Press Conference, March 20, 1925

Date: March 20, 1925

Location: Washington D.C.

(Original document available here)


I do not know of any foundation for any suggestion that Chairman O’Connor of the Shipping Board is not to remain. I hope he will. I think he is in entire sympathy with, what might he called, my shipping policies, or rather in the way I am trying to have the Shipping Board business conducted.

There has been some suggestion that 1 might go to Swampscott for a vacation this summer, but nothing definite has been arranged about it. I haven’t the slightest idea whether I shall go up there or not. I would like to get up to New England somewhere. I suppose a number of you boys would like to go up to Plymouth again, but the conveniences there are not very good for any extended stay. Of course, it depends more or less on the weather here. If it begins to grow very hot early in the season I should have more of a desire to get away for an extended stay. If it should continue cool, as it did last year through June and July, 1 would not mind very much staying here in the White House. I know it isn’t a good idea to stay here during the entire summer. It would be much better to get away into a little higher altitude and into a cooler climate.

1 do not know as I can make any comment on the reports that France regards a security pact as a necessary preliminary to a conference on limitation of armaments.

Mr. MacMurray is in the State Department and I think he is in charge of Eastern Affairs. He is our expert on Eastern affairs, that is, China and Japan, and eminently qualified to be Minister to China, and his name has been under consideration.

1 have not yet made any decision about it, and I am sure that the Secretary of State has not made any decision about any recommendation. Mr. MacMurray’s name is not under consideration any more than several other names.

I noticed the headline about the Federal Grand Jury at Philadelphia that is investigating liquor conditions. I did not read the article to see what their recommendations were. The thing that did strike me though in the headline was that they had not made any indictments or found any indictments. The Grand Jury is a body that under our law frequently comes together to consider questions affecting the enforcement of laws, and it is not infrequent that they make reports other than merely to find or report indictments. Often times quite important procedures have been brought about as a result of a report by a Grand Jury. Now, one of the suggestions that, it is said here, was made was that prohibition agents and employees should be placed under civil service. That is my opinion, and I have made two recommendations at least to Congress suggesting that a law be passed for that purpose. None has yet been passed. I think that such a law might be helpful. Now, the other suggestion is that the administration of the enforcement law be placed in the Department of Justice. Well, now, I am not quite so certain about that. When I first considered the matter, I was rather inclined to think that that would be helpful, but on further study, and talking with Major Haynes, I did not feel quite so certain that that would be. 0f course, a great deal of the enforcement of the law — I am now talking about the United States enforcement — is in the Department of Justice. They bring suits there on which many, many millions of dollars of fines have been collected, and many years of prison sentences have been imposed. But the administration of the law is connected in a way also with our revenues, and some of that work that necessarily goes on is in the Treasury Department. So there is some foundation for keeping it there. I think it was thought at the time that it would tend more to help keep an administration that had a single motive than it would he to put it into the Department of Justice. I have heard also that it was a question of personalities. Somebody thought one person in the Department of Justice was not so favorable to the enforcement of law as some person in the Department of the Treasury. Now. in addition to that, it seems to me there should have been another finding to the effect that the United States Government is not equipped in and of itself to secure an adequate enforcement of the prohibition law. The Constitutional amendment did not contemplate that it should be, but rather, contemplated that the enforcement would go on by the local authorities under national prohibition, exactly as it had gone on in the enforcement of laws relative to the sale of intoxicating liquors before the national prohibition law had been passed, with the addition that the United States Government also had authority to engage in the enforcement. I think it is quite apparent that unless they – the municipal authorities – I mean city and town and state – cooperate thoroughly and heartily in the enforcement of the prohibitory law, that enforcement is not nearly so good. The United States Government can do a great deal. It ought to supervise the main sources, it ought to do everything it can, (and nobody else can do it), to prevent smuggling. And it ought to look after the withdrawal of liquor from storage. But when you come down to the small sales in the localities, that, of course, is preeminently the work for the local policeman, and unless the local policeman functions in that respect, it is very difficult to get an adequate enforcement unless the United States Government wants to duplicate the police force of the country – which, of course, is hardly to be thought of.

I have not decided what to do about the appointment of a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission. I sympathize very greatly with those people who would like to have an appointment made in the South, and I offered the appointment to the only man I could find down in the south-eastern part of the country who seemed to be qualified for this particular place, which is a technical place, not a question of rate-making so much as it is of understanding the intricacies of railroad finance. There are a good many men in the South who could undertake the work of rate-making, but I did not find any one in the South-east except the man in South Carolina, who is familiar with the requirements of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and that man was in the receipt of a considerable income from his private efforts and did not now want to enter the public service.

No decision has been made as to who will be the Minister to China. And I have not determined on all of the personnel of the Muscle Shoals Commission. I am looking up two or three engineers. I do not know that there is anything I can say about the Tacna-Arica decision that is not better said in the decision itself. The decision must carry its own conviction. It is a decision that has been made for the purpose of settling a long standing dispute.

I do not know that any memorial has come to me from the “Friends of the Magyar Republic” relative to the case of Count Karolyi. There may be one on my desk that may have come from the outside office. There is no comment that I could make. The decision of the United States was explicitly set out in a letter that was prepared and sent to the Committee on Foreign Relations while Mr. Hughes was Secretary of State.

I do not know that there is anything I can say about the transfer of the Patent Office to the Department of Commerce other than that that seemed to he the more natural place for it. It is distinctly a commercial enterprise. It does not naturally fall in with the work of the Department of the Interior, though it went there because it was set long before there was a Department of Commerce. I do not know o f any other changes that are contemplated. I do not think that there is any foundation for a suggestion that the Bureau of Mines should be transferred, or that the Pension Office might be placed under the Veterans Bureau. I do not know of any economies that would be effected by changes of that kind or of any betterment in the public service, though I have to modify that with the statement that I have not given it careful and minute thought and have not considered any suggestion that an investigation of the question be made.

I am pleased to see this report that the Washington Real Estate Board is setting up within itself some kind of machinery to deal with the rent questions. I think that is an eminently fitting thing for it to do and will provide a method by which complaints can be made and investigations made and suggestions, even though they be but voluntary for remedying evils, that would be helpful.

I do not know of anything I can say about the complaint of the employees of the Government Printing Office. I understood there were some removals there because the Government is not doing as much printing as it formerly did and there was not work for all those who were employed there at the present time.

I haven’t chosen any successor to the Alien Property Custodian. I have several names under consideration. A Mr. Wilson over there, and a Judge Abbott over there, have been suggested to me, and several others whose names I do not recall, on the outside of the department.

In relation to the Government Printing Office, I have indicated my desire to investigate any alleged violation of the laws in the discharge of any employees, and to remedy any such violations if found to have any existence in fact.

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

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

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