Quotations – P

Parliamentary System (Contrast With)

“We often have Governors and occasionally a President without a legislative majority in their party. But even that is better for us than constant uncertainty and perpetual turmoil of elections. We know fairly well what to expect from government for the next two years. Our system may not be so responsive but it is safe. If we do not get what we want we probably get more of what we ought to have.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, December 8, 1930.


“Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country. In no other nation on earth does this principle have such complete application.”

Source: “The Destiny Of America,” on May 30, 1923. As found in The Price of Freedom.

“Patriotism does not mean a regard for some special section or an attachment for some special interest, and a narrow prejudice against other sections and other interests; it means a love of the whole country.”

Source: “The Destiny Of America,” on May 30, 1923. As found in The Price of Freedom.

“Not to know and appreciate the many excellent qualities of our own country constitutes an intellectual poverty which instead of being displayed with pride ought to be acknowledged with shame.”

Source: “Address Of President Coolidge At The Memorial Exercises Arlington National Cemetery,” on May 30, 1927. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“We must eternally smite the rock of public conscience if the waters of patriotism are to pour forth. We must ever be ready to point out the success of our country as justification of our determination to support it.”

Source: “Speech At Tremont Temple,” on November 1, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“Patriotism can neither be bought or sold. It is not hire and salary. It is not material, but spiritual. It is one of the highest human virtues. To attempt to pay money for it is to offer it an unworthy indignity which cheapens, debases and destroys it.”

Source: “Message To The House Of Representatives Returning Without Approval Of A Bill Providing For Adjusted Compensation For War Veterans,” on May 15, 1924. As found in Adequate Brevity, p. 74.

Past, The

“We come here on this occasion to honor the past, and in that honor, render more secure the present.”

Source: “Westfield,” on September 3, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.


“What America should have required was not the keeping of the peace, but the keeping of the soul…Nathan Hale and Joseph Warren did not keep the peace. Nor did Washington and Lincoln. But they kept the faith.”

Source: PCC, p. 183.

“There is another element, more important than all, without which there can not be the slightest hope of a permanent peace. That element lies in the heart of humanity. Unless the desire for peace be cherished there, unless this fundamental and only natural source of brotherly love be cultivated to its highest degree, all artificial efforts will be in vain. Peace will come when there is realization that only under a reign of law, based on righteousness and supported by the religious conviction of the brotherhood of man, can there be any hope of a complete and satisfying life. Parchment will fail, the sword will fail, it is only the spiritual nature of man that can be triumphant.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Having met our war obligation to pay, let us meet our peace obligation to save.”

Source: “Address To The General Court Beginning The Second Year As Governor Of Massachusetts,” on January 8, 1920.

“I do not claim to be able to announce any formula that will guarantee the peace of the world.”

Source: Adequate Brevity, p. 74.

“Past wars and national defense cost a very large sum. It pays to be at peace.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, December 4, 1930.


“This world is made up of all kinds of people. Some are good, and some are better, while others have made it necessary for the government to take charge of them.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, July 18, 1930.

People, The

“Of course it would be folly to argue that the people cannot make political mistakes. They can and do make grave mistakes. They know it, they pay the penalty, but compared with the mistakes which have been made by every kind of autocracy they are unimportant.”

Source: “The Price Of Freedom,” on January 21, 1923. As found in The Price of Freedom.

Political Mind

“The political mind is the product of men in public life who have been twice spoiled. They have been spoiled with praise and they have been spoiled with abuse.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 229.


“There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes to succeed.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 188.

“We need more of the Office Desk and less of the Show Window in politics. Let men in office substitute the midnight oil for the limelight.”

Source: “At The Home Of Augustus P. Gardner,” on September 1, 1916. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“Talking is all right, but the side that organizes and gets the vote to the polls is the side that wins.”

Source: Meet Calvin Coolidge, p. 202.

“At least 400 Democrats voted for me [for Mayor]. Their leaders can’t see why. I know why. They knew I had done things for them, bless their honest Irish hearts.”

Source: Your Son Calvin Coolidge, December 10, 1909.

“It is much better not to press a candidacy too much, but to let it develop on its own merits without artificial stimulation. If the people want a man they will nominate him, if they do not want him he had best let the nomination go to another.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 121-122.

“So much emphasis has been put upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service.”

Source: “On The Nature Of Politics,” on May 12, 1915. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“We have in this country a certain type of officeholder, fortunately not large, who are always out with square and compass seeking to find out what the political effect will be of every action they take. They do not need to make such elaborate investigations. Any one with a little experience can tell them in advance that the effect of action based on such motives will always be bad. All the predominant political opinion of the nation which is worth cultivating is never impressed by decisions made for effect. Those who compose that body want responsible officeholders to try to find out what is best for the welfare of the people and do that. They are moved by sincerity and integrity of purpose. Pretense does not appeal to them.

“That is the reason why those who seek popularity so seldom find it, while those who follow an informed conscience so often are astonished by a wide public approval. The people know a sham even when they seem to be trying to fool themselves and they cannot help having a wholesome respect for a reality. The best political effect usually comes to those who disregard it.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, October 15, 1930.

Political Parties

“Since its very outset, it has been found necessary to conduct our Government by means of political parties. That system would not have survived from generation to generation if it had not been fundamentally sound and provided the best instrumentalities for the most complete expression of the popular will. It is not necessary to claim that it has always worked perfectly. It is enough to know that nothing better has been devised”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Unless those who are elected under the same party designation are willing to assume sufficient responsibility and exhibit sufficient loyalty and coherence, so that they can cooperate with each other in the support of the broad general principles, of the party platform, the election is merely a mockery, no decision is made at the polls, and there is no representation of the popular will.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Parties do not maintain themselves. They are maintained by effort. The government is not self-existent. It is maintained by the effort of those who believe in it. The people of America believe in American institutions, the American form of government and the American method of transacting business.”

Source: “Speech Before The Republican Commercial Travelers’ Club,” on April 10, 1920.

“As a matter of fact all the political parties are progressive. I can’t conceive of a party existing for any length of time that wasn’t progressive, or of leadership being effective that wasn’t progressive.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on July 18, 1924.

Political Party Chairman

“The popular diversion exhibited in the sport world of killing the umpire and taking out the pitcher, when transferred to the political world becomes the demand for the resignation of the party chairman.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, November 15, 1930.


“The people who start to elect a man to get what he can for his district will probably find they have elected a man who will get what he can for himself.”

Source: “On The Nature Of Politics,” on May 12, 1915. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.


“It has become the custom in our country to expect all Chief Executives, from the President down, to conduct activities analogous to an entertainment bureau.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 118.

“It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 173.

“The words of the President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately.”

“Like the glory of a morning sunrise, it can only be experienced — it can not be told. ”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 195.

“In the discharge of the duties of the office there is one of action more important than all others. It consists in never doing anything that some one else can do for you.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 196.

“It costs a great deal to be President.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 192.

“I do not choose to run for President in nineteen twenty-eight.”

Source: The Quiet President, p. 384.

“We draw our Presidents from the people. It is a wholesome thing for them to return to the people. I came from them. I wish to be one of them again.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 242.

“When I was Mayor of Northampton, I was pretty busy most of the time, and I don’t seem to be much busier here. I just have to settle different kinds of things.”

Source: Meet Calvin Coolidge, p. 106.

“The president shouldn’t do too much, and he shouldn’t know too much. The president can’t resign…So I constantly said to my cabinet: ‘There are many things you gentlemen must not tell me. If you blunder, you can leave, or I can invite you to leave. But if you draw me into all our departmental decisions and something goes wrong, I must stay here, and by involving me, you have lowered the faith of the people in their government.’”

Source: Quote in Yankee Magazine, January 1996.

“I hope you all enjoyed your stay over in Vermont. I find it helpful for me to go back once in a while to see that I am not forgetting how people earn their living, how they are required to live, and what happens when those who have harness breaks, or one of their shoes need some repairing, sit down and mend it. You can go out and do some work on fences, do such odd jobs as are necessary to keep the house in repair, and in general do such things as are necessary for the ordinary American citizen to do. There is always a little danger that those who are entrusted with the great responsibilities of business and Government may come to forget about those things and disregard them and lose the point of view of the great bulk of citizens of the country who have to earn their living and are mainly responsible for keeping their houses, farms and shops in repair and maintaining them as a going concern. I find it very helpful to go back and revive my information about those things, lest I should be forgetful about it and get out of sympathy with those who have to carry on the work of the nation.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on August 10, 1926.


“One newspaper is better than many criminal laws.”

Source: Adequate Brevity, p. 78.

“I have often said that there was no cause for feeling disturbed at being misrepresented in the press. It would be only when they began to say things detrimental to me which were true that I should feel alarm.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 184.

“They have undertaken to endow me with some characteristics and traits that I didn’t altogether know I had. But I have done the best I could do to be perfectly fair with them and, in public, to live up to those traits. I have sometimes found it a little difficult, especially under the provocation that arises out of some of the things that I read in the newspapers, but I have been able to contain myself on those occasions.”

Source: Meet Calvin Coolidge, pp. 8-9.

“Whenever any section of our press turns on America and on American institutions, and assumes a foreign attitude, every informed person knows that it has fallen from the high estate which is our common heritage, and becoming no longer worthy of regard is destined to defeat and failure. No American can profit by selling his own country for foreign favor.”

Source: “Address Of President Coolidge At The Dinner Of The United Press,” on April 25, 1927. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“An American press which has all the privileges which it enjoys under our institutions, and which derives its support from the progress and well-being of our people, ought to be first of all thoroughly American.”

Source: “Address Of President Coolidge At The Dinner Of The United Press,” on April 25, 1927. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Like almost anything else, the standards of the press are ultimately set by the people themselves.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, October 18, 1930.

Price Controls

“Government price fixing, once started, has alike no justice and no end. It is an economic folly from which this control has every right to be spared.”

Source: “Message To The Senate Returning Without Approval S. 4808 – The McNary-Haugen Farm Relief Bill,” on February 25th, 1927. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Fiat prices match the folly of fiat money.”

Source: Messages and Papers of the Presidents, p. 9779.

“It is not possible to repeal the law of supply and demand, of cause and effect, or of action and reaction. Value is a matter of opinion. An act of Congress has small jurisdiction over what men think.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, July 29, 1930.


“The mighty in their pride walk alone to destruction.”

Source: “Flag Day: A Proclamation,” on May 26, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.


“Some principles are so constant and so obvious that we do not need to change them, but we need rather to observe them.”

Source: “Education: The Cornerstone Of Self-Government,” on July 4, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

Principles of the Founding Fathers

“These principles there laid down with so much solemnity have now the same binding force as in those revolutionary days when they were recognized and proclaimed. I am not unaware that they are old. Whatever is, is old. It is but our own poor apprehension of it which is new.”

Source: “Harvard University Commencement,” on June 19, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.


“Large profits mean large pay rolls.”

Source: “Have Faith In Massachusetts: Massachusetts Senate President Acceptance Speech,” on January 7, 1914. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“Civilization and profits go hand in hand.”

Source: “The Supports Of Civilization,” on November 27, 1920. As found in The Price of Freedom.

“There is just one condition on which men can secure employment and a living, nourishing, profitable wage, for whatever they contribute to the enterprise, be it labor or capital, and that condition is that some one make a profit by it. That is the sound basis for the distribution of wealth and the only one. It cannot be done by law, it cannot be done by public ownership, it cannot be done by socialism. When you deny the right to a profit, you deny the right of a reward to thrift and industry.”

Source: “The Role Of Business In Society,” on December 15, 1916. As found in Law and Order.

“There is just one condition on which men can secure employment and a living, nourishing, profitable wage, for whatever they contribute to the enterprise, be it labor or capital, and that condition is that some one make a profit by it.”

Source: “Associated Industries Dinner,” on December 15, 1916.


“In these days of violent agitation scholarly men should reflect that the progress of the past has been accomplished not by the total overthrow of institutions so much as by discarding that which was bad and preserving that which was good; not by revolution but by evolution has man worked out his destiny. We shall miss the central feature of all progress unless we hold to that process now. It is not a question of whether our institutions are perfect. The most beneficent of our institutions had their beginnings in forms which would be particularly odious to us now. Civilization began with war and slavery; government began in absolute despotism; and religion itself grew out of superstition which was oftentimes marked with human sacrifices. So out of our present imperfections we shall develop that which is more perfect. But the candid mind of the scholar will admit and seek to remedy all wrongs with the same zeal with which it defends all rights.”

Source: Commencement Address, Holy Cross College, on June 25, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

Property/ Property Rights

“All owners of property are charged with a service. These rights and duties have been revealed, through the conscience of society, to have a divine sanction. The very stability of our society rests upon production and conservation. For individuals or for governments to waste and squander their resources is to deny these rights and disregard these obligations. The result of economic dissipation to a nation is always moral decay.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“The property of the country belongs to the people of the country. Their title is absolute. They do not support any privileged class; they do not need to maintain great military forces; they ought not to be burdened with a great array of public employees.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“Coincident with the right of individual liberty under the provisions of our Government is the right of individual property. . . When once the right of the individual to liberty and equality is admitted, there is no escape from the conclusion that he alone is entitled to the rewards of his own industry. Any other conclusion would necessarily imply either privilege or servitude.”

Source: “Authority and Religious Liberty,” on September 21, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

“When service is performed, the individual performing it is entitled to the compensation for it. His creation becomes a part of himself. It is his property. To attempt to deal with persons or with property in a communistic or socialistic way is to deny what seems to be this plain fact.”

Source: “Authority and Religious Liberty,” on September 21, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

“Ultimately, property rights and personal rights are the same thing.”

Source: “Have Faith In Massachusetts: Massachusetts Senate President Acceptance Speech,” on January 7, 1914. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“We need not concern ourselves much about the rights of property if we will faithfully observe the rights of persons. Under our institutions their rights are supreme. It is not property but the right to hold property, both great and small, which our Constitution guarantees.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” March 4, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“It is very difficult to reconcile the American ideal of a sovereign people capable of owning and managing their own government with an inability to own and manage their own business.”

Source: “Address On The Anniversary Of The First Continental Congress,” on September 25, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President.

“Along with the solemn assurance of freedom and equality goes the guarantee of the right of the individual to possess, enjoy, and control the dollar which he earns, and the principle that it shall not be taken away without due process of law. This necessarily goes with any theory of independence or of liberty, which would be only a mockery unless it secured to the individual the rewards of his own effort and industry.”

Source: “The Price of Freedom,” on January 21, 1923. As found in The Price of Freedom.


“…we have had many attempts at regulation of industrial activity by law. Some of it has proceeded on the theory that if those who enjoyed material prosperity used it for wrong proposes, such prosperity should be limited or abolished. That is as sound as it would be to abolish writing to prevent forgery.”

Source: “Associated Industries Dinner,” on December 15, 1916. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

“Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshiped.”

“If you can base the economic condition of the people on their appearance, the way they are dressed, the general appearance of prosperity, I should say that it was very good. I don’t know that that has any significance now, but I noticed most of the ladies had on silk dresses and I thought I saw a rather general display of silk stockings.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on June 9, 1925.

“Prosperity does not result from cheap goods but from fair profits.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, August 27, 1930.


“My observation of protectionism is that it has been successful in practice, however unsound it may appear to be in theory. That must mean the theories have not taken account of all the facts.”

Source: Correspondence to Dwight Morrow, March 10, 1920. As found in The Quiet President, p. 103.

“For over a generation each protective tariff has changed the basis but enlarged the market for imports. Of course, some lines may have been injured and others compelled to come in on a rate more fair to the United States standards of wages and living. That is not saying the new tariffs promoted or retarded the increases. But the fact is higher rates did not decrease the former imports. The most reasonable explanation seems to be that protection encouraged business and a more prosperous people bought more goods abroad. Instead of being disturbed at the tariff foreign nations should know that our general imports will be large so long as our business is good.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, July 11, 1930.

“A very bad tariff would be better than constant agitation, uncertainty, foreign animosity and change. . . . Hope for a purely scientific tariff will prove a delusion. Any prolonged investigations, covering many schedules for the purpose of rewriting the law, will do more harm than good. Many will be injured while none will be satisfied. And the country will not be benefited.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, September 10, 1930.

“We wish to protect our own wage earners, our agriculture and industry from the results of dumping produce on our markets at a price with which they could not compete. But the policy has a deeper significance than that. We are unwilling to profit by the distress of foreign people. We do not want their blood money. Our efforts are not only to protect our own people from cheap goods, which President McKinley said meant cheap men, but we propose to set up a standard that will discourage other nations from exploiting their people by producing cheap goods. Our policy requires fair wages for both domestic and foreign production. We have no market for blood and tears.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, November 26, 1930.

Puerto Rico

“I suggested to them also the great desirability of a general knowledge on the Island of the English language. They are under an English speaking government and are a part of the territory of an English speaking nation. I thought that it would be very much easier for them to understand us, and for us to understand them, if they had a good working knowledge of the English language. While I appreciated the desirability of maintaining their grasp on the Spanish language, the beauty of that language, and the richness of its literature, that as a practical matter for them it was quite necessary to have a good comprehension of English.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on May 20, 1927.

Public Affairs

“Everybody must take a more active part in public affairs. It will not do for men to send, they must go. It is not enough to draw a check.”

Source: “Speech At Tremont Temple,” on November 1, 1919. As found in Have Faith in Massachusetts.

Public Property

“We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or with the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic either of an undeveloped people or a decadent civilization.”

Source: “Economy In The Interest Of All,” on June 30, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

Public Service

“Public service, from the action of the humblest voter to the most exalted office, can not be made a mere matter of hire and salary. The supporters of our institutions must be inspired by a more dominant motive than a conviction that their actions are going to be profitable. We can not lower our standards to what we think will pay, but we must raise them to what we think is right.”

Source: “Freedom And Its Obligations,” on May 30, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

“The government cannot be run successfully by substituting the power of entertainment for the power of accomplishment. The essential quality for the voters to require in their candidates is capacity for public service.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, October 8, 1930.

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