Letter from Frank Stearns to Calvin Coolidge

Date: August 8, 1927

Context: Stearns comments on Coolidge’s decision not to run for President in 1928. On August 2, while on vacation in South Dakota, Coolidge called an impromptu press conference at his Summer White House office in the Rapid City Central High School. The president then handed out slips of paper to the assembled reporters on which were written: “I do not choose to run for President in nineteen twenty-eight.”

My dear Mr.  Coolidge:

I have tried every day since your announcement was made to write you a letter and each day I have backed off.  I shall not make any thorough attempt now.  I would rather talk with you some time.  If I say that I am glad you made the statement it might sound as though I had changed my mind about you as President.  If I say that it leaves you in a wonderful position in case you are drafted, it might sound as if I questioned your genuineness in making the statement.  Of course neither of these things is true.  But the more I think about it the surer I am that the statement was wise, could not be improved in its wording, and was timely.  

As I understand it, you have announced that you had a choice, that is to say that you could have had the nomination if you wanted it.  That is certainly true.  You have announced that you do not expect any contingency which will make it necessary for you to accept the nomination. You have not said that under no circumstances would you accept the nomination. I don’t think you would have a right to say that unless there was something in your health that made it obligatory.  Whether such a contingency will arise is not a question worth considering right now.  It very well may occur.  But in any event one thing seems to be certain. It removes all question of a campaign for delegates for you, and your real friends will be loyal to what amounts to orders from you.  If the contingency suggested should arise, it will then be perfectly evident to every honest person that it is a case of being drafted.  

The feeling with regard to the position you have taken is quite unanimous so far as people I have met are concerned, and some of them are people naturally critical, who have been critical of various positions you have taken, for example the cancellation of the debts.  One of the most critical along such lines that I have met, was almost in tears the other day and said that it was a catastrophe.  A Salem man perhaps expressed it as well as anyone.  He is a man of high business standing.  He said that we should feel as if we had notice from the doctor that a member of our family was at the point of death, and that it is a member of the family on whom we all lean for guidance.  We should pray that the Lord will save his life, and that the people of the country will find some way of making their real desires effective.  This is sketchy, but the best I can do.  


F W Stearns

Citation: Coolidge Family Papers, Vermont Historical Society

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The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Craig Eyermann, who prepared this document for digital publication

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