Quotations – T


“As I went about with my father when he collected taxes, I knew that when taxes were laid some one had to work to earn the money to pay them.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 26.

“The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free.”

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

” . . . if the rates of large incomes are so high that they disappear, the small taxpayer will be left to bear the entire burden. If on the other hand, the rates are placed where they will secure the most revenue from large incomes, then the small taxpayer will be relieved.”

Source: Coolidge and the Historians, p. 109.

“The first object of taxation is to secure revenue.”

Source: Coolidge and the Historians, p. 109.

“The business of the country, as a whole, is transacted on a small margin of profit. The economic structure is one of great delicacy and sensitiveness. When taxes become too burdensome, either the price of commodities has to be raised to a point at which consumption is so diminished as greatly to curtail production, or so much of the returns from industry is required by the government that production becomes unprofitable and ceases for that reason. In either case there is depression, lack of employment, idleness of investment and of the wage-earner, with the long line of attendant want and suffering on the part of the people. After order and liberty, economy is one of the highest essentials of a free government.”

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

“A government which requires of the people the contribution of the bulk of their substance and rewards cannot be classed as a free government, or long remain as such.”

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

“The only constitutional tax is the tax which ministers to public necessity.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” on March 4, 1925. As found in The Mind of the President.

“The collection of any taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. Under this republic the rewards of industry belong to those who earn them. The only constitutional tax is the tax which ministers to public necessity. 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,” on March 4, 1925. As found in The Mind of the President.

“The method of raising revenue ought not to impede the transaction of business; it ought to encourage it. I am opposed to extremely high rates, because they produce little or no revenue, because they are bad for the country, and, finally, because they are wrong. We can not finance the country, we can not improve social conditions, through any system of injustice, even if we attempt to inflict it upon the rich. Those who suffer the most harm will be the poor. This country believes in prosperity. It is absurd to suppose that it is envious of those who are already prosperous. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be successful. The verdict of the country has been given on this question. That verdict stands. We shall do well to heed it.”

Source: “Inaugural Address,” on March 4, 1925. As found in The Mind of the President.

“I want the people of America to be able to work less for the Government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. That is the chief meaning of freedom.”

Source: “Speech On Taxes, Liberty, And The Philosophy Of Government,” on August 11, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President, p. 111.

“There is a limit to the taxing power of a State beyond which increased rates produce decreased revenue. If that be exceeded intangible securities and other personal property become driven out of its jurisdiction, industry cannot meet its less burdened competitors, and no capital will be found for enlarging old or starting new enterprises. Such a condition means first stagnation, then decay and dissolution.”

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

“That tax is theoretically best which interferes least with business. Every student knows that excessively high tax rates defeat their own purpose. They dry up that source of revenue and leave those paying lower rates to furnish all the taxes.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge of Northampton, p. 12-13.

“Taxes have to be paid by the public. They cannot be imposed on any class. There is no power that can prevent a distribution of the burden. The landlord may be the one who sends a check to the public treasury, but his tenants nevertheless make the payment. A great manufacturer may contribute a large share to his income, but still the money comes from the consumer. Taxes must and do fall on the people in whatever form or name they are laid.”

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

“High taxes make high prices.”

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

“A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude. One of the first signs of the breaking down of free government is a disregard by the taxing power of the right of the people to their own property. It makes little difference whether such a condition is brought about through the will of a dictator, through the power of a military force, or through the pressure of an organized minority. The result is the same. Unless the people can enjoy that reasonable security in the possession of their property, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, against unreasonable taxation, freedom is at an end. The common man is restrained and hampered in his ability to secure food and clothing and shelter. His wages are decreased, his hours of labor are lengthened. Against the recurring tendency in this direction there must be interposed the constant effort of an informed electorate and of patriotic public servants. The importance of a constant reiteration of these principles cannot be overestimated.”

Source: “Meeting Of The Business Organization Of The Government,” on  June 30, 1924. As found in Foundations of the Republic.

“I can lay down the broad principle that I am not in favor of imposing any new kinds of taxes.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on April 4, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President.

“No matter what anyone may say about making the rich and the corporations pay the taxes, in the end they come out of the people who toil. It is your fellow workers who are ordered to work for the Government, every time an appropriation bill is passed.”

Source: “The High Place Of Labor,” on September 1, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President.

“One of the rights which the freeman has always guarded with the jealous care is that of enjoying the rewards of his own industry. Realizing the power to tax is the power to destroy, and that the power to take a certain amount of property or of income is only another way of saying that for a certain amount of his time a citizen must work for the government, the authority to impose a tax upon the people must be carefully guarded. . . . It condemns the citizen to servitude.”

Source: “Meeting Of The Business Organization Of The Government,” on June 30, 1924. As found in Coolidge: An American Enigma.

“Whenever the state of the Treasury can permit, I believe in a reduction of taxes. But I am not advocating tax reduction merely for the benefit of the taxpayer; I am advocating it for the benefit of the country.”

Source: “State Of The Union Address,” on December 8, 1925. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents.

“There is no escaping the fact that when the taxation of large incomes is excessive, they tend to disappear.”

Source: Adequate Brevity, p. 105.

“The success of the Government does not lie in wringing all the revenue it can from the people, but in making their burden as light and fairly distributed as possible, consistent with the proper maintenance of the necessary public functions.”

Source: “Annual Luncheon Of Associated Press,” on April 22, 1924. As found in Messages and Papers of the Presidents. 

Tax-Free Bonds

“Another reform which is urgent in our fiscal system is the abolition of the right to issue tax-exempt securities. The existing system not only permits a large amount of the wealth of the nation to escape its just burden, but acts as a continual stimulant to municipal extravagance. This should be prohibited by constitutional amendment. All the wealth of the nation ought to contribute its fair share to the expenses of the nation.”

Source: “First Annual Message To Congress,” on December 6, 1923. As found in The Mind of the President.

“A man with large inherited or accumulated capital is told he must pay one half of his income to the Government if he invests in productive business, but he is invited to be relieved of all tax by the simple expedient of withdrawing from business and investing in tax-exempt securities. That does not mean that wealth in existence is taxed; it is not. It escapes. It does mean, however, that initiative and new enterprises are throttled.”

Source: “Statement By President Coolidge Concerning The Revenue Bill Of 1924,” on June 2, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President, p. 119.

Tax Rates

“If we had a tax whereby on the first working day the Government took 5 per cent of your wages, on the second day 10 per cent, on the third day 20 per cent, on the fourth day 30 per cent, on the fifth day 50 per cent, and on the sixth day 60 per cent, how many of you would continue to work on the last two days of the week? It is the same with capital. Surplus income will go into tax-exempt securities. It will refuse to take the risk incidental to embarking in business. This will raise the rate which established business will have to pay for new capital, and result in a marked increase in the cost of living. If new capital will not flow into competing enterprise, the present concerns tend toward monopoly, increasing again the prices which the people must pay.”

Source: “To The National Republican Club,” on February 12, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President, p. 129.


“There no doubt often arises a feeling on the part of the teaching force of the nation that they are lacking in public appreciation. They do not occupy positions which bring them into general prominence. Their compensation is not large in any event and considering the length of time and the necessary expense required in preparation is often very meager. But if their rewards are not large, they are seldom exposed to that species of criticism, often turning into positive abuse, which is the lot of many elected public servants.”

Source: “The Needs Of Education,” on December 21, 1922. As found in The Price of Freedom.


“If at any time our rewards have seemed meager, we should find our justification for Thanksgiving by carefully comparing what we have with what we deserve.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, November 27, 1930.


“Government cannot relieve from toil.”

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


“We need to learn and exemplify the principle of toleration. We are a nation of many races and of many beliefs. The freedom of the human mind does not mean the mere privilege of agreeing with others, it means the right of individual judgment. This right our government undertakes to guarantee to all without regard and without punishment to any for following the dictates of their own consciences. It is on this principle that speech is free, the press is free, and religion is free.”

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

“By tolerance I do not mean indifference to evil. I mean respect for different kinds of good. 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 to-day is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat. ”

Source: “Toleration and Liberalism,” on October 6, 1925.



“Two kinds of tourists go abroad. One kind are of a somewhat bumptious nature. If that kind of tourist gets some education abroad and finds out that there are other people in the world that are entitled to some consideration and respect as well as Americans, I don’t think that will do any great harm. There is another kind of people that go abroad, that have an appreciation of the amenities that are usually practiced, and if they do not find things to their liking abroad of course their remedy is to come home and stay here and spend their money here.”

Source: “Press Conference,” on July 27, 1926.

“While our tourists will find many things to admire and some to emulate, a careful investigation will convince them that the general condition of the people of their own country is unsurpassed. They will return for the most part more content with their own institutions, more loyal to their own government, more devoted to their own faith. Those who do not will not be of great consequence.”

Source: Calvin Coolidge Says, July 5, 1930.


“Never go out of your way to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you.”

Source: Era of Excess (Sinclair), p. 252.


“While the quantity of the truth we know may be small it is the quality that is important. If we really knew the truth the quality of our knowledge could not be surpassed by the Infinite.”

Source: Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 67.

“I want taxes to be less, that the people may have more.”

Source: “The High Place Of Labor,” on September 1, 1924. As found in The Mind of the President.

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