"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Calvin Coolidge

This 1956 portrait of Calvin Coolidge by Joseph E. Burgess, after Ercole Cartotto, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Americans expect their presidents to be active, which explains why Calvin Coolidge has been labeled by historians as the 'quiet president' and an 'American enigma.' Coolidge was propelled to national prominence, and the vice presidency, by his decision, while governor of Massachusetts, to fire striking officers in Boston's police strike of 1919, proclaiming, 'there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.' Assuming the presidency after Warren Harding's death in 1923, Coolidge determined not to do anything to upset American prosperity. Upon election to the presidency, Coolidge, in his 1925 inaugural address the first on radio expressed his belief that 'the peopJe of America [should] ... work less for the government and more for themselves.... That is the chief meaning of freedom.' When Coolidge left office, political commentator Walter Lippmann wrote, 'Surely no one will write of those years ... that an aggressive president altered the destiny of the Republic. Yet ... no one will write ... that the Republic wished its destiny to be altered.'" -- National Portrait Gallery

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