Calvin Coolidge Says, March 6, 1931

Date: March 6, 1931

Location: Northampton, MA

(Original document available here)

With the close of the Congress many men in both parties retiring to private life will be missed because the knowledge and experience gained by long service made them extremely useful public servants. Few people seem to realize that politics is an art. While they are particular to have even unimportant professions examined and licensed they take little heed of the training and qualifications of those who seek elective office. It is usual to sneer at the politician and utterly to condemn the practical politician.

In a republic, knowing what ought to be done is different from knowing how to do it. The trained business man and experienced lawyer often fail in public life. Business buys what it wants and gives orders. The law demands its rights. Politics can only plead for support. It makes an appeal to a combination of a sense of duty and self interest. Men like Jefferson, Lincoln and Speaker Reed, who made a profound impression on public affairs, gained their success by a lifelong study of the art of politics. They knew how to get the people to take action. More care in selection and less unmerited abuse of public officers will be required to conduct our increasingly complicated 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 Robert Manchester who prepared this document for digital publication.

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