Coolidge Slept Here

The cottage where the Coolidges stayed in 1926. Courtesy of Todd Moe.

The cottage where the Coolidges stayed in 1926. Photo courtesy of Todd Moe.

Todd Moe over at North Country Public Radio offers this short piece remembering that the President and First Lady Coolidge stayed here in these cabins through the summer of 1926. It was remote and there were plenty of hardships for the family that year but the Coolidges held tenaciously to the belief that time away from Washington is not only good for those chosen to occupy the White House but especially good for the country. Coolidge would add: it is beneficial for the Congress to get back out to the country during summer recess too and reconnect to reality.

Did Coolidge Visit Dade City?

Dedication of Bok Tower, Lake Wales - Feb 1, 1929

Doug Sanders over at The Laker/Lutz News raises this interesting question researching whether President and Mrs. Coolidge stopped at the Gray Moss Inn, Dade City, during their visit for the dedication of Bok Tower in February 1929 before leaving the White House a month later. Coolidge fans, Florida history buffs will surely find this another fascinating mystery regarding the intriguing Coolidges.

On Affirmative Action

Originally posted on The Importance of the Obvious:

Politics to some, not excepting presidents, is a kind of contest where the image carries greater weight than the reality, intentions mean more than results and the illusion of statesmanship. Victory is seen not in terms of who fulfills the obligations of office, serving faithfully, but who appears to be the most aesthetically marketable as the face of whichever agenda emerges from within the Beltway. Conveying the impression that one cares about fiscal discipline is more important than actually cutting a single dime of government expenditure. Appointing a color, gender or ethnicity to the latest vacancy is supposed to assuage the injustice of decades of disenfranchisement as opposed to the far more substantial determination to choose men and women as individuals, on the basis of merit. Expecting the image projected to compensate for the deficit of accomplishments, politics has once again become more about the “Show Window” than the “Office…

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On Race Relations and Presidential Power, Part 3


Also see Alvin Felzenberg’s 1988 essay, “Calvin Coolidge and Race: His Record in Dealing with the Racial Tensions of the 1920s,” and his book “The Leaders We Deserved (And a Few We Didn’t),” especially pages 304-310 on Coolidge. The chapter on race relations in the 1920s (chapter 15) in the Wiley Companion to Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover is embarrassingly derelict in assessing the issues it gropes to explain, focusing all its energies on Garvey and DuBois while never mentioning the roles played by Trotter, Mrs. Walker, Booker T. Washington, Robert R. Moton, Emmett Jay Scott, and the numerous others with whom Coolidge dealt, with whom he collaborated, and backed to accomplish important tasks throughout his administration. The Wiley writers proclaim no one group spoke for the black community but then proceed to recount events as if such were, in fact, false (leaving the gravely erroneous impression that the NAACP and Garvey’s movement were the only competing visions then or now). It illustrates how backward scholarship on Cal is even now that these large segments of the record are left out. It is as if the conclusion that Coolidge did nothing on this front must be the final word, all other evidence suppressed to the contrary.

Originally posted on The Importance of the Obvious:

The movie hit Boston theaters on April 10, 1915. Adapted from Thomas Dixon’s novel, The Klansman, D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” met opposition immediately for its overtly racist slant of history, lionizing the Klan while vilifying the “undesired” elements in American society. It had already been shown and endorsed by President Wilson at the White House. Wilson had praised Griffith’s movie as “writing history with lightning. My only regret is that it’s true.” But it was not true. It was quickly becoming officially validated historical revisionism, neatly packaged pro-Klan propaganda. The fight was on to prevent so bigoted a film from gaining further cultural and official affirmation. William M. Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, zealously led much of the effort to petition Governor Walsh and the General Court to strengthen the law for its censorship. As the battle moved into the State House, something curious…

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On Race Relations and Presidential Power, Part 2

Originally posted on The Importance of the Obvious:

James Weldon Johnson, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Photo taken around 1920. James Weldon Johnson, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Photo taken around 1920.

When it was arranged for James Weldon Johnson, the first black leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to visit the White House in the early months of the Coolidge Administration, Mr. Johnson was not only glad to leave but, unfortunately, left with a completely mistaken perception of the President. Even more unfortunate, Johnson let that first impression influence future interaction with the Vermonter. Johnson wrote years later of this meeting,

“He, it appeared, did not want to say anything or did not know just what to say, I was expecting that he would make, at least, any inquiry or two about the state of mind and condition of the twelve million Negro citizens of the United States. I judged that curiosity, if not interest, would make for…

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On Race Relations and Presidential Power, Part 1

Originally posted on The Importance of the Obvious:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit of it” — Proverbs 18:21

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in fittings of silver” — Proverbs 25:11

Few, especially in public life, have respected the truth of these maxims than Calvin Coolidge. He understood the power of the spoken word. It carries the ability to inspire one to greater heights of goodness and nobility or to destroy with malice and hatred. It can build up the soul or crush the spirit. It carries a potency that cannot be entirely harnessed or contained once uttered and thus dare not be exercised flippantly or with casual disregard for the responsibilities which fall to the speaker, especially as the President of the United States of America.

Coolidge wielded this power effectively during his Presidency by deploying the spoken word sparingly…

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Coolidge in Samuel Walker’s “Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama”

Originally posted on The Importance of the Obvious:

Presidents and Civil Liberties WalkerRacism in Nation_s Service YellinRepublican Party and Black America Sherman

While Mr. Walker delves into an area of study oft neglected these days, he, like Eric S. Yellin in his Racism in the Nation’s Service: Government Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson’s America, indulges in more than a fair share of unwarranted generalizations, especially when it comes to the Coolidge years.

Yellin acknowledges that Coolidge had a more “sympathetic” outlook for individual blacks than Wilson did, yet he assigns Cal into the realm of insufficient action on the race issue (p.185). For Yellin to conclude that Coolidge ultimately conceded to Wilson’s departmental segregation, he must avoid the removal of Colonel Sherrill over government property, for insisting on the old prejudicial policy, replacing him with Colonel Grant, who was known for fair and even-handed dealings on racial conflicts. The claim that the Coolidge administration targeted Perry Howard for his skin color rather than his repeated violations of ethics…

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