Press Conference, February 10th, 1925

Date: February 10th, 1925

Location: Washington, D.C.

(Original document available here)

I haven’t offered to keep Secretary Gore in the Cabinet. It goes without saying that I should be pleased to retain him there. I think he has given an especially good administration of the Agricultural Department, but the people of his state have chosen him to be Governor and he couldn’t very well disregard that election and ask to be released if it would make necessary a new election down there, which would be one reason. But the other reason would be that the people have chosen him for Governor and he can’t disregard that election and neither can I. It would hardly be right for the President to ask a man who has just been chosen Governor of a state to relinquish that office for the purpose of taking office here. You will recall that he had already been elected when I appointed him as Secretary of Agriculture.

I haven’t written much of anything on my inaugural address. My idea is to have it rather short. That is the idea that I always start out on about making an address or a message to the Congress, but a great many things come up as you look over the field that you think require some comment, and it grows and grows. One method of preventing that is not to start to write it until the time is so short that you can’t make it long. But I want to get this out in time to give the press the advantage of an early opportunity at it. I glanced at the first inaugural address of Grover Cleveland the other day. It only covers – well not much more than three pages of those papers of the President that was printed in a book that is about that size (indicating the size). I don’t believe it could have consumed in its delivery over 12 or 15 minutes. I recall reading not very long ago that President Cleveland had never been in Washington until he came here to be inaugurated President, although he had been Governor of the great state of New York. Governor McCall of Massachusetts, the second greatest state, I remember, went to the Senate and sat down there during the ceremonies, and then delivered his address without any notes. I don’t think that has been the custom, I don’t believe it has ever been done before, and I doubt if it has been done since. But I glanced at President Cleveland’s address and it was a very short address.

Mr. President, while we are on the subject of inauguration would you mind telling us whether in the matter of the ceremonies there will be any relaxation by you?

I don’t know just what you mean by relaxation. I want all the newspaper men to come. If any of you want to parade I will be glad to have you. Do you want any more relaxation?

Mr. President, I think the inaugural committee of Washington does in the sense that it wishes the parade to be somewhat more elaborate and more informal.

I think it will work out rather satisfactorily. I appreciate the compliment of people that want to come and join in a parade, but unless we set a limit to it somewhere there is almost no place to stop; it creates confusion and always more or less disappointment; and I would rather have the disappointment in relation to a short parade than to have it in other directions. I want the public to participate insofar as they can, in the inaugural. Now, as they did four years ago, they have the advantage of amplifiers, so that many thousands can hear the delivery of the message, which naturally I think is quite important, that couldn’t in years gone by hear at all. That will be helpful. Some of the men in the Congress tell me that the inaugural four years ago was, on the whole, the most satisfactory that they have had. They didn’t have any parade at all, but I thought it would be appropriate to have a parade, particularly of the Army and Navy and such Governors as want to come and participate in it, bringing with them their party, which I thought would be very well limited to 100 – 50 I thought at first, but the committee thought 100, so it has been put at 100. That will give the people who will assemble along the line a chance to look at the Governors of the Various states and those that may come with them.

I have decided to appoint Mr. Caswell as Collector of Customs in Minn. Mr. Schall, the Senator-elect up there, presented the name of Mr. Williams, who is a very fine man, but I was already committed to Mr. Caswell, so that I want to see if I can’t find some other position for Mr. Williams.

I haven’t seen the bill that Mr. Borah introduced relative to the alien property, and feel a little hesitancy about commenting on the bill very much until I should see it. I share in what I understand is his desire to preserve the policy of this country in not seizing private property in case of war. That is a policy that is an advantage to this country, because our nationals have property located all over the globe. I think that is a sound policy. We have undertaken to perpetuate that policy and provide for it and emphasize it in the treaty we made with Germany, which provides that the German Government shall reimburse its nationals for the property that we hold here. It is held as security for the payment of funds that are due to our Government and especially to our private individuals, our own citizens. The difficulty about returning it is the fact that there are other people that are creditors of Germany besides ourselves. That is a very fundamental difficulty. Other nations have appropriated the property that they held. We want Germany to pay us whatever is due, some $500,000,000 or $600,000,000, and naturally if we took this security that we hold and turned it back and then said that Germany must pay us out of some other funds, other countries would have something to say about it. They would say, “Do you propose that we should relinquish money that ought to go to us, in order that you may turn back this property that you hold to the German people?” That is a good deal of a difficulty. They would be very loath to let us have money, which they say ought to go to them, to take the place of this alien property that we hold. Now that is not an insuperable difficulty of course, but it is a difficulty. It would have to be considered very carefully in deciding whether we could return this property that we have. Now Senator Borah knows about those things and is undoubtedly taking account of them, and there may be provisions in his bill to meet those possible objections. I haven’t seen the bill and don’t want to be understood as commenting on the bill. I have a great deal of confidence in any bill that Mr. Borah might present for support.

I don’t think it has been demonstrated yet that the flexible tariff is unworkable. It is a new policy and one that I think may be valuable. There are some difficulties in the administration of it, but I am not convinced yet that – in fact, I very much hope that it will turn out to be a very helpful method in determining the rates and schedules that ought to be in operation. It is especially helpful at this time, because when our tariff bill was passed foreign exchange was in a quite different place from what it is now. It is fluctuating and unstabilized and very likely it would have quite an effect in determining what a schedule ought to be. It was very difficult at that time to pass a bill that would be anywhere near satisfactory, without some provision in it for flexibility. Now, we are going to have a tariff in this country for a good many years. It is about the easiest way of raising money and we ought gradually to work it into a scientific arrangement, as much so as we possibly can. I think the studies of the Tariff Commission and the opportunity to have a flexibility in the rates ought to be very helpful. I am not expecting it to have a great effect in one or two years, but over a series of years it has so much promise that I wouldn’t, so far as I know now, favor discarding it right away. Now others may have additional information to what I have which might change my views. I am just giving an offhand opinion of what has been the result of my study of it and my experience with it.

I don’t know that I have any mature views about the proposal to create a unified and independent Air Service. I haven’t been inclined to favor it. One of the reasons is that they are putting through a reorganization bill, or are going to, and one of the first proposals there was that we should have an entirely unified Army and Navy; to put that all under one term, “National Defense” or something of that kind, with sub-heads of those who are to look after the Army and those who are to look after the Navy. This runs counter to the general policy. I think the general policy of Government administration at the present time is unification, rather than the establishment of new and independent services. Then the Air Service is a new arm of the service and has not yet been developed. We don’t know what its value is. It is evidently a service that holds great promise, and I consider it as a very important adjunct of our national defense. I want to see it developed to its fullest extent. That can be done by discussion, exchange of views, and experimentation. I have noticed several suggestions that we have spent some $400,000,000 on the air service and don’t seem to have secured any very great results. I think one of the reasons is in the word I have just used. It is still in its experimental stage. If you have had any experience at all with government experimentation you know it requires a good deal of money to carry on. My first experience came when I was in the legislature, I think I was in the Senate and was Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture. The experimental station at the Agricultural College pursued a great many experiments that didn’t turn out to be of any great value, other than to demonstrate that results could not be secured by that line of procedure. Now, it is the same in our Air Service. We have to make experiments with plans of different makes, patterns, engines, and everything of that kind, and oftentimes the experiment only demonstrates that if you want to secure a result you have to proceed in another direction. That costs money. So I don’t think it is a real criticism that although we have spent a great deal of money we have not accomplished altogether results on the practical side.

No, I don’t think the views of Mr. Hearst and Mr. Sykes, of Iowa, who came in this morning relative to the appointment of a new Secretary of Agriculture caused any delay, because I found they were in practical harmony with my own views. I am trying to get a man who especially represents agriculture and who is sympathetic with the cooperative movement. I think it’s the organization of Mr. (I don’t know now which one it was, who is President of some producer’s cooperative association) that handles a good deal of livestock – yes, Mr. Sykes. He showed that for the week ending February 6th their shipments of livestock totaled 444 cars. The highest that any other had was 255. Now that shows the development of cooperative movement. I think that is a very promising field of development for the benefit of agriculture and any Secretary of agriculture that I have I should expect to be sympathetic with that policy. Certainly he will be if he carries out my desires relative to the administration of the Department.

I haven’t received any suggestion at all about Judge English of the Eastern Illinois District. I had known that there was some investigation going on, by the House Judiciary Committee. Nothing came to me in any official way. My information was that it hadn’t seemed to develop very much. But about that I haven’t any information that you wouldn’t have.

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

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

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