In his column for April 25, 1931, the former president turned his attention to the question of historical perspective. Of course, popular esteem of his own person and presidency waxed and waned over the years; we are now roughly at that point in time where his era is as distant to us as 1845 was to the readers of his column. While I would be reluctant to characterize the Hoover years as a period when “the country met its difficulties remarkably well”, certainly Coolidge’s own acumen as a statesman is due for a reassessment.
Contemporary opinion is usually too critical and often misdirected. In the perspective of history many of our present seeming imperfections will disappear and the good qualities of our society and government will be more apparent. Before becoming entirely discouraged and hastily deciding everything has so deteriorated that confidence is no longer warranted, it would be well to read some former opinions. Discouraging conclusions are not new. They have continually been expressed even by the able and the thoughtful from the foundation of our republic. As judicially minded a man as Chancellor Kent wrote in 1845, “I think we have at Washington the meanest man, malignant, party hacks and tools that ever were doomed to curse a republic.” Yet the country not only survived, but the government of that day is now conceded to have included some of our most brilliant statesmen.
Sometimes the whole body of the Congress falls into disfavor because of the actions of a few members. The blame lies with the voters who elect undesirable persons. When elected, other members have to work with them.
This republic has a good government. The future undoubtedly will judge this period as a time when the country met its difficulties remarkably well.