Friday, December 6, 2013


December 6, 2013


Washington, D.C.  (JFK+50) On this day 90 years ago, December 6, 1923, President Calvin Coolidge was heard "by more people than...any man in history" according to the New York Times.

President Coolidge's address to the United States Congress was broadcast on "six powerful radio stations," that would enable, according to engineers, "a million persons (to) hear (his) voice..."

Amity Shlaes writes in his recent COOLIDGE biography...

"The technology added to the glamour but also fueled the anxiety."

The radio broadcast began at 12 Noon (EST) with the President's address airing at 12:30 p.m.

Radio stations carrying the broadcast included WEAF, WCAP, WJAR, and WFAA.  Other outlets included AT&T and the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company.

Shlaes describes the scene:

"A packed House of Representatives was waiting when Coolidge arrived to speak.  Mrs. Coolidge sat with Mrs. New, the wife of the postmaster general; Alice (Roosevelt) Longworth and Samuel Gompers were also in reserved seats."

Mr. Coolidge began his speech by paying tribute to President Warren G. Harding who had passed away just months earlier.  He then discussed foreign affairs.

"We attend to our own affairs...but we recognize...our obligation to help others.  We know the inescapable law of service."

Coolidge said that he did not favor the cancellation of debt owed to the United States as a result of loans provided during the war.  Great Britain owed $4.6 billion while other nations combined owed $7.2 billion.

He continued...

"Our main problem is domestic.  Financial stability is the first requisite of sound government.  Being opposed to war taxes in time of peace, I am not in favor of excess-profits taxes.  To reduce war taxes is to give every home a better chance."

The 1920s was the era of prohibition, sometimes called "the noble experiment."  The President said it was up to him and the Congress to provide laws that were "adequate to prevent violation" of the prohibition amendment.

On the issue of civil rights, Mr. Coolidge said that the 12 million "colored people" of the Nation possessed rights under the Constitution "just as sacred as those of any other citizen."

And on education and welfare, the President said...

"Enlightenment must be accompanied by that moral power which is the product of home and rebellion. 

Real education and true welfare for the people rest inevitably on this foundation which the Government can approve and commend, but which the people themselves must create."

President Calvin Coolidge concluded his First Address to Congress, 7000 words long, by saying...

"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."

Amity Shlaes writes...

"This speech impressed Coolidge's audience beyond anything it had expected."

France liked the speech, as did American industry, and radio, Shlaes says, proved complimentary to Silent Cal's "clear voice."


"Calvin Coolidge's First Annual Message, The American Presidency Project,

"Coolidge," by Amity Shlaes, Harper, New York, 2013.

"On this Day,"  New York Times, December 5, 1923,

President Coolidge
Arlington National Cemetery
National Photo Company
Library of Congress Image (1924)