Calvin Coolidge as blogger?

Well, it’s not quite as far-fetched as it seems. In those distant decades long before the internet was invented, other media fulfilled those same purposes, chief among them daily newspapers. A daily column in a newspaper may be likened to a blog, in that it had to be fresh, topical, and interesting. Coolidge wrote a daily syndicated newspaper column (“Calvin Coolidge Says”) for exactly one year, from June 1930 to June 1931. The former president had been courted by a number of news organizations to write columns or articles of varying formats. He finally settled on the New York-based McClure Newspaper Syndicate, maybe because that firm’s chief, Richard H. Waldo, was more persistent than most. It was a lucrative deal for both parties, but especially for the former president who contractually received 60 percent net of the gross sales, against which a weekly advance of  $ 3,000 was deposited in his account. Author Edward Connery Lathem, who compiled a complete collection of the columns that was published by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation in 1972, calculates that Coolidge’s total income for one year of writing amounted to $ 203,146.91 – quite a substantial sum for the time  (or any time).

I’ll republish and comment on some of Coolidge’s columns in this blog over the next few months, which is to say, exactly 80 years after they were originally written and published, selecting those I feel contain timeless and pertinent observations.

While Coolidge adapted to the task quickly and at first even looked forward to his daily task, he soon tired of it. To the surprise of many, he did not renew the contract after one year, even as newspapers were clamoring for more Coolidge. The reasons he gave were that he felt he’d covered every subject, that the daily deadline was too confining, that he was uneasy about the income in times of depression, and that, with the 1932 elections looming, he did not want to argue partisan politics. Ultimately, as related by U.S. Senator George H. Moses in his eulogy of Coolidge, given March 15, 1933, “the preparation of his daily articles became to him an obsessionate dread, and (…) the constant thought of it wore upon him more grievously than the most arduous of his labors in the Presidency” – a feeling not unknown to the blogger of today who wants to keep his blog pipeline filled with fresh material, ideally on a daily basis.

Cover of the 1972 volume of Coolidge's collected columns (how's that for alliteration?)

2 thoughts on “Calvin Coolidge as blogger?

  1. Hi Kai

    I have wanted to ask your permission for something but didn’t get to it because of my other pressures.

    If I start counting names I get more than the fingers on one hand of people who would enjoy your Coolidge theme and I had been thinking of submitting a Post with the headline ‘A man who Blogs on President Coolidge’ and then I stumbled into this Post.

    I am even more sure now that I will get you a few more readers. Having been here it may look a bit contrived but I had really genuinely considered it before I got here. May I do that.

    Do me and you a favor and read one of my Posts. I won’t bother you with details now. It was a simple little Post but it shows something that I would like you to experience. It is really a teaser; if I tell you it will spoil the fun.

    But read it when you get the time.

    Follow the comments closely please. I’m off. Oh, almost forgot in my excitement. This Post of yours is a very fine piece of work.

    • Hi Ike,
      first off, I’m sorry if I can’t always be very prompt in responding or if I sometimes won’t be able to respond at all… I do work during the week, and weekends also have a way of filling up with other stuff, so I sometimes feel lucky if I can update the blog just occasionally. Also, I’m sorry I haven’t really been giving your blog as much attention as you apparently have been giving mine, and for the same reasons. That said, I would be delighted if you would spread the word about my blog to such people as you feel might find it interesting.
      I have indeed read the post you linked to, and the comments. Please help me along as to what specific thing I should be taking away… the Dutch in New York? I’m actually a big fan of the Dutch (notwithstanding the fact that German/Dutch relations haven’t always been smooth, particularly in the last century)… while I live in/near Berlin now, my hometown is Duesseldorf, on the Rhine, and very close to the Netherlands, so I’ve been there often and I like the country and its people a lot. I was aware of the history of “New Amsterdam”… and I love the stories written by Washington Irving (such as “Sleepy Hollow”) that have a lot of Dutch placenames and names in them. A favorite author of mine, John Updike (of Dutch ancestry himself) has also written much that at least mentions the Pennsylvania Dutch.
      OK, I’m rambling here. By all means, be in touch…and I’ll try and keep up with your blog at least half as much as you do with mine 🙂
      Best regards, ~Kai

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