History books haven’t always focused on the thirtieth president. Still, his record and achievements were so great they warrant our attention today. Here are some of the facts about Coolidge.
Coolidge balanced the budget every year he was president, from 1923 to 1929.
When Coolidge left office, in early March, 1929, the federal budget was lower than when he came in.
Coolidge and his treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, made cutting taxes a top priority. After years of very high wartime tax rates, rates were reduced significantly under the Revenue Acts of 1921, 1924, and 1926, especially the latter, which was the crowning achievement of Coolidge tax program. The combined top marginal normal and surtax rate declined from 73% to 58% in 1922, and then to 50% in 1923 (income over $200,000). In 1924, the top tax rate decreased to 46% (income over $500,000). The top rate was only 25% (income over $100,000) from 1925 to 1928. By 1927, 98% of the population paid no income tax. It is also worth noting that numerous “nuisance” taxes, such as on cars and theatre tickets, were eliminated.
Coolidge and his Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, cut income tax rates down to 25%, a rate lower than President Ronald Reagan’s famous 28% rate in 1986.
Coolidge vetoed 50 bills in the course of his presidency. He was a regular maestro of one particular instrument, the pocket veto.
Coolidge prized brevity, wrote short and talked “short.” Even Coolidge’s autobiography is shorter than other presidents’.
In the Coolidge era, Americans got electricity, Model Ts, and then Model As, and radios.
Coolidge believed America must be a country of opportunity. He did not however believe the federal government should redistribute wealth among Americans. “Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong,” he said in his speech, “Have Faith in Massachusetts”, in 1914.
Coolidge abhorred perpetual activity by government. “Don’t hurry to legislate,” he said.
Coolidge challenged public-sector unions in the famous Boston Police Strike of 1919. As governor, he backed up the police commissioner and fired the policemen for striking. Their strike violated their contract. “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody anywhere anytime,” Governor Coolidge wrote to union leader Samuel Gompers. Coolidge’s tough stance boosted him to national prominence and ushered in an era of fewer strikes.
Coolidge believed Americans of color have the same rights as all other Americans. When in 1924 a white man wrote to complain about an African-American man running for Congress, Coolidge replied: “I was amazed to receive such a letter. A colored man is precisely as much entitled to submit his candidacy in a party primary as is any other citizen.”
Coolidge believed teachers needed government support, especially state support, and backed pay increases for teachers.
Coolidge was a lawyer, but never attended law school. Like Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, Coolidge read the law. Coolidge’s first employer was the Northampton, Massachusetts firm of Hammond and Field.
Coolidge said Americans, whatever their background, were equal. “Whether one traces his Americanisms back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years to the steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of today is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat.”
Coolidge was himself not an athlete but loved competition. In 1924, he served as honorary head of a world wide junior Olympics which took place just before the Paris Olympic games. He hosted star tennis players and spotlighted Charles Lindbergh when Lindy made his historic flight across the Atlantic.
Coolidge did not own a home for his entire career as a politician. The Coolidge’s thought it better to rent half a two-family on Massasoit Street in Northampton, Ma. Only on retirement did Coolidge buy the Beeches, a larger house in Northampton.
The Coolidge’s loved animals, and at various times owned many dogs, cats (Climber, Tiger, Blacky), birds, and a raccoon named Rebecca. While Coolidge was president, he received twin lion cubs as a gift from the mayor of Johannesburg. The White House named the cubs “Budget Bureau” and “Tax Reduction.” Coolidge was especially fond of Rob Roy, his collie.