Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Calvin Coolidge’s depression?

Jack Beatty writes a review in The Atlantic about a new book on Coolidge by Robert Gilbert. It is, apparently, a study of Coolidge’s depression after the death of his son Calvin due to an infection he got on his toe while playing tennis at the White House. It is probable that Coolidge’s depression (and its effects, e.g., Mrs. Coolidge ran everything, etc.) are overstated (as well as the connection between it and the world-wide depression), yet, it is worth reading. But, to get a fuller impression of Coolidge, you have to read (aside from his terrific Autobiography!), first, Thomas Silver’s Coolidge and the Historians, and then Robert H. Ferrell’s The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge, and then Robert Sobel’s Coolidge: An America Dilemna. Here is a short piece I did on Coolidge a few years ago.

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The best scholarly work on the 1920s
regarding government policy and government-business relations, and the general economy is by Ellis Hawley and Michael Bernstein. Hawley shows the "corporatist" vision of voluntary statism and close government relations with business and some of the similarities and differences with FDR’s welfare state. Bernstein shows how long-term trends in the creation of a corporate consumer economy could not sustain the American economy as it declined due to the consumer economy’s newness. Check out both works. Much better and analytical than Galbraith or Schlesinger, though not quite as lively!

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