“Best of Coolidge” Readings: Presidential Series

Leading off our “Best of Coolidge” Readings for the Presidential years is the First Annual Message delivered before the joint session of Congress on December 6, 1923. In it he outlines more than five dozen proposals informing the country what to expect from him and his administration after four months of quiet study and preparation (subsequent, of course, to the two and a half years in Washington as Vice President) on the variety of issues needing attention after the death of President Harding.

He would later write that most of these recommendations would go on to become law by the time he left office in 1929. This result came without White House coercion or reprisal, tactics Coolidge despised in executive leadership. He accomplished much without seeking credit while entrusting subordinates with their responsibilities. By and large, they did not let him down. Their competent reliability and both his administrative talents and mind for detail kept the ship on course and efficiently directed in faithful service to the country, not merely themselves. By this measure, Coolidge was one of our most effective Presidents.

We are left to wonder how differently history (and the country as a whole) would have gone had visionary proposals like the reorganization of the federal departments – eliminating redundancy and needless bureaucracy – succeeded with so many of the others.

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