A Coolidge address that lives on…in misquotations

87 years ago today, on January 17, 1925, president Coolidge addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He couldn’t know it at the time, but his address contained the words that in the intervening years have most often been misquoted and misappropriated for use against him – “the chief business of the American people is business.” No one who reads the whole address, or even the passage of it that contains the quote, will confirm the widespread erroneous impression that Coolidge speaks for crass materialism, or for a Babbitt-like myopic focus on the accumulation of wealth. Indeed, as he unequivocally states, “The chief ideal of the American people is idealism.”