Date: February 19, 1931
Location: Northampton, MA
Summary: Town meetings started from the beginning of our colony and still are the most effective means of demonstrating self-government.
(Original document available here)
One of our most beneficial institutions is the town meeting. Each springtime sees it flourish all over rural New England, whence it spread to other parts of the nation. In this region it goes back to the cabin of the Mayflower, where before the final landing of the Pilgrims they adopted the compact which was the forerunner of our written constitutions. For more than twenty years the town meeting was the supreme legislative and judicial authority in the Plymouth colony.
No more effective instrument for demonstrating the principle of equality and liberty and teaching the art of self-government has been devised. When the people of a state who are qualified voters can meet together on a common footing in assemblies of moderate size and there, after due deliberation, choose their own magistrates, impose their own taxes and appropriate their own money, they have provided themselves with the firmest foundation of government and the best guaranties of liberty. Such gatherings afford the finest training in the practical elements of citizenship. By placing both the power and responsibility solely in their hands the town meeting demonstrates to the people that this is their country and their government.
Citation: Calvin Coolidge Says: Dispatches Written by Former-President Coolidge and Syndicated to Newspapers in 1930-1931 (Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation)
The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Jill Leavitt who prepared this document for digital publication.