Calvin Coolidge - The early coolidge program



During his first fifteen months in office, Calvin Coolidge had shown himself to be an astute administrator and politician. This quality, as well as his basic conservatism, affected his policies. He had no serious disagreement with the policies of the Harding administration. Equally important, he believed that disaster would be visited on an "acting president" who made any wrenching changes in the course being sailed by the administration or the country. Coolidge was fully committed to seeking efficient and economical government. For him, this did not mean cutting back on existing programs, only in making them more effective. He could further cut federal taxes and the national debt in the belief that this would promote the nation's prosperity. This would be augmented by encouragement of business development, for the president believed that the "chief business of the American people is business." Yet Coolidge, no less than Harding, was interested in making changes, however modest.

In Coolidge's first message to Congress, on 6 December 1923, he had called for a moderate development of flood control, reforestation, electric power, and transportation facilities; the strengthening of the civil service; encouragement of farm cooperatives; and increased regulation of labor disputes, Alaskan fisheries, coastal water pollution, radio, and aviation. He showed his concern for black Americans by requesting action against lynching, increased support of their education, and establishment of a commission to seek harmony between the races in industrial areas. Immigration should be restricted, for, as he knew the great majority of members of Congress agreed, "America must be kept American." Whereas Harding had talked of establishing a federal department of welfare, Coolidge called for a department to encourage character development and education among the people. He also proposed constitutional amendments to set a minimum wage for women and to restrict child labor in industrial employment. All this, of course, was to be achieved within the guideline of having a surplus of federal revenues to apply to reducing the national debt.

The foreign policy goals that Coolidge outlined in his first message to Congress differed little from Harding's. Coolidge reiterated that the United States would not join the League of Nations, although he requested American membership on the World Court. The United States would not cancel the debts of other countries to it, although the administration was willing to negotiate further the terms of those obligations. There would be no recognition of the Soviet Union until it made amends for its perceived transgressions. The merit system should be extended to the nation's foreign service personnel. Overall, there would be a continuation of the Harding administration's foreign policy of promoting peace, goodwill among nations, commercial friendship, and negotiation of disputes. In large part, Coolidge asked Congress for what his executive agencies had recommended. He was to get little of it because of the preoccupation of senators and representatives with questions of scandal in 1924.





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