Coolidge on the Railroad Committee

Calvin Coolidge was only a relatively young 56 when he relinquished the presidency in 1929, yet his health was none too robust and he did not take on too much strenuous work in his retirement years.  For a while he wrote the widely syndicated newspaper column “Calvin Coolidge Says,” but the strain of having to write it wore on him and he disliked the constant press of deadlines.

tCoolidge did take on a number of board memberships or trusteeships, but his one instance of post-presidential government service occurred when president Hoover in 1932 appointed him chairman of the non-partisan National Transportation Committee, whose task it was to make recommendations concerning the burgeoning problems of the transportation industry. The committee also included financier Bernard M. Baruch and former New York governor and 1928 Democratic presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith.

Coolidge participated in several meetings of the commission in New York, the accompanying picture was taken on one of those occasions.

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Coolidge vs. Smith

In the autumn of 1930, former president Calvin Coolidge and former presidential candidate Alfred E. Smith  came out of retirement as a sort of grand finale to the Congressional campaign.  Characteristically, Citizen Coolidge chose the hushed solitude of a radio broadcasting studio at Springfield to appeal for the election of his old friend, William Morgan Butler, the Republican nominee for the Senate. Butler, who had briefly served out the Senate term of Henry Cabot Lodge, had been defeated in 1926 by Democrat David Walsh.  Equally in character, Citizen Smith chose the raucous, turbulent, packed-to-the-doors Boston Arena to plead for the election of Marcus Allen Coolidge, the Democratic nominee and a *very* distant relative of the former president (according to the Washington Post).

Marcus A. Coolidge ... family resemblance?

Smith had warmed up for his Massachusetts trip with three speeches for the State ticket in New York. He was in old time form, grinning much, champing his cigar, full of vigor and gusto. At New Haven on the back platform of his private car he greeted Dr. Wilbur Lucius Cross, onetime dean of the Yale Graduate School, now the Democratic nominee for Governor of Connecticut, by clapping the Brown Derby upon the old gentleman’s head and down over his ears. At Providence he bluntly began an address to 15,000: “Well, let’s get at it”—the “it” being a round flaying of the Republican administration. When the crowd booed his first mention of President Hoover, he waved them into silence with, “Don’t let’s take up the radio time.” (He pronounced it “raydio,” not “raddio” as he did in 1928.) A sample Smith crack of last week:

“Under a Republican Administration it is called a business depression. In a Democratic Administration they call it a panic. Somebody the other day called it a cycle. They ought to call it a bicycle because both Democrats and Republicans are being taken for a ride.”

At Boston, Stumpster Smith was given a popular reception hardly less warm than the one he received there two years ago as a White House candidate. In the arena an excited crowd of 12,000 yelled and screamed a five-minute welcome to him. His speech was another running fusillade of political criticism, with the speaker taking aim as of old with his phrases “Listen to this. . . . Well, what happened? . . . That’s history now. . . . Here’s the record. . . . Here’s a warm one. . . .” President Hoover was his main target. The house roared with joy when he asked: “Where are all those chickens that were to be in every pot? What became of the automobiles and the silk stockings for everybody?”

William M. Butler

After dark Citizen Coolidge motored down alone from Northampton to Springfield and went directly to the broadcasting studio in the Hotel Kimball.

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Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink – Coolidge and Prohibition

It is difficult for us today to grasp what a powerful issue Prohibition was in its heyday. We instinctively see the 18th Amendment as an aberration that was never fully accepted or enforced, and surmise that the nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was repealed in 1933, having been the law of the land for only about 14 years. If remembered at all, these years are recalled as a time of corruption and racketeering, while the widespread alcoholism and its attendant evils, which spawned the reform movement, are not focused on.

Liquor being poured down the drain during the height of Prohibition

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