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Was Calvin Coolige a good president?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 11,682 times Debate No: 16331
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)




Calvin Coolidge was a bad president. He was a bad president for the reasons that not only did he appoint a bad cabinet, but then he refused to do anything and let the cabinet hasten the coming of the Great Depression. He also was racist and sexist in a nation that prides itself on freedom and justice for all.
The Ku Klux Klan claimed 5 million members in 1925, and marched to Washington, where it was received favorably. With abandon, it was murdering blacks, jews, catholics, and women who refused to be subordinate. Coolidge shared many of those views, particularly those on women.
It's hard to describe "nothing", which was his daily mantra. Andrew Mellon reduced taxes on business and the wealthy five times during his eight years as Secretary of the Treasury. Coolidge just smiled. As the budget dollars shrank, Coolidge's cabinet reduced their budgets, providing fewer and fewer services to America. Coolidge thought it a great thing.
In the most important piece of legislation passed during his time, Mellon cut estate taxes by 50%, repealed the gift tax, and reduced taxes on the rich by 75%. In one year federal revenues shrank 10%. This hastened the coming of the depression in many ways, not the least by giving the rich more money to buy stock at 10% of its value (the norm for the time). This expanded the effect the collapse had when suddenly money was needed – no one had any.
When news reached Dorothy Parker that Coolidge was dead, she responded saying "How can they tell?" This pretty much sums up how effective Calvin Coolidge was as a president... not very.


Greetings everyone,

Thanks for creating this debate, con. The burden of the proof lies with the con, since Calvin Coolidge was, at the time, an immensely popular candidate for Presidency. I have to assert that he deserved that popularity, while con must prove that he did not.

Consider the proof that the people were immensely fond of Coolidge,

Coolidge had a, " majority of 2.5 million over his opponents' combined total" (Coolidge, Wiki). Also, the Coolidge, "...restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. [2] As a Coolidge biographer put it, "He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength" (Coolidge, Wiki).

Though the sentiments of many Southern Americans were still anti-black, Coolidge did not mirror those views. As the con mentioned, the Klan had 4 - 5 million members, and it was incredibly dangerous. My opponent stated that they were received "favourably" in Washington, and I must then point out that there were 40,000 members in that march [1]. The Klan, being anti-Democrat, "...all but shut down the Democratic convention of 1924" and caused tremendous strife everywhere. Being so numerous, how could the Government stop their parade? Fire upon them and have another Haymarket Affair? It caused civil disorder, and Coolidge certainly didn't share their views or agree. He attempted to establish anti-lynching laws, which were prevented by a filibuster in the Senate [1]. Coolidge also kept several African Americans in office and commemorated the, "Black boys in the war" (4). Now, as most did at the time, Coolidge favoured the "white man" over the "black man," but he didn't endorse any aggressive action about the matter. Though the Klan had 4,000,000 members, and many were prominent government officials, Coolidge appointed no known member to office.

Government proffered social services being beneficial is a matter of opinion, and the early Americans tended not to view them favourably. Effectively, the public endorsed a form of "Laissez-faire" limited central governance, which is what Coolidge offered very effectively. Rather, as historian Robert Sobel asserts, "...As Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. Did he support these measures while president? No, because in the 1920s, such matters were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments" [9].

In fact, following on the heels of Harding's scandalous administration, "Cal'" quiet and forthright leadership pleased the people significantly.

So, Coolidge isn't a "bad" president, then, but what elevates him to the status of being a "good president"?

Calvin Coolidge was a leader in a time of economic prosperity, and his administration restored faith in the government after the nefarious Teapot Dome Scandal during Harding's administration. The Teapot Dome scandal was, "(The) ...greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics" until Watergate [7]. Therefore, it's remarkable that Coolidge was able to gain the trust and popularity of the people so quickly.

1. Calvin Coolidge supported the Temperance movement and Prohibition. He believed, as his predecessors, that alcohol was a dangerous intoxicant that fuelled organized crime and unsavoury clientele.

2. Coolidge adamantly cut taxes and reduced the Federal deficit.

3. Coolidge pressed for the Indian Citizenship Act, which declared all Native Americans to be citizens equal to any white man, despite protestations from the massive Klan.

4. Coolidge had the good fortune of being President during a time of economical prosperity and technological innovation. In 1925, the first diesel locomotive began operating in New York City. In 1927, the first talking motion picture was produced. Credit was used extensively, and industrialization allowed the middle class people to earn and spend more disposable income. By deregulating, Coolidge certainly encouraged the "Roaring Twenties."

5. Coolidge appointed a strong cabinet. Future President Herbert Hoover was the Secretary of Commerce, Andrew Mellon was Secretary of the Treasury, Nobel Peace Prize winner Frank Kellogg was Secretary of State, James J. Davis (who opposed twelve hour work days and also the abuse of immigrants for cheap labour) as Secretary of Labour etc.

2. McCoy, 420–421; Greenberg, 49–53
3. Fuess, 500
9. Sobel, Robert. "Coolidge and American Business". John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Archived from the original on March 8, 2006. Retrieved Retrieved from March 8, 2006 version in Internet Archive on May 18, 2007.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you, pro, for taking on my debate, and helping me to improve in my method. I would like to revise my earlier argument also, I think Coolidge was not a bad president... but he was also not a good one. He was just okay, and just okay won't get anyone too far in today's society.
I would like to open by pointing out that you used wikipedia as a source, seeing as the information can be changed, and it is not accepted as a valid source in middle school, high school, nor college, I also do not accept it as a valid source.
According to when the writer tries to list the good things that Coolidge achieved during his presidency, they wrote "Are you kidding?" While I agree that Coolidge went with the flow when it came to issues such as prohibition, I feel that he did support the KKK in some way. He didn't support them on the racist or religious front, but rather on his views of women. He supported the killing of women simply because they refused to be door mats.
Coolidge also by leading the US in the "Roaring 20s" steepened the cliff to the fall of the Great Depression. He cut taxes so much, and refused to help the poor farmers with the aid they needed (which was not in the form of tax cuts....they don't always work, you know) and the deregulation caused wealthy and poor alike to buy stock on the margins, paying only 10% of what the stock would actually cost them. This would create an uneven distribution of the wealth, and many signs of the depression to come, that Coolidge ignored. Thousands of banks failed and still we had "Silent Cal" for a president. Just because people thought Coolidge would be a good president based on the two years following Harding, doesn't mean he was. 1. People thought Warren Harding was going to be a good president, but as you pointed out, and as many historians will agree, Warren Harding was not a good president, and 2. Warren Harding is not that hard to follow. Adolf Hitler proved that you can be popular, but still be a horrible person.
But even Adolf Hitler had more leadership skills than Calvin Coolidge. No significant bills were passed during his presidency, at least not that I can find. Also, his presidency had no lasting effects on the political climate of today, other than to be wary of letting the economy get out of control and allowing the wealthy to run rampant.
Also the Indian Citizenship Act was never passed, I guess he didn't press hard enough. According to Native Americans, on a special about Native American life today, the United States to this day has never formally acknowledged the Native Americans as people, let alone citizens.
As far as Coolidge's cabinet goes, you haven't proved that they were good, just that they existed and you know their names. Hoover was an unpopular president, slums were called "Hoovervilles" and his disapproval rate was through the roof. Andrew Mellon cut taxes too much, and allowed for an incredibly uneven distribution of wealth in order to do just as Andrew Hamilton advised against, get rid of the national debt. Hamilton clearly stated that if the government didn't owe money to its people, the government would not be around for long, because money is power. If you don't like someone, if they owe you, you'll still talk to them, if they don't you hang them out to dry. Obama has proved that all you have to do is talk about peace in order to get a Nobel Peace Prize, so that makes Frank Kellogg's feat not so impressive. And as for James J. Davis, according to you, he just had an opinion.
These things do not really prove that Coolidge was a bad president, but it does prove that he wasn't good.
I don't have any formal sources other than mauialmanac and Winona LaDuke in her program on NET (Nebraska Educational Television)....all my information is from US History classes, and basic logic.
Thank you.


Thanks for debating with me, ginger_ninja! It has been most enjoyable.

However, since the con can't revise the resolution set in round one, she therefore cedes that Coolidge isn't a bad president... Con acknowledges my case, "I think Coolidge was not a bad president," and therefore I rest my case. Vote Pro!

However, in the spirit of good debate, I'll continue the debate with some counterpoints and/or rebuttals.

My opponent expresses sentiments that Calvin Coolidge somehow believed that women could rightfully be killed if they were insubordinate or not submissive. I'm not quite certain where con gained that impression, but I, for one, would like to see proof. On November 2, 1920, Grace Coolidge, Calvin's wife, was one of the first voters (this was symbolic and significant, since Calvin's name was on the ballot for a position as Vice President).

"In 1930, Calvin Coolidge reflected on women's first decade of voting: "They are devoted, steadfast, sensible. They will not follow radical proposals, but will be influenced by moral values. Nothing can be safer for the commonwealth than the informed judgment of the mothers of the land" (1).

Such sentiments hardly seem reasonable for a man who would align himself with Ku Klux Clan beliefs on women. Also, Calvin Coolidge opposed violence, beatings or killing... Therefore, he simply could not even associate himself with the KKK.

The Indian Citizenship Act did pass. [2] [3] I concur with "Blackwolfspirit" on; Calvin Coolidge and Congress were besieged by irritated Native Americans who had fought overseas and found that they still could not vote.

Adolf Hitler was a very charismatic man, and that is what made him seem more popular to Coolidge. However, the difference was that Coolidge wasn't popular due to magnificent conquests and restoration of a glorious militaristic state. Nobody attempted to assassinate Coolidge, and they wouldn't have feared as serious of repercussion as those who attempted to assassinate Hitler.

Due to time constraints, that will have to be all. However, as I said, Con ceded the debate, so vote pro. : ) thanks for the debate, once again.

Debate Round No. 2
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Man-is-good 5 years ago
I was sticking to my beliefs that Coolidge wasn't a good president, and I did win my in class debate, but I got voted out after debating Washington, because the first had no one's mistakes to learn from, and every one has this idea stuck in their head that he was humble, when in fact he insisted that people treat him like royalty, he had quite the reputation for being arrogant.

A case of victory case, heh? Note, if you distrust wikipedia look at its own sources. Read them, and then judge what is stated what is stated.
Posted by ginger_ninja 5 years ago
I would ask for your help, except you use illigitimate sources. Wikipedia,, and blogs aren't legitimate sources. All of your sources were opinions. And just because an act was passed does not mean that it is enforced, Coolidge didn't enforce it, and from experience, laws that are not enforced are treated as though they do not exist, cause if that's not true, then every time I went to a reception for a wedding in my home town, which I've been to at least 5, I've broken the law (there was an ordinance here that if you were under 18, you couldn't dance in a public place that was serving alcohol after midnight) I never got in one ever has in the last 3 decades. Also, for Pro, you were saying that Coolidge was a good president. I was sticking to my beliefs that Coolidge wasn't a good president, and I did win my in class debate, but I got voted out after debating Washington, because the first had no one's mistakes to learn from, and every one has this idea stuck in their head that he was humble, when in fact he insisted that people treat him like royalty, he had quite the reputation for being arrogant.
Posted by Johnny_Canuck 5 years ago
Racist and sexist in the 20s? Say it ain't so!
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 5 years ago
Congradulations! :D That's swell! I'm a history aficionado, so if you ever need information, just pm me... I think, just sitting here, I could build a decent case in even Cleveland's second term v. Nixon. :P I particularly like Nixon... Recession just doesn't compete with Watergate!
Posted by ginger_ninja 5 years ago
Thanks. Well this debate helped me to win in our presidential "debates" in my APUSH class. I had to prove that Hayes was better than Coolidge. I got 1.5 minutes to talk about Hayes, 1 min to say way Coolidge shouldn't be considered the best president, and then 15 seconds to close/ rebut. Now I've got to make Cleveland's Second term look better than Nixon's presidency.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 5 years ago
The best pointers that I can offer is to space between paragraphs, use spell check and proceed in a tidy, organized manner that will encourage the viewers to keep reading.

Sources, of course, are always beneficial. Your second round was a lot better, in reference to debate, but it seems a little late in round two to reverse from "bad president" to "regular president." That will probably cost you, and you should have kept pushing the "bad president" viewpoint. My thoughts, anyway.
Posted by ginger_ninja 5 years ago
I am new to debating, any pointers to improve my method?
Posted by socialpinko 5 years ago
I really really want to take this!
Posted by ilovedebate 5 years ago
im assuming con is new to debating
Posted by MonsieurChen 5 years ago
Define good
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by BennyW 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con chastised pro for using wikipedia, yet sourced nothing on their own.
Vote Placed by mongeese 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were better sourced (just look at how many he had, and they're pretty good), which also made them more convincing, as they debunked Con's sourceless claims.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro listed several sources and Cons arguments were unconvincing and crumbled, for instance, "I feel that he did support the KKK in some way" You feel? Con also used assertions and was using emotion rather than sources, facts, etc unlike Pro