Press Conference, August 20, 1926

Date: August 20, 1926

Location: White Pine Camp – Paul Smiths, New York

(Original document available here)

As you have just had an opportunity to talk with Senator Wadsworth, I don’t thinkthere is much that I can tell you that you haven’t already secured from him. The main report he gave me was that his own campaign for election is progressing very favorably and he had every confidence in his ultimate success. I don’t know that there is any comment I can make on Secretary Kellogg’s speech. It tells its own story better than I could tell it by undertaking to paraphrase it or comment on it. It was a statement of what the Government is attempting to accomplish and the policies it is trying to promote and the position that it holds on some current foreign questions.

Of course I don’t know just when I shall return to Washington. I think I will be here three weeks more and perhaps get back about the 18th of September. Somewhere in there. I couldn’t fix any definite time.

I have known in a general way that the Department of Justice was proceeding by injunction in cases where they thought there had been a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. I think they have had quite a number of cases of that kind, not with a desire to persecute or harass or injure legitimate business, but for the purpose of keeping competition open and doing the best the Department can to see that the laws are carefully observed. I don’t know as they have had quite so much publicity about actions of that kind as has sometimes been the case, but I think their enforcement of the law has been expeditious and effective wherever investigations or complaints have indicated that there was a basis for action. I think they have been very careful not to bring cases they were not convinced that the evidence would support fully their accusations.

I haven’t had a chance to talk with Senator Capper excepting for a few moments. I had other guests last night and he started for the golf course this morning just as I started for the office, and he hasn’t returned yet. I think Mr. Lambert might report more in detail about his whereabouts.

I haven’t any detailed knowledge other than what is already public about treaties with Great Britain or proposed agreements with Canada. I don’t understand that we are attempting to make any new treaty with Great Britain. The object of some conferences in London was the development of processes of procedure under the present treaty. I understood from Mr. Kellogg and from statements that I think were made on the floor of Parliament by Mr. Churchill that some agreements had been secured, not treaties but agreements, as to the execution of the present treaties that would make those treaties more effective.

I haven’t had any information come to me relative to U. S. District Attorney Bernstein. I take it from this question that he is U. S. District Attorney in Ohio. This is Mr. Durno’s question.

Mr. Durno. Yes sir.

President: I haven’t any information about that. The only possible comment I could make would be that of course the Attorney General would undoubtedly give Mr. Bernstein leave from other duties in order that he might enforce any U. S. laws. What violations of U. S. laws may be involved in the murder of Mr. Mellett, I don’t know. Of course the murder itself would be purely a violation of the local law of Ohio, and as such would come for investigation and prosecution entirely under the jurisdiction of the state authorities of Ohio.

I think I am going to Plattsburgh next week, Thursday.

Senator Wadsworth and I only talked of the national aspect of politics.

I invited Owen Young to come up here very much as I had other men that are prominent in industrial and business life, in order to find out how things are progressing in the business activities in which they are engaged and to secure any suggestions that they might make which I would think would be helpful to the betterment of the business conditions of the country. I always use that in its very broadest and most inclusive sense. I don’t mean merely the carrying on of merchandising or banking or industrial manufacturing, but also agriculture and all the employment that arises out of the transaction of business in this country, not only those that buy and sell, but those that are engaged in production on the side of the employee and the wage earner.

Secretary Jardine notified us a day or two ago that he was going to be motoring through this part of the country and I was very much pleased to hear that, so that he can come and make me a visit. I understand Mrs. Jardine is with him, isn’t she?

Mr. Clark. He didn’t say.

President; Well, we are not certain about that then. Quite naturally I shall discuss with him the matters that are in his Department. He has a great many matters. Of course agriculture is the basis, but under that is forestry and good roads. The money that the national government expends on good roads is expended through the Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Tabor, the head of the National Grange, indicated last Spring just before he went abroad that he would like to call on me late in the Summer or early in the Fall, and I have sent him word that I would be glad to see him. I understand he is coming Monday. The Grange is more representative of the Eastern agricultural interests. They have some membership in the West, but they are especially strong in the East and have a membership that consists not only of those who may be actively engaged in agriculture, but on the social side of the general population of the rural towns and the small villages.

I talked with Mr. Rosenwald especially about the business conditions of the country. I think he gave you the same figures that he gave to me, which were very encouraging and indicated that business conditions are good. I had the same information from Mr. Brosseau. Mrs. Brosseau is the President-General of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I understood from her that the Daughters of the American Revolution were interested in raising money to build that new auditorium in Washington that they have under way and that their efforts were meeting with a fair degree of success. I think it is planned to build that immediately in the rear of the present D.A.R. building.

I think I have already said that I secured from Mr. Brosseau the same information about the general state of business, he being the president of the Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, Isn’t he?

Mr. Clark Practically, yes sir. Their representative.

President: Representative and Executive Head. I talked with both Mr. Rosenwald and Mr. Brosseau a little about installment buying and they said that while that question had worried them a little some months ago, they felt sure that the installment business of the country was on a sound basis. Mr. Brosseau knew especially about installment buying of automobiles. I think that has been put on a sound basis. Mr. Edsel Ford, by the way, expressed the same opinion to me that such credits as are now extended in the purchase of automobile are made on careful investigation and require a sufficiently large initial payment and are credits extended over twelve months only, being a short enough period to make the business thoroughly sound. That is for the purchase of passinger cars. I think perhaps the terms for the purchase of trucks, which is of course entirely a business proposition, may be a little more liberal. But the general drift of the information I have been able to secure, both from the Dept. of Commerce and from the business interests in the field, is that installment buying or credit is not over extended.

Press: Would you permit a question relative to what you said about the Department of Justice. There have been some reports coming from Washington that there might be some recommendations made for a change in the Sherman or Clayton Acts.

President: Nothing of that kind has been brought to my attention. It may be that their experience has developed the fact that some changes could be advantageously made. Whether the suggestion is to be that the law should be made more liberal or less restrictive of business, or whether it should be made more restrictive, I don’t know. I haven’t any information about that. There has been some discussion I think, not between myself and members of the Cabinet, but I have known of some discussion relative to perhaps some change in the law that would permit associations of importers. We now have under the Edge law, I think, permission for quite rigid associations of exporters. It has been suggested that that principle might be extended to certain classes of imports, but I don’t think any plan of that kind has ever been worked out, merely a thought that perhaps it could be done. I think it would be quite difficult, as our importations are so broad and cover such a diversity that any general law applicable to importations would tend to break down the anti-trust law. It might be made applicable to certain specific commodities, but I don’t know about that.

Press: Hasn’t it been suggested that this might be to permit Americans to have something to fight foreign competitions on raw materials?

President: I don’t know, but that was perhaps the connection in which I heard about it. I had a vague impression that I had heard the matter mentioned some time, but such mention as was made to me was rather to dismiss it as quite doubtful about the feasibility of its application.

Citation: Calvin Coolidge: Remarks by the President to Newspaper Correspondents

The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of John McLeod who prepared this document for digital publication.

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