Reassessing the Coolidge Legacy

Despite poor reviews from most historians, Silent Cal presided over a robust economy, surpluses, serious reductions in the national debt and generally very good times.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2013

Amity Shlaes, Coolidge, 576 pp., $35.00.

AMITY SHLAES, the economic historian who almost single-handedly forced a reappraisal of the 1930s with her best-selling The Forgotten Man, now sets out to do the same for Calvin Coolidge, one of our forgotten presidents—and, where not forgotten, imperfectly remembered or purposely misrepresented.

In Where They Stand, his book on presidential performance, Robert Merry, editor of this magazine, writes of Calvin Coolidge and his low standing among historians:

By the standard of voter assessment, he merits respect for retaining the presidency after his nineteen-month incumbency [after succeeding Warren G. Harding, who died in office] and then retaining it for his party four years later. He presided over peace, prosperity, and domestic tranquility for nearly six years. . . . and Coolidge detractors might inquire whether their ratings stem from the fact that he was among the twentieth century’s most concise exponents of limited government.

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