Early Speeches (1890-1918)

Tremont Temple

November 3, 1917

There is a time and place for everything. There are times when some things are out of place. Domestic science is an important subject. So is the proper heating and ventilating of our habitations. But when the house is on fire, reasonable men do not stop to argue of culinary cuts nor listen to a disquisition on plumbing; they call out the fire department and join it in an attempt to save their dwelling. They think only in terms of the conflagration.

So it is in this hour that has come to us so grim with destiny. We cannot stop now to discuss domestic party politics. Our men are on the firing-line of France. There will be no party designations in the casualty lists. We cannot stop to glance at that alluring field of history that tells us of the past patriotic devotion of the men of our party to the cause of the Nation; devotion without reserve. We must think now only in terms of winning the war.

An election at this time is not of our choosing. We are having one because it is necessary under the terms of our Constitution of Massachusetts. We have not conducted the ordinary party canvass. We have not flaunted party banners, we have not burned red fire, we have not rent the air with martial music, we have not held the usual party rallies. We have addressed meetings, but such addresses have been to urge subscriptions to the Liberty Loan, to urge gifts to the great humanitarian work of the Red Cross, and for the efforts of charity, benevolence, and mercy that are represented by the Y.M.C.A. and by the Knights of Columbus, for the conservation of food, and for the other patriotic purposes.
But we are not to infer that this is not an important election. It is too important to think of candidates, too important to think of party, too important to think of any thing but our country at war. No more important election has been held since the days of War Governor Andrew. On Tuesday next the voters of Massachusetts will decide whether they will support the Government in its defense of America, and its defense of all that America means. There is no room for domestic party issues here. The only question for consideration is whether the Government of this Common wealth, legislative and executive, has rendered and will render prompt and efficient support for the national defense. Perhaps it would be enough to point out that Massachusetts troops were first at the Mexican border and first in France. But that is only part of the story.

Wars are waged now with far more than merely the troops in the field. Every resource of the people goes into the battle. It is a matter of organizing the entire fabric of society. No one has yet pointed out, no one can point out, any failure on the part of our State Government to take efficient measures for this purpose. More than that. Massachusetts did not have to be asked. While Washington was yet dumb, Massachusetts spoke.

Months before war was declared a Public Safety Committee was appointed and went to work; weeks before war a conference of New England Governors was called and a million dollars was given the Governor and Council to equip Massachusetts troops for which the National Treasury had no money. By reason of this foresight our men went forth better supplied than any others, with ten dollars additional pay from their home State, and the assurance that their dependents could draw forty dollars monthly where needed for their support. The production and distribution of food and fuel have been advanced. The maintenance of industrial peace has been promoted. The Gloucester fishermen, fifteen thousand shoemakers in Lynn, the Boston & Maine railroad employees, have had their differences adjusted. A second million dollars for emergency expenses has been given the Governor and Council. An efficient State Guard of over ten thousand men has been organized. Our brave soldiers, their dependents, the great patriotic public have been protected by the present Government with every means that ingenuity could devise. We have won the right to reelection by duty well performed.

Remember this: we are not responsible for the war, we are responsible for the preparation that enables us to defend our soldiers and ourselves from savages. Massachusetts is not going to repudiate these patriotic services. To do so now would mean more than repudiating the Government. It would mean repudiating the devotion of our brave men in arms, repudiating the sacrifice of the fathers, mothers, wives, and dear ones behind, and repudiating the loyalty of the millions who subscribed to the Liberty Loan; It would mean repudiating America.

Massachusetts has decided that the path of the Mayflower shall not be closed. She has decided to sail the seas. She has decided to sail not under the edict of Potsdam, crimped in narrow lanes seeking safety in unarmed merchant men painted in fantastic hues, as the badge of an infamous servitude, but she has decided to sail under the ancient Declaration of Independence, choosing what course she will, maintaining security by the guns of ships of the line, flying at the mast the Stars and Stripes, forever the emblem of a militant liberty.

Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts: A Collection of Speeches and Messages, 2nd ed. 
Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919