Coolidge Presidency (1923-29)

Figure 1.--Here we see President Coolidge with a delegation of visitors from Indiana on June 12, 1925.

Coolidge's major goals as president were to cut taxes which had been raused during World War I, reduce government spending. and to keep America from any foreign entanglements. He succeeded in these efforts. President Coolidge in his first message to Congress proposed a domestic policy of tax cuts, limited spending, and limited aid to farmers and a foreign policy of isolation in foreign policy (December 1923). President Coolidge in his Inaugural Adressed told Americans that the country had achieved "a state of contentment seldom before seen," and pledged himself to maintain the status quo (March 1925). He was true to his word and continued the policies established in his first term. American immigration lawswere reformed during the Coolidge presudency, but this was primarily a Congressional iniative. The Coolidge Afministratiin did not have an active foreign policy, but continued to finnce German World War I reparations, The major foreign policy iniative ilusionary was the Kellog-Briand Pact. The Bonus Bill for veterans was passed over the President's veto.

Domestic Policies

Coolidge was determined to reduce Federal government spending. He was committed to traditional moral principles. The American economy had recovered from the post-War recession and Coolidge was opposed to any kind of Government tinkering with the economy. Some Congressman wanted the Federal Government to come to the aid of farmers who were not participating in the economic boom of the Roaring 20s. Coolidge resisted these efforts. For Coolidge, "the chief business of the American people is business". And while he was disinclined to use the Government to assust farmers or even Americans in distress because of natural disasters (flooding along the Missippi and Tennessee Rivers), he did getvCongressional approval to raises tariffs which helped increase business profits. Coolidge saw himself as a prationer of laissez faire. Somehow in did not occur to him that raising tariffs was hardly laissez faire. It was Coolidge who signed the immigration bill into law (1924). It was the most sweeping Immigration Act of 1924 into law. It was the most significant immigration reform in American history and sunstantially reduced the flow of immigrants. Immigration was restricted to 150,000 individuals annually and quotas were set to favor immigrants from Northern Europe over Southern Europeans and Jews. Japanese immigrants were totally excluded. Coolidge vetoed two Congressional efforts to pass farm relief bills. He also vetied a plan for the Federal Government to build sams to produce electric power on the flood-prone Tennessee River. Taxes were cut that had been imposed during World War I (1924 and 26). The Congress passed a Veteran's Bonus over Coolidge's veto. It granted veterans insurance redeemable in 20 years. He spoke out for civil rights n sharp contrast to President Wilson. He refused to appoint individuals connected with the Klan.

Defense Spending

President Coolidge's attitude toward defense spending was strongly influenced by his desire to reduce taxes and limit Federal spending. He continued the policy of keeping appropriationd for the Army low--excep for aviation. The Navy was different. With two great oceans on its coastsand while aviation was still in its infanct, the Navy was seen as America's primary defensive bulwark. President Coolidge appointed Curtis D. Wilbur, a jurist, to be his Secretary of the Navy (March 1924). He was Coolidge's firt cabint appointment. Wilbur had no naval bavkground except atending the Nabal Accademy. He was chosen for his reputation as a man of high intellect and 'unimpeachable integrity'. He began a sweeping progrm of modernization. He began working with Congress to ensure adequate funding for an operational Fleet. He promoted naval education, argued for building new cruisers, began aviation courses at Annapolis, backed the development of the air-cooled aviation engines, and recognized foreign trets and spoke out about them. As a result, by the end of the Coolidge Administration (1929) Wilbur had overseen the enlarging and modernizing of the fleet and had established a naval air arm that would ply a major role in the Pacific War. Wilbur helped move a Five Year Building Program thrugh Congress. Congress passed an Act (1926). It authorized a substantial expansion of the Navy's air arm to a strength of 1,000 planes and two dirigibles over a 5-year period. The Navy's Five-Year Program of 1926 was a comparable to an expansion program for the Army Air Corps that was also known as the Five-Year Plan. Both these programs were authorized in 1926, but only actually received their first appropriations fir FY28, and were both were intended to be completed by FY33. Neither prgrams were fully funded, in part becaue of the advent of the Great Depression (1929). America would enter World war II unprepare, but the foundation for U.S. Navy's arrier force that held the line in the Pacifiv after Pearl Harbor was laid iby the Coolidge Administration.

Foreign Policy

The doreign policy of the Republican administrations after World War I have been generally called isolationism. This isot altogether correct, but the three Republican Adnonistratiins did reject security ties with World war I Allies. The Coolidge Afministratiin did not have an active foreign policy, but continued to finance German World War I reparations, Coolidge continued the policy set by Senate Republicans of refusing to join the League of Nations. He also refused to join the World Court in the Hague. The ilusonary Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed by fifteen countries who pledged that war was not a viable method for settling international disputes, essentially outlawing war (1928). It was the work of Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand.


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Created: 5:47 AM 5/22/2010
Last changed: 7:17 AM 7/15/2016