Dedication of the President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center
Governor Jim Douglas
Plymouth Notch, VT
August 7, 2010
I would like to express the appreciation of the people of Vermont to the board of directors, as well as the staff and 600-plus members of the Coolidge Foundation for their work in promoting the state historical site at Plymouth Notch and the legacy of Calvin Coolidge.
I would also like to thank John Dumville, operations director of the historic sites; William Jenney, the regional site administrator; and all of the Division Staff for their hard work.
This museum is a fitting tribute to our nation’s 30th President, and a testament to how his early experiences in Plymouth Notch shaped the life of Calvin Coolidge.
Coolidge was a product of a different time, but his commitment to public service is one that transcends history. He was the President that held more, distinct public offices than any other. He was a councilman, city solicitor, city court clerk, state representative, mayor, state senator, lt. governor, governor, vice-president and, finally, president – inaugurated here by his father 87 years ago. It was only a race for the school board that he lost – reportedly because he had no children at the time.
And it was his modesty and restraint in governing – virtues that came to be associated with his frugal, pragmatic Vermontupbringing – that makes him a fine example of leadership today.
That he was a capitalist is indisputably true: It likely that no president may have better articulated the importance of private property and free markets to the production of both wealth and liberty on a scale that our country has witnessed.
He was also passionate believer in the indomitable human spirit and its capacity for good.
This combination of confidence and faith in the American people, as well as his common sense and wit, made Coolidge an extremely popular president.
Coolidge was so renowned for his taciturn modesty and restraint in his personal conduct that it became the object of humor, most famously upon his death when writer Dorothy Parker, being informed of the president’s passing, asked “How can they tell?”
And while the legend of his frugal disposition, in words and fiscal matters, is well known, it is not the full story of the man. For example, President Coolidge was, indeed, a prolific communicator – giving an average of 8 press conferences a month during his presidency.
Calvin Coolidge was, at the end of the day, an optimist when it came to the American ideal and spirit.
A full understanding of his life, his service and his presidency are important to the understanding of our state and our nation’s history – as well as whom we are today.
This new facility will, undoubtedly, further that understanding of Coolidge, his time and what he continues to mean today.
Thank you again for inviting me to share in this celebration.