Calvin Coolidge: Impact and Legacy


Calvin Coolidge was a firm believer in righteous living. This made him a firm supporter of the common welfare. He understood that the government was for the people and by the people. His belief in a sound government led to his stand in favor of the right to hold property under lawful taxation, the prosperity of all citizens, and charity.  

Coolidge believed in a sound government that governed its people based on the rightful foundations laid out by the United States Constitution.  The document guarantees the citizens of its nation the right to hold property and protection from unlawful taxation. Consequently, he favored the citizens he governed to keep their poverty over the government taking shares of it through high taxation. In his speech, Economy in the Interest of All, he expressed that taxing was, “the power to destroy,” and taking an amount of property was another way of saying that a man, “for a certain proportion of his time…must work for the government.” He believed that an owned property belonged entirely to its owner, and any taxes which were not necessary were wrong, against the public welfare, and imposing on individual freedom.

Private property in private hands was an ideal that Coolidge supported as it stemmed from his stand regarding property rights. He believed that private property was better in the hands of those who own them because it benefited all Americans and enabled them to provide for themselves and their families. In his speech, 1925 Inaugural Address, he conveyed that the only obligation Americans had to their property was to be “charged with a service.” for the moral benefit of society. Coolidge described America as a country that, “believes in prosperity,” and to prosper in it, better property rights were paramount.

Taxation and charity are similar in the sense that they are essential for the welfare of the commonwealth. Nevertheless, they are different because taxes are paid, and charity is given out of generosity. While both can be bad, the negative effect of excessive taxation,  in the “1925 Inaugural Address,” is, “legalized larceny.” However, the negative effect of ill charity is expressed as, “encouragement of pauperism,” in his speech “Discriminating Benevolence.” Coolidge believed that while negative taxation causes legal-governmental theft, bad charity causes beggary. Therefore, the two systems, created for the same goal, are impact society differently.

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