West Virginia Public Broadcasting has a short tribute to one of the best men in the Coolidge administration, Ambassador Dwight W. Morrow. Mr. Morrow would become an incredible resource to the successful resolution of more than one difficult problem in the 1920s. He began interaction with Calvin Coolidge at their college, Amherst, in the 1890s. While Cal would go on to local practice in Northampton and Morrow to more illustrious work in New York at JP Morgan, he was finally persuaded by Frank W. Stearns, following Coolidge’s election as Governor of Massachusetts, that Morrow (not Stearns) was the crazy one for failing to see earlier what potential his classmate (Coolidge) possessed, a potential that could take him to the White House.
When Coolidge rose to that very office in August 1923, it seemed that Morrow would not have an opportunity to render much service to his friend. Offering his help wherever needed, Coolidge would not tap Morrow until the tough situation over air power and flight technology (stirred unnecessarily into a political issue by Billy Mitchell) needed someone with the talents Morrow could bring to bear. He chaired the board that studied the problem and whose report of recommendations became the Air Commerce Act of 1926, shrewdly preempting by two weeks the report from another committee that was set to radically bureaucratize the Air Corps and defend Mitchell’s misbehavior. Morrow was there to help Coolidge emerge out of that controversy and it would not be long before the President would look to him again for an even greater mission: Mexico. Appointed as Ambassador to Mexico, Morrow came to the knotted array of issues with both a skill for meticulous mastery of the legal details but also the disarming and humble personality for which he was known. He approached the conflict as few do in diplomacy with a love for its people and a dedication to the central principles at stake. He won them over with his sincere curiosity and boyish enthusiasm and consequently resolved both the constitutional impasse and the religious war that could have, in the hands of a lesser man, driven the United States and Mexico into military confrontation, as had happened in previous administrations.
It came as an incredible shock to Mr. and Mrs. Coolidge when, just as Morrow was beginning what promised to be an exceptional term of service in the Senate, Cal’s former Ambassador died at the age of fifty-eight, October 5, 1931, leaving behind his devoted wife and a loving family of three daughters, one son, and a growing number of grandchildren. His son-in-law, Charles Lindbergh, already having made history with his solo crossing of the Atlantic, would go on to make aviation history together with one of his daughters, Anne, by traveling — and surveying — the world via plane.
It was a severe blow to Coolidge, especially, to lose so dear a friend and for America to lose so stellar a public servant.
One thought on “On Mr. Morrow”
Excellent essay on a man to whom Coolidge owed much.