As I Knew Them – Part II

Continuing in the memoirs of Sen. James E. Watson as they pertain to Calvin Coolidge, Watson completes his coverage of Coolidge’s first message to Congress. As in the previous installment, he stresses his point that Coolidge was underestimated at the time of his ascension to the presidency, and that people, particularly the GOP establishment, did not expect much of him either in terms of oratory or of leadership:

Coolidge closed his message with the following sentences, and they were really eloquent, contrary to the general belief that he was never eloquent.

“The world has had enough of the curse of hatred and selfishness, of destruction and war. It has had enough of the wrongful use of material power. For the healing of the nations there must be good will and charity, confidence and peace. The time has come for a more practical use of moral power, and more reliance upon the principle that right makes its own might. Our authority among the nations must be represented by justice and mercy. It is necessary not only to have faith, but to make sacrifices for our faith. The spiritual forces of the world make all its final determinations. It is with these voices that America should speak. Whenever they declare a righteous purpose there need be no doubt they will be heard. America has taken her place in the world as a republic – free, independent, powerful. The best service that can be rendered to humanity is the assurance that this place will be maintained.”

(Watson continues in his own voice:)

I must confess that I was greatly astounded at the eloquence of these declarations, uttered largely by peroration and for the purpose of putting a “cracker to his whip.” But they went over with deep effect, his entire speech was received with great applause as the assembled statesmen suddenly recognized in him a leader, the newspapers all over the country carried it with much ├ęclat, and the next Republican nominee for president became apparent the moment he pronounced his ultimate sentence.