On the New Year

Anonymous portrait of Calvin Coolidge held in the Coolidge Room of Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Portrait of Calvin Coolidge (by an anonymous artist) held in the Coolidge Room of Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Looking back over the previous year while thinking ahead to the new year, Calvin Coolidge wrote these thoughts on December 31, 1930: “The year…has been a sharp reminder that men cannot escape from the command that they shall earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. We cannot for long reap when we have not sown. We cannot hold what we do not pay for. The law of service cannot be evaded or repealed. Nor is it yet in the power of man under any system of government he can adopt or any organization of society he can form to make this a perfect world.

“But the ability to make the best of things, to secure progress, to learn from adversity is not to be disparaged or ignored. The creative energy of nature is not diminished but increased by the fallow season. Mankind requires a time for taking stock, for recuperation, for gathering energy for the next advance.

“That is the significance of the new year. We take a new inventory to see what we have, we take new bearings to see where we are, we correct our conduct by new resolutions. After all due allowance for error and relapse, such a course guarantees improvement. Perhaps the best resolve is to live so that next year new resolutions will be unnecessary.”

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