Victory Speech at the Boston City Club

Date: November 3, 1920

Location: Boston, MA

Context: Speech celebrating Coolidge’s election as vice president of the United States of America

Mr. President, Gentlemen of the Boston City Club,

It is exceedingly kind of you to assemble here in such number to give me and my associates the greeting that you have extended to us. I noticed that I had an invitation to attend a Victory Luncheon. Seeing that it was written some time ago I thought it was taking somewhat of a chance (laughter), but as I investigated it I have found that it was not taking any chance, because it was to celebrate the victory of the President of your Club (laughter and applause). That is always in order, no matter how political elections happen to go.

I don’t know that I can explain the result of yesterday’s election. It is of such enormous character that no one can yet fully comprehend it. They refer to the man that only gets elected by 70,000 or 80,000, in the newspapers, as having a “narrow margin” (laughter), because all things are comparative. But it was the exhibition of a surprising unanimity on the part of the American people, of a desire to take hold of their own government themselves, to have a hand in running it, to have something to say about it (applause and cheers) in addition to merely making out tax returns (laughter) and paying taxes.

Our people have been exceedingly patient under the trying conditions that have confronted the country now for several years; but they are by nature an independent people, who want to live their own lives and work out their own destinies. They appreciate help and suggestions from the Government, but they don’t like intermeddling with all their daily affairs and an officious in-day-and-out examination of all their business activities. They want to get rid of that, if they can. We have had a time of great expenditures; but the people were prepared to make great sacrifices, and I doubt very much if they are going to complain about that. They would like to see now their money expended in a way that will insure them a full and adequate return for the sacrifice they make in raising it and paying it.

I think the election demonstrated one thing, and that is the great and over-mastering attachment of all American people to the fundamentals of our Constitution (applause). They have such a confidence in it that whenever they lack a knowledge of what to do, whenever they are beset with perplexities, they want to return to its provisions and live under it, and live by it and be governed in accordance with it.

Of course America expects to play her part among the nations of the earth (applause), not in any narrow and provincial way but in a broad and generous way, as we have been doing especially in the past few years, to meet our share of the burdens of civilization. Is there any other nation on earth to whom is due so much money from foreign nations as to the United States of America? Is there any other nation that is willing to take up the burdens of civilization and carry them on whenever the call comes, to a greater extent than has been manifested time and time again by the people of this nation of ours?

They want to look after America because they believe that looking after America is the first duty of all Americans (applause). And because they believe more than that, that unless that is done the hope of civilization will fade away—for unless we maintain ourselves and our freedom and our independence, and our ability to meet the expenditures of our government, there is not any hope that any other people anywhere on earth can meet that great burden.

So that we are serving America and serving it to the extent of our great ability when we look after the welfare of everything and everybody that is American, and I think that you can depend on the incoming Administration to adopt that, at all times, as a fixed and settled policy (applause). I think you will find it possessed of a broad and tolerant outlook. Unless I have misunderstood greatly the expressions that have come all through the campaign from our splendid leader, Senator Harding (cheers and applause), he is a man that is marked peculiarly by the characteristics of an open mind. He desires counsel in order that he may thereby seek for guidance. He desires the help of those who are constitutionally chosen to help administer the government, and he desires it not for a selfish or personal reason, but in order that he may better perform the duties of that great office which he is taking up. I know that he wants not merely your support, but he wants your sympathy, and he wants that characteristic that has marked him to also mark the people of the United States. As he is open-minded, and as he takes their counsel, so I feel that he wants them to take his counsel in order that, working together, all may bring about the welfare of this nation of ours.

I want to thank you, Mr. President, for inviting me here. It will be a consolation to me, it will be an inspiration to help carry on the burdens of the office that you have entrusted to me in the past, and to take up with a lighter heart the greater burdens that you have helped to entrust to me in the office that I am to fill in the future. (Prolonged applause, the members standing.)

Citation: Vermont Historical Society

The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Anne Cherico, who prepared this document for digital publication.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>