Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Tuesday September 9, 2014 is Primary Day in Massachusetts!

Who would Coolidge vote for?

The answer is a simple one. Calvin Coolidge would tell his constituents to get out and vote, to care about their government, and to exercise their duty as citizens. As you make your decision whether or not to go to the polls and then how to vote, remember the words of Calvin Coolidge, "We have a tendency to be too indifferent before primaries and elections and too critical after. Public officers can and do exercise large influence over our daily life but the main course of events is in our own hands." 
From a November 4, 1930 newspaper column

Monday, June 30, 2014

Vice President Charles Dawes-Part 2

Coolidge left the selection of his vice presidential candidate to the 1924 convention delegates since that was how he had gotten the nomination in 1920. The Republican convention first nominated Illinois Governor Frank Lowden. He had already said he would not accept the office and promptly declined. So the convention turned to Charles G. Dawes, Harding’s Director of the Bureau of the Budget. See the last post for Dawes’ background.

Dawes campaigned hard and after the ticket won office in a Republican landslide, he made several mistakes early in his tenure. Even before being sworn in, he baffled Coolidge by saying he would not attend cabinet meetings. Coolidge was the first vice president to attend these meetings at the invitation of Harding and felt  it was important. Coolidge does not mention Dawes in his autobiography, but says this about the vice presidency, “If the Vice-President is a man of discretion and character…he should be in the Cabinet because he might become President and ought to be informed on the policies of the administration…My experience in the Cabinet was of supreme value to me when I became President.” (Coolidge, Autobiography, page 163-164)

It was the custom at that time that the vice president was inaugurated inside the Senate Chambers where he gave a few remarks. So on March 4, 1925, after taking the oath, Dawes lectured the gathered senators for about one half hour, advocating changes in the seniority system and limits on the use of the filibuster. The senators were not happy and neither was Coolidge, because the press focused on Dawes remarks more than the president’s inaugural address.

Later, Dawes left Capitol Hill to take a nap when Coolidge’s nominee for attorney general, Charles Warren, was up for confirmation in the Senate. There was an unexpected tie which the vice president could break, if he could get back in time. Unfortunately, he did not return to the chambers in time, a pro vote change to a ‘no’ vote, and the candidate was defeated. It was the first rejection of a cabinet appointee since the presidency of Andrew Johnson, and Coolidge held Dawes responsible.

Dawes served out his term out of favor with the president, but was appointed ambassador to Britain (1929–32) by Herbert-Hoover His home in Illinois is preserved as the Evanston Historical Center.

Dawes has the distinction of being the only vice president to write the melody, but not the lyrics, to a No. 1 pop single. He knew it as “Melody in A Major” which he composed in 1911. It is too bad this multi-talented man did not live to get solace from the lyrics penned in 1958, “It’s All in the Game.”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vice President Dawes

Illustrious ancestors, a profitable business career, and remarkable civilian and military government service does not guarantee successful electoral office.  In Calvin Coolidge’s world, no one better demonstrates this than his vice president, Charles Gates Dawes. Although one of his forebears was the William Dawes who rode with Paul Revere to warn Lexington and Concord that the British were coming, Charlie Dawes never recovered from some missteps early in his vice presidential term.

Born in Ohio, Dawes made his name in business and banking in Lincoln, Nebraska and later Chicago, Illinois, after graduating from Marietta College. He turned to politics as an Illinois campaign worker for President William McKinley, who appointed him Comptroller of the Currency, a post he held from 1898 to 1901. He immediately ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator from Illinois in 1902, but lost to Albert J. Hopkins (R), the eventual winner, who was backed by the new president, Theodore Roosevelt.

Dawes then returned to banking until World War I when he was head of supply procurement for the American Expeditionary Force in France and became a brigadier general.  He received a nickname when testifying in front of a congressional committee looking into overspending during the war. When a member of the committee asked Dawes if it was true that excessive prices were paid for mules in France, he replied, “Hell and Maria, I'd have paid horse prices for sheep, if the sheep could have pulled artillery to the front!” Thus he was ‘Hell and Maria’ Dawes or ‘Helen Maria’ Dawes, as he always insisted.

Dawes was appointed the first Director of the Bureau of the Budget in 1921 by President Harding. He served on the Allied Reparations Commission negotiating with European colleagues to find a plan for Germany to pay war compensation to the victors. The Dawes Plan provided for a reorganization of German finances with loans from American investors. For his effort, he shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. He gave the money from the prize to Johns Hopkins University. Unfortunately, the plan was not a long term solution, and the German economy collapsed.

Many have struggled with being vice president of this country. Dawes was one of them in part because he had strong convictions and self-confidence, but the office does not lend itself to advocating for a cause. See the next blog posting for Dawes’ troubles in the office.