Date: September 5, 1930
Location: Northampton, MA
Summary: Coolidge writes that natural disasters show that we have little control over nature but that these events bring out people’s humanity.
Two recent events remind us again that man is almost helpless against the elements. One was the earthquake around Naples in Italy where many hundreds of people were killed and much property destroyed, and the other was the tropical hurricane which passed over Santo Domingo almost obliterating that ancient city and carrying death to several hundred of its inhabitants.
Such catastrophies move the heart of humanity to sympathy and at once set in motion the relief agencies of the neighboring governments and the American Red Cross. The realization of our common helplessness against such upheavals of nature arouses in us a stronger sense of our common brotherhood.
For some reason difficult to explain a sudden disaster of this kind, entirely beyond human control, moves people to compassion while they are more or less indifferent to the slaughter of three thousand tribesmen around Mount Ararat and to a far greater loss of life and property in China through deliberate human action by war and resulting famine. With all our civilization, all our humanity, all our religion, men are still less in, danger from the elements than they are from each other.
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 Fr. Stephen Lawson who prepared this document for digital publication.