Calvin Coolidge: A Legacy of Quiet Competence

by | Nov 14, 2023 | Quick Reads

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, may not command the same attention in the public imagination as his more flamboyant predecessors and successors, but a closer examination of his tenure reveals a presidency that was impactful and, by many libertarian and conservative metrics, exceedingly successful. Here are ten reasons why Calvin Coolidge is often lauded as one of the best American presidents:

Fiscal Responsibility

Coolidge was a paragon of fiscal conservatism. He believed in a balanced budget, regularly vetoing spending bills that he felt were excessive and reduced the national debt substantially during his time in office.

Tax Reduction

Together with his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, Coolidge cut taxes multiple times. The Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926 reduced income and inheritance taxes, which Coolidge believed stifled economic growth and individual initiative.

Economic Growth

Under Coolidge, the United States experienced a period of significant economic growth and widespread prosperity, known as the “Roaring Twenties.”

Small Government Philosophy

Coolidge famously said, “The business of America is business.” He championed minimal government intervention in the economy and is revered for his laissez-faire approach to governance.

Immigration Policy

Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, which was controversial but reflected his era’s concerns about maintaining American homogeneity and protecting the labor market.

Advocacy of Civil Rights

While his record on civil rights was mixed, Coolidge was a rare voice for racial equality during his time, advocating for anti-lynching laws and condemning racial segregation and violence.

Government Efficiency

Coolidge’s presidency is noted for efforts to make the government more efficient. He appointed the first Native American to a presidential cabinet and embraced technological advancements like radio to reach citizens directly.

Peace and International Relations

Coolidge maintained a foreign policy of non-intervention, keeping the United States at peace during his presidency and favoring diplomatic solutions.

Labor Relations

He presided over a period of relative harmony between labor and management, marked by few strikes and labor disputes.

Presidential Restraint

Coolidge had a reputation for integrity and humility, rarely engaging in the type of political grandstanding that characterized many of his contemporaries. He respected the limitations of his office, setting a precedent for presidential restraint.

Coolidge’s approach to governance — emphasizing economic growth, fiscal responsibility, and executive restraint — resonates with many who believe in the principles of limited government and personal freedom. His quiet yet firm leadership style, his commitment to cutting taxes and reducing public debt, and his ability to preside over a peaceful, prosperous nation cement his standing for some as the best president in U.S. history. While every president has detractors and no single leader can embody perfection, Coolidge’s adherence to the values of economic conservatism and governmental efficiency secures his legacy as a paragon among American Commanders-in-Chief, especially for those who hold those principles dear.

NEXT: 7 of History’s Forgotten Libertarians

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