asquith’s decline as a force in British political life began with his opposition to the enfranchisement of British women.

Early Advocate of Woman Suffrage.

Demagoguery, so far as one can discover from either the speech or the acts of President Coolidge, is alien to his ideas of party expediency and to his temperament. Demagoguery implies insincerity, and no one acquainted with the President suspects him of insincerity. His blood, his deeply religious home life, the mountains among which he grew up, the great instructors who ministered to his mental and moral development at Amherst, all combined to make him too serious and too wise a man to set any store by demagoguery or trickery of any kind.

So, when Calvin Coolidge, for instance, declares his sympathy with those who work—work with their hands or with their brains—one safely may take him at his word. He himself is a worker. He always has been poor, and he never has tried to get rich. His fees as a lawyer were so low as to provoke remark all over Massachusetts. Trade-union principles, from the beginning of his public career, have had his tangible support. “With proper co-operation between labor and employers,” he once said, “the future prosperity of the country may be double assured. Human labor will never again be cheap.” But he did not allow labor to dictate to him. When Samuel Gompers wired him to dismiss the Police Commissioner of Boston, he flashed back this reply: “The right of the police of Boston to affiliate has always been questioned, never granted, is now prohibited. There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”

His Sympathy For the Worker.

Unbounded pride and faith in America are part and parcel of Calvin Coolidge’s character. He sees her “steadily marching on.” To him her history, her services to freedom, are “glorious.” “There is,” he remarks, “her prosperity. There is the wonderful organization of her government, perfected in its ultimate decisions to reflect the will of the people. There is her system of education, developed in accordance with the public schools established in Massachusetts in 1647. There is her transportation, superior to that of any other country. There is her banking organization, richer than any other on earth. There is her commerce, which flows to the world markets. There is her industrial plant, superior to that of any other place or time. There is her agriculture, vast beyond the imagination to comprehend.”

Are these the result of the genius of a few? “No,” answers Mr. Coolidge. “All these are but the reflection of the genius, not of a select few, but of a wonderful people, great in intelligence, great in moral power, great in character.”

Achievements of A Great People.

Adversity seems to this Appalachian thinker a relatively innocuous thing from America’s standpoint. It is prosperity he fears. Not in lack of power, but “in the purpose directing the use of great power,” lies the danger to American civilization, as Mr. Coolidge sees the future. “There is new peril in our very greatness,” he comments. “There are all the old dangers in our incompleteness. It is impossible to overlook our imperfections. The war has greatly diminished the substance of some and greatly increased the substance of many. It has already given a new tongue to envy. Without doubt it will give a new grasp to greed.”

In the whole of President Coolidge’s private and public discussion of America there is an earnest call to high-minded and vigorous citizenship. “Society in America is in a healthy state of progress, but it cannot go alone; it must be supported.” Turning from the good to the bad in our national life—from the bright to the dark picture—the President says: “Schools we have, but a vast amount of illiteracy. Luxury we have, but a wide fringe of degradation and poverty. Great farms we have, but there are those who lack food, and amid a flood of commerce there are those who lack clothing and shelter.

“With all the light that comes from learning and religion, with all the deterrent power of organized society, there is an appalling amount of vice and crime. Some say civilization has failed. It has not failed, as anyone can see who looks at history. It must be supported and continued. It cannot be preserved without effort, and it is not yet done. The work must go on. As society grows more complicated, as civilization advances, the burden of its support is not less; it is more. It was never so great before as it is now.”

Civilization’s Need of Support.

In The Daily News’ interviews with those great Europeans—Marx, Mussolini, Poincaré, and MacDonald—we find one note firmly struck by all. It is the note, the principle, of sacrifice. These men tell us no society can be splendid, and no society can be secure, unless its citizens are ready for sacrifice. Calvin Coolidge says: “We need wealth and science and justice in human relationship, but redemption comes only through sacrifice. There is no other process that can sustain civilization; no other law of progress. If we make any headway against the perils of society, it will be by that process. 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.

“Failure means that sacrifice was lacking to secure success. Selfishness defeats itself. This has been the malady of every empire that has fallen, from Babylon to Russia. Where there has been success, it has meant that sacrifice has prevailed. It has been the salvation of every people from early civilization to the present day. America was laid in the sacrifices of Pilgrim and Puritan and the colonists of that day. It was defended by the sacrifices of the revolutionary period. It was made all free by the sacrifices of those who followed Lincoln, and insured by all who accept him. It was saved by the sacrifices of the World War.”

The Rewards of Sacrifice.

Mr. Coolidge affirms that, if we fill our legions with Gauls and Numidians and other barbarian tribes—if we do not ourselves go out to fight—we shall perish, as Rome perished. “Man’s salvation comes out of man. Government can aid, it cannot save, man. Civilization is always on trial, testing out, not the power of material resources, but whether there be in the heart of the people that virtue and character which come from charity sufficient to maintain progress. When that charity fails, civilization, though it ‘speak with the tongues of men and of angels,’ is ‘become as sounding grass or a tinkling cymbal.’ Its glory is departed. Its spirit has gone. Its life is done.”

Revolutionism, in the Coolidge argument, is a social menace that can be fought successfully with only mental and moral munitions. Overt revolutionary acts—incitements to assassination and violence and actual resort to crime—can be and must be punished. They must be crushed under the heel of authority. But beliefs cannot be treated so. Every citizen has a right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to make up his own mind and to express it, so long and so far as it does not signify violence toward those who hold different opinions. “If you are going to resist beliefs,” says the President, “you must meet them, expose their fallacy, present the facts which prove them wrong.” Mr. Coolidge thinks our extreme malcontents are “in the pay of the revolutionary authorities of Russia,” and he does not dismiss too lightly the peril involved, but he does not regard it as “genuinely serious.”

The Hopeful View of Man.

“I am of a very hopeful disposition,” says the Republic’s Chief Executive. You ask him why, and he replies: “Because I believe profoundly in my fellow-men.” His point of view is that the great mass of mankind the world over is reasonably sane and well disposed. If he did not believe this, as he will tell you, he could not have the confidence he has in popular rule. There is nothing priggish about the President. Admirer though he is of education, of learning, of culture—believer though he is in intellectual leadership for all it may be worth—he is not one of those who fancy that all wisdom is lodged in the cultivated classes. He knows that the soil has a wonderful way of enlightening those who live upon it. He knows that many things concealed from the wise and prudent are revealed unto babes.

He is far from thinking America extravagantly, or exceptionally, materialistic. “It is said by some,” he observes, “that Americans are bent on only that kind of success which can be cashed into dollars and cents. That is a very narrow and unintelligent opinion. We have been successful beyond others in great commercial and industrial enterprises because we have been a people of vision. Our prosperity has resulted, not by disregarding, but by maintaining, high ideals. Material resources do not, and cannot, stand alone; they are the product of spiritual resources. It is because America, as a nation, has held fast to the higher things of life, because it has had a faith in mankind which it has dared to put tot he test of self-government, because it has believed greatly in honor and truth and righteousness, that a great material prosperity has been added unto it.”

Sources of Material Prosperity.

Devout New Englander, Calvin Coolidge is no sectionalist. He has made friends in all parts of the country, and not least in the South, where his Yankee twang was in strange contrast to the Southern drawl. He has spoken in many places, and wherever he has spoken he has picked up local knowledge; it has surprised not a few of his deputations.

Hear him speak of Virginia—the old Dominion of Virginia—and you feel his enthusiasm, as you feel it when he speaks of New Hampshire or of Massachusetts.

Basis for Popular Liberties.

“No other of our States,” he reflects, “is so rich in history and tradition. The story of the early attempts at the settlement of Virginia, of its lost colony, and of the final success after failure, is all more fascinating than fiction. It has ever been the home of a proud and valiant race of pioneers and their descendants, of the early seventeenth century, strengthened and dignified by a dominant addition of Cavaliers and Huguenots, a sturdy and high-minded people, forever jealous of their rights and intent upon guarding and maintaining their liberties. Virginia, in 1619, assembled the first parliament ever convened in America. Its House of Burgesses met at Jamestown, and, ever since continual, is the oldest of our legislative bodies.”

While pointing out that the informal Mayflower Compact of November, 1620, “holds a high place among the charters of free government,” Mr. Coolidge states that “the first formal and authoritative charter which established free government on this continent was that granted to Virginia in July, 1621.” Dwelling upon the breadth of the Massachusetts mind, Mr. Coolidge recalls the words of one of the greatest sons of that State, Benjamin Franklin: “Above all, Washington has a sense of the oneness of America. Massachusetts and Georgia are as dear to him as Virginia.” And the President adds: “It is because Plymouth Rock, Bunker Hill, John Adams and Daniel Webster represent the nation that they glorify their State. In that faith Massachusetts still lives.”

Home life, labor and obedience figure prominently in Coolidge’s fundamental conceptions. “If our Republic is to be maintained and improved, it will be, first of all, because of the influences which exist in the home, for it is the ideals which prevail in the home life which make up the strength of the nation. The homely virtues must continue to be cultivated. The real dignity, the real nobility, of work must be cherished. It is only through industry that there is any hope for individual development.” Among the “grave duties and responsibilities” of those who would preserve “the high estate of freedom” this philosopher continually names obedience. It is the “things unseen” upon which he relies—the eternal moralities.

Strength Lies in the Homely Virtues.

Certain of the President’s critics have accused him of perpetually speaking in platitudes. He hears this criticism with complacency. He refers us to the cynical remark about Roosevelt’s rediscovery of the Moral Law, and observes: “What they said derisively let us state seriously. Roosevelt did discover the Ten Commandments, and he applied their doctrine with great vigor in places that had assumed they had the power to discard the Ten commandments.” Calvin Coolidge thinks this country and every other country need, and never can hear too much of, the old but ever-vital principles of individual and national character. He agrees with Samuel Taylor Coleridge that philosophy and moral passion cannot be better engaged than in “rescuing admitted truths from the neglect caused by their universal admission.” Cynical highbrowism makes a very small dent on the present occupant of the White House.

Sympathetic toward all nations, and in favor of what he deems prudent and effectual co-operation with other peoples for the common welfare of the world, Calvin Coolidge is vigilant and scrupulous to guard the national sovereignty of the United States from the incidence of any form of extra-American authority. His thesis is that we must be masters in our own house. He is of opinion that that way lies an increase of our strength and therefore an added ability on our part to serve the general interests of civilization.

How Best to Serve the World.

Far from a “pacifist,” he is a steadfast peace man. Our record on arbitration, our quarter of a century’s membership of The Hague Tribunal, and our long-cherished desire for a world court of justice he recalls with gratification. To the Permanent Court of International Justice he is committed in his first annual message to the Congress, and in his latest public addresses. He supports warmly the arrangements looking to peace in the Pacific. Rejecting membership in the League of Nations, he has found many ways to co-operate with it for the benefit of all peoples—notably, in respect of narcotics, white slavery and public health measures—and he used his influence to further the Dawes Plan, including the indispensable financial transactions contingent upon that plan.

It is interesting and instructive to note that Mr. Coolidge’s attitude toward any sort of super-State is in entire agreement with the standpoints expressed in The Daily News’ interviews with European statesmen. The President announces that we do not intend to permit any foreign nation, nor any group of foreign nations, “to make up our minds for us.” Chancellor Marx, Benito Mussolini, Raymond Poincaré, and Ramsay MacDonald use words to precisely the same effect.

Thus Marx: “Peoples are not ready for world federalism—for national autonomies related to an overriding central authority as, for example, the American States to Washington or the German States to Berlin. The League of Nations, as I understand it, would enthrone reason, justice, and peace, not by the crude and ineffectual instrumentality of compulsion but by a peace-breeding voluntarism based upon international understanding and desire.”

Mussolini, a nationalist of nationalists, is a strong supporter of the league of Nations, but only because, in his judgment, “it can do great things in the world, while leaving the individual nations in complete possession of their self-direction.” To Poincaré the League is merely an established means for “the friendly co-operation of peace-loving free nations.” Suggest to this veteran statesman, with one of the most experienced and astute legal minds in the world, that France’s internal authority is in any way impaired by her membership in the League, and you evoke a smile.

Ramsay MacDonald says: “I do not mean that any nation should lose its freedom over the league; I mean rather that all nations should exercise their freedom on behalf of the League. Britain did not lose her liberty when she identified her prestige and energy with the League. No member State did. Every nation should help, but help in its own way. It is essential to national independence, to popular control over policy, that nations do everything they do in their own way. But doing things in one’s own way is a very different matter from not doing them at all.”

Again and again President Coolidge has acknowledged his sense of America’s international interests and obligations. His first message to the Congress was laden with this sentiment, and it inheres in his view of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. He has spoken of the wide vision of the Massachusetts mind; it was wide enough to accommodate within its understanding and sympathy all the States of the American Union. May we not hope that the Massachusetts mind, or the Appalachian mind, of Calvin Coolidge, regularly as opportunity arises, will bring within its conspectus the whole world, not as an object merely of generous sentiments, but as an object of concrete measures of helpful fellowship?

The Program of a President.

We have examined the spiritual and intellectual background—the broad, sustaining emotions and convictions—of the President. He is a constitutionalist, an individualist, an economist, a tax reducer, a protectionist, an immigration restricter, a world court man, an arms limiter, an enemy of aggressive war, a world co-operator without official and permanent connection with international machinery, a pro-agriculturist, and an intense American patriot, as he understands American patriotism.

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  1. Coolidge: A Survey