MassMoments: Calvin Coolidge Sworn-In as President

In these times when immigration is still a hot button issue, the tea party movement and protests have emerged and questions continue about the rights, agenda and activism of unions, it is important to pay attention to this reminder from Mass Moments that on this day – August 3 – in 1923 upon the death of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge – citizen of Northampton and former Governor of Massachusetts – was sworn in as President of the United States.

“Silent Cal” had been the Republican governor of Massachusetts, little known outside the state, until the Boston police strike of 1919 catapulted him into the national spotlight. Coolidge was quick to gain political advantage from the situation. “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he proclaimed. In this turbulent period, when many Americans feared the country was being overrun by immigrants, radicals, and militant trade unionists, the voters found his law and order stance and his image as an old-fashioned, rustic Yankee farmer profoundly reassuring. Within a year of the strike, Coolidge was elected Vice President.

Read the rest of the story here at Masss Moments.

3 Responses to MassMoments: Calvin Coolidge Sworn-In as President

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    Crushing the Boston Police Strike led by what all Boston newspapers in the ealry 1920s called Bolshevik elemets was what got Silent Cal noticed by the Republican Party establishment and led to his upward flight. Funny thing is when the strike broke out Cal headed for the hills of western MA so he would not have to make any decisions about what to do with the demands of the strking cops, who had not had a raise since the 1890s and were actually forced to purchase their own boots and bullets out of their lowly wages. Trolley brakemen made more than the cops.

    In many respects this was a stand off between the Irish leadership of the police and the old Wasp leadership of the city. It also fanned rising anti-immigrant hysteria in the country. This could only be a Bolshevik plot, the Boston Globe trumpeted.

    Coolidge rode back into town after the strike began, worked to mobilize the National Guard, which was joined by the Harvard University football team, to return order to the city of Boston and the strike soon fizzled out. Strikers did not get their jobs back, much like what Ronad Reagan did when he crushed the early 1980s air traffic controllers’ strike.

    Seems lots of Republicans earn their stripes crushing the working class. BTW, Harvard students also showed up on the side of the mill owners in Lawrence during the Bread & Roses strike in 1912.
    Surprised? I’m not.

  2. Andrew says:

    Ah, but today Harvard students can be found protesting layoffs of university employees. And while the students and administration may disagree over that issue, there is a broad commitment now from both groups to public service, especially since President Faust began her tenure.

    Institutions can change. Even the Republicans did for a while, when Eisenhower made his peace with the New Deal. Why they now want a return to the Gilded Age, or Twenties, is beyond me.