Press Conference, September 4, 1925

Date: September 4, 1925

Location: Washington, D.C.

(Original document available here)

Before I forget it, I have just had a short conference with some people that are interested in the Department of Education, I am committed to that provision for a Department that is provided for in the general reorganization bill. I don’t know that it will be impossible to satisfy me with anything else, but if there is to be anything, I want the reorganization bill to go through and have a Department of Education and relief established in accordance with the provisions of that bill. That is my general feeling about that question.

Press: Who was the conference with?

President: With Mr. Smith, Commissioner of Education here in Mass., Mr. Filene and Mrs. Bagley.

Press: What Filene was that?

President: E. A. or A. Lincoln, Mr. Sanders?

Mr. Sanders: A. Lincoln Filene.

Press: Do their views coincide with yours?

President: I tried to say that they didn’t. In so far as I could understand, they have got a proposition for a Department of Education simply, though they told me that their bill, proposed bill, was drawn with the idea that if it seemed best to include those other things in it they wouldn’t expect to oppose their inclusion. As I have said a moment ago, I don’t know that I couldn’t be convinced that something else would do, but so far as I have given any attention to the question, it has brought me to the conclusion that if we wanted to do anything about a Department of Education it ought to he a Department of Education and Relief, where the head of it would correspond somewhat to the head of a university who has under him perhaps the regular college course, and he may have a school of engineering, he may have a school of medicine, a school of theology, a school of law, a school of pharmacy, and so on; but he is still the head of an educational institution, and just because he might have a school of pharmacy it doesn’t make him an apothecary. The educational people seem to think if they had a Secretary of Education and Relief it would probably make a pill doctor of the Secretary. I don’t share that thought about it. I think the head of such a department would partake of the nature of the head of a university that may have education in a good many lines, some of them quite analogous to the relief that would come under the provisions of the bill that is proposed. Now, I agree with these people, I think, as far as they go, but if there is anything to he done in that direction, I think action should he so taken as to take in the different departments that we have that are now operated as bureaus. Take the Veterans Bureau, I think it spends more money than is spent by the Army, more than is spent by the Navy, and while we have a man there that is certainly of Cabinet size, yet it is done through the agency of a bureau instead of being done through the agency of a cabinet officer.

Press: This Department would include the Public Health Service, wouldn’t it?

President: Yes.

I don’t know what the House will plan to do about the tax bill. That Committee, Chairman Green told me, was going to meet very early in the fall and find out what conditions are and just what kind of a bill they could pass. I had expected that it would he made applicable to incomes earned during this year – that is the inquiry here – but of course that is for the House to decide. They originate revenue bills. I am very glad to confer with them and give them any information I have and the benefit of any judgment that I may have. I am waiting to see what they think conditions require.

I imagine that I shall go back to Washington next week, though I haven’t set any time for it. It isn’t set.

I don’t think I can say anything new about the Shenandoah disaster. It is an appalling catastrophe on account of its loss of life. The property loss was a good deal, but not nearly so troublesome as the loss of life.

I have got quite a number of questions as to the reason why the Shenandoah was taking the trip. About that I haven’t any information. Of course it is customary if there is a celebration anywhere for those who are having it to come to Washington and ask if the Los Angeles or Shenandoah can’t he sent. I noticed one of these ships in the air when we were having the celebration at Cambridge on the third of July, and there have been a great many appeals from different organizations all over the country. Now what has been the practice of the Secretary of Agriculture about sending out the Shenandoah, I don’t know. Whether he orders it out or whether he leaves it to the discretion of the officer in command of it, I don’t know. I noticed some suggestion here that the Secretary said he left it to the discretion of the officer in command, and if Secretary Wilbur said that, I don’t think there is any occasion for questioning it. I haven’t any information about any plans that may have been conceived or entered into for lightening the ship. I have no information about that at all. Never heard of it.

I haven’t made any change in my plans for a Disarmament Conference. I am simply waiting for what may seem to be an appropriate time, as I have explained several times to the conference. Now, no Ambassador has yet been selected for Japan and probably won’t be before I return to Washington.

To return to the Shenandoah – I suppose that would mean that I am speaking now of my general judgment and without having the benefit of any technical advice which might cause me to change my opinion – I suppose it would mean that we should build another airship. I don’t see that the loss of the airship differs in principle in any way from the loss of a war vessel. When one is lost, the ordinary thing is to go about and build another. My own observation has been that those who have been in command have not only been willing but anxious to take it out at any time that they thought was appropriate. I understood they were quite disappointed because a year and a half ago I thought it would be too dangerous to take the ship out to undertake to fly over the North Pole. We only had one airship at that time. I understood that the officers were especially anxious to make that attempt and they were confident that the climatic conditions up there and the air conditions were such that it wouldn’t be so dangerous as it would be flying over the United States.

I haven’t read what President Lewis has said about the coal strike, and all I know about Mr. Hammond’s suggestion is what is contained in the report that was made to Congress as a result of the investigation by the Coal Commission. I think Mr. Hammond was the Chairman, and I think the main part of that I recommended to Congress for their consideration, assuming that it was well considered and was the best thing that anyone knew that could be done at that time.

I haven’t any information about political conditions in the northwest, other than that which is common knowledge. I don’t know about Mr. Butler’s – Senator Butler’s – western trip. I didn’t know that that had been announced. I knew he was talking of going to Chicago where he thought some of those that are interested in the welfare of the Republican Party might like to come in and confer with him. That is the only trip I have heard any discussion about. I haven’t any information at all about the Wisconsin Senatorial situation. There isn’t any foundation in any report, if there is any such report, and I doubt if there is any, but it says here that Senator Butler will become a member of my Cabinet.

I think General Andrews is making very good progress in his effort to organize a force for the enforcement of the law.

I hadn’t expected that compulsory consolidation of railroads would be necessary. All that I have ever been able to arrive at in the way of conclusion has already been stated in my messages, which was that we might pass some legislation that would be helpful in securing voluntary consolidations, with a provision perhaps that if voluntary consolidations were not brought about it then might be necessary for the Government to turn its attention to taking some steps to enforce consolidations. Now I don’t know what steps could be taken in that direction and I doubt very much if the Government should say that Railroad A must purchase and consolidate with Railroad B, but they might pass some kind of legislation that would make it to the advantage of Railroad A to consolidate with Railroad B. I have never been in to the details of that enough. I haven’t worked out or seen any plan worked out for anything in the nature of compulsory consolidations, but I think it is very materially for the welfare of our transportation systems that there should be consolidations, and I think the Government ought to encourage them in every way that it can. It would simplify very much the matter of freight rates and give an opportunity to reorganize rates. If a railroad is carrying nothing but sheet iron, why it has a sort of a right to have the freight rate on sheet iron such a sum as will enable it to make a living, but if that railroad is consolidated with roads that carry a great variety of merchandise it would be perfectly possible to bring down the rate on sheet iron or any other commodity where that system would still have a very adequate income, and in that way give new encouragement to the production of sheet iron. The same would apply to agricultural products or anything of that kind.

I would say that of course I have got two members from New England in and my Cabinet, and while I am very much in favor of this part of the country and l would be willing to admit that it produces men that are capable administrators of public affairs, I am President of the whole United States and can’t crowd everything in here. But of course I attempted to have an Attorney General that came from Michigan and conditions were such that I couldn’t accomplish that, so I had to turn to New England because the country was in a pinch. That is some times done and is a good rule to follow, but I don’t think the country would need to have three members of the Cabinet from this part of the country, and if any of them should retire, I don’t think the country would expect me to have two members of the Cabinet from New England.

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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