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President’s Day 2012: An hour of reflection and a time of chosing. Thoughts on Washington-Coolidge-Reagan-and today.

February 20, 2012



“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” – Citizen, Countryman, Patriot, soldier and General, a Servant of the people, humble and devout… President George Washington

President’s Day Trivia: Did you know? When George Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789, the candidates receiving the greatest and second-greatest number of electoral votes became president and vice president, respectively, Election Day varied by state, and political parties as we know them today did not exist.  While George Washington is widely considered to have supported Federalist positions, he was twice elected to the presidency without any political party affiliation — the only U.S. President to date to hold that distinction.

In some circles, today is observed as “Presidents’ Day,” jointly recognizing Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but it is still officially recognized as the anniversary of “Washington’s Birthday” (Washington’s actual birthday is Feb. 22.)

Matthew Spalding, a Heritage Foundation scholar, reminds: “Although it was celebrated as early as 1778, and by the early 19th Century was second only to the Fourth of July as a patriotic holiday, Congress did not officially recognize Washington’s Birthday as a national holiday until 1870. The Monday Holiday Law in 1968 – applied to executive branch departments and agencies, by Executive Order 11582, in 1971 – moved the holiday from February 22 to the third Monday in February. Section 6103 of Title 5, United States Code, currently designates that legal federal holiday as ‘Washington’s Birthday.’ Contrary to popular opinion, no action by Congress or order by any President has changed ‘Washington’s Birthday’ to ‘Presidents’ Day.'”

(Quotes) H/t Patriot Post

George Washington

1790 — letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham: All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the lustre which may be reflected from its connection with a power of promoting human felicity.

1795 — letter to Gouverneur Morris: The executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity.

Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 – “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens.”

John Marshall

1799 — official eulogy of George Washington, delivered by Richard Henry Lee: First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life.  Pious, just humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting; correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand.  The purity of his private charter gave effulgence to his public virtues;.  Such was the man for whom our nation morns.

John Adams

1799 — message to the U.S. Senate: His Example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our history shall be read.

Thomas Jefferson

1790 — Letter to William Hunter: The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind.

1814 — on George Washington in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones: [H]is was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had settled down into a quite and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no other example.

His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision.  He was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man.

John Adams

1800 — letter to his wife Abigail;  President Franklin D. Roosevelt had this lettered in gold in the marble over the fireplace in the S: I Pray Heaven to Bestow The Best of Blessing on THIS HOUSE, and on ALL that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof!

Benjamin Rush

1812 — to John Adams: (On Presidents Jefferson and Adams) Some talked, some wrote, and some fought to promote and establish it, but you and Mr. Jefferson thought for us all.  I never take a retrospect of the years 1775 and 1776 without associating your opinions and speeches and conversations with all the great political, moral, and intellectual achievements of the Congress of those memorable years.

James Madison

1826 — on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to  Nicholas P. Trist: [He] will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind.

Joseph Story

1833 — Commentaries on the Constitution, 545: There is little need of commentary upon this clause. No man can well doubt the propriety of placing a president of the United States under the most solemn obligations to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution. It is a suitable pledge of his fidelity and responsibility to his country; and creates upon his conscience a deep sense of duty, by an appeal, at once in the presence of God and man, to the most sacred and solemn sanctions, which can operate upon the human mind.

1833 — Commentaries on the Constitution 576: On the other hand, the duty imposed upon him to take care, that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will “preserve, protect, and defend the constitution.” The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly worthless for offence, or defence; for the redress of grievances, or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people.

Governor Palin: Happy Birthday, President Lincoln

February 12 2012 –

“His is a story of the true American spirit, the same spirit that inspires and motivates Americans today.”

Alexander Hamilton

1788 — Federalist No. 73, on the Veto Power: The Presidency

The injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws, will be amply compensated by the advantage of preventing a number of bad ones.

President Calvin Coolidge

“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones”

“There is just one condition on which men can secure employment and a living, nourishing, profitable wage, for whatever they contribute to the enterprise, be it labor or capital, and that condition is that some one make a profit by it. … It cannot be done by law, it cannot be done by public ownership, it cannot be done by socialism. When you deny the right to a profit you deny the right of a reward for thrift and industry.”

“What So Proudly We Hail”

Calvin CoolidgeH/t Mona Charen. – From one of the essays by one of America’s most thoughtful philosophers of government – Calvin Coolidge who was president when the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and delivered a speech to mark the occasion.

He began by stressing that it wasn’t the fact of seeking to break away from the mother country that distinguished the American Revolution: “It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles that July 4, 1776 has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.”

It may surprise contemporary readers to learn that Coolidge upheld the principle of equality as the most important in the declaration. It sprang, he argued, from the religious sensibilities of the American people. “They preached equality,” he said, “because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.”

In words that could easily have been penned in our own generation, Coolidge defended the eternal validity of the founding documents: “About the declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences, which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great chapter. If all men are created equal, that is final. … If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”

And finally, this, from the man who held the presidency during the Roaring ’20s: “If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy.”

Americanism matters.

The 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. The words of “Silent Cal” lend credence to the modern movement in opposition to progressive-statism.  Take a gander:

Civilization and profit go hand in hand.

Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.

There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence quite so important, as living within your means.

Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.

To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.

President Coolidge may be the most under-rated president in American history, but an expose’ of his words alone do little to roll back the progressive machine now. The beginning of that roll-back does not occur on November 2, but much earlier. We fight for that roll back today, as we did yesterday, as we will tomorrow, and as we have been for a 100 years now. Coolidge faught this battle too, following the years of Wilson (and TR Roosevelt) wence our nations dangerous descent down the slipperly slope began, and he did so in such a way to make our founders and our people proud.

In Honor of a President Few Remember

Ronald Reagan 3by Alan Snyder Ronald Reagan admired him a lot. In fact, when Reagan was looking over his new house—the White House—shortly after his inaugural in 1981, he entered into the Cabinet Room.

On the wall were portraits of Truman, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The White House curator commented at the time, “If you don’t like Mr. Truman, you can move Mr. Truman out.” Even though Reagan, a former Democrat, had voted for Truman back in 1948, he made his decision: Truman’s portrait was removed and one of Calvin Coolidge was dusted off and put in its place.

Nowadays, in all the “right” circles [to be found primarily among the academic elite], the person of Coolidge is a source of amusement, if not outright derision. Why, he was a do-nothing president, someone who didn’t use (abuse) the power of the office as he should have. Probably his most grievous sin, in their view, was the way he put the brakes on destiny: he was a foe of the progressive movement that was intended to reshape American government and culture.

Calvin CoolidgeCoolidge, whose administration spanned a good part of the 1920s, was a throwback to an earlier time. He was not a Woodrow Wilson; rather, he believed in the vision of the Founding Fathers and their concept of limited government. He remained true to the principles of self-government and the sanctity of private property. The rule of law was paramount in his political philosophy. No one was above the law, a belief that, if followed, would keep the people safe from the power of an overextended government.

During the 1920s, the continent of Europe experimented with socialism. What might larger government be able to accomplish? What vistas await us once we unleash the full power of government intervention? Coolidge stood opposed to this false vision of the future.

Historians also like to make fun of his approach to speechmaking. Coolidge preferred to say as little as possible. As he once noted, he never got in trouble for things he didn’t say. Yet when he did speak, he made some very significant pronouncements. His words conveyed key ideas for American success. Meditate on this paragraph, for instance:

In a free republic a great government is the product of a great people. They will look to themselves rather than government for success. The destiny, the greatness of America lies around the hearthstone. If thrift and industry are taught there, and the example of self-sacrifice oft appears, if honor abide there, and high ideals, if there the building of fortune be subordinate to the building of character, America will live in security, rejoicing in an abundant prosperity and good government at home and in peace, respect, and confidence abroad. If these virtues be absent there is no power that can supply these blessings. Look well then to the hearthstone, therein all hope for America lies.

Notice Coolidge’s stress on what he called the “hearthstone,” which is a designation for the family. He saw the (natural) family as the cornerstone of  society, the place where character should be developed. Note also his subordination of financial fortune to the building of character. Fortune may come, but only if character comes first: thrift, industry, and honor—qualities in short supply at the moment.

America was prosperous during the Coolidge years. The Great Depression was just around the corner, but it didn’t occur as a result of Coolidge’s policies of tax cuts and economic liberty. The Depression was more a result of misdirection from the Federal Reserve [low cash reserves in banks; easy credit]; its continuation throughout the 1930s was due to government actions of the New Deal.

If there’s one thing most historians can agree on with Coolidge, it’s that he easily would have won reelection in 1928 had he chosen to run again. Yet he voluntarily stood down. Why? What prompted that decision? He tells us what led him to do so in his autobiography.

It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exultation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.

Coolidge saw the problems associated with elected office. He knew that men often developed what might be called the “swelled-head syndrome.” He wanted nothing to do with that. If for no other reason, Coolidge should be honored for his willingness to set aside power and maintain his good character. Where are the politicians willing to do that today?

See also:

America’s Forgotten Depression (1920) and pay attention, among other things, to the part about “laffer’s curve” which is without a doubt in play today.

Fixing the Present, Ensuring the Future by Cal Thomas from July 2011: If your disgust over America’s crushing debt and the irresponsible leaders who refuse to reduce unnecessary spending has reached the fed-up point, there is an easy solution beyond whatever compromise might be reached in the current standoff between President Obama and congressional Republicans. Vote Republican in 2012. But don’t vote for just any Republican, rather vote for conservatives who believe the foundational principles of America still work and can rescue us from default, placing the country back on a track that leads to prosperity and greater liberty.

Last week, I was one in a series of speakers at the new Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center. My subject was “What the Past Can Teach the Present, Ensuring the Future.” There are no new ideas, only old ideas that either worked or failed. There is “nothing new under the sun,” as Ecclesiastes reminds us.

Some excerpts from my address…

Coolidge and the 1924 Republican Platform: (which followed the death of President Harding) …there stood forth fully equipped to be his successor one whom we had nominated as vice-president—Calvin Coolidge, who as vice-president and president by his every act has justified the faith and confidence which he has won from the nation.

He has put the public welfare above personal considerations. He has given to the people practical idealism in office. In his every act, he has won without seeking the applause of the people of the country. The constantly accumulating evidence of his integrity, vision and single minded devotion to the needs of the people of this nation strengthens and inspires our confident faith in his continued leadership.

When the republican administration took control of the government in 1921, there were four and a half million unemployed; industry and commerce were stagnant; agriculture was prostrate; business was depressed; securities of the government were selling below their par values.

…There was a lack of faith in the administration of government resulting in a growing feeling of distrust in the very principles upon which our institutions are rounded. To-day industry and commerce are active; public and private credits are sound…

We demand and the people of the United States have a right to demand rigid economy in government. A policy of strict economy enforced by the republican administration since 1921 has made possible a reduction in taxation and has enabled the government to reduce the public debt by $2,500,000,000. This policy vigorously enforced has resulted in a progressive reduction of public expenditures until they arc now two billions dollars per annum less than in 1921. The tax burdens of the people have been relieved to the extent of $1,250,000,000 per annum. Government securities have been increased in value more than $3,000,000,000. Deficits have been converted in surpluses. The budget system has been firmly established and the number of federal employes has been reduced more than one hundred thousand. We commend the firm insistence of President Coolidge upon rigid government economy and pledge him our earnest support to this end.

Remember is our opening about Washington’s lack of political party? Well the truth be told, of course there were politics then as now, and at the time is was basically Federalist and Anti-federalist. Such is human nature and the nature of government to have opposing views and hence debate. There is a great difference though between then and now. Our Constitution gave us a Foundation, and as such debate was that of two sides of the same coin (hence our two party system), and what we do with it to build upon that foundation. Today however, we have descended into politics whereas one side is trying to preserve that foundation while the other is trying to chip it away!

Republican Party Platform vs. Democrat Party Platform (Liberty vs. Secular Socialism): Following is a summary (from 2008) of the Republican Party Platform and the Democrat Party platform. Mind you that after years of destructive policy by both the Obama administration and the Reid-Pelosi Congress, the stark differences are even more so for 2012.

[For example, did you know? Pelosi wants to add gay marriage plank to the Democrat platform: A move to put gay marriage in the party platform at this year’s convention could prove problematic for Democrats as they seek to keep the election-year conversation focused on their efforts to (LMAO) right the economy. Pro-gay-marriage groups like Freedom to Marry called this week for Democrats to add the plank to their platform at the convention in Charlotte, N.C., in early September.  Two days later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Fran, CA.) said she was on board.]

Politics Versus Reality By Thomas Sowell

Coolidge-Reagan-Walker? by Cal Thomas

Sponsored by The Patriot PostSponsor of Reagan2020.US

“The vision and legacy of the Reagan Revolution flourish on the pages of The Patriot Post.” —Michael Reagan

Ronald Reagan“We, the members of the New Republican Party, believe that the preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom, family life, communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people.” —Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911 – 2004)

Reagan 2020 is the Internet’s most comprehensive resource on Ronald Reagan.  It represents a permanent campaign advocating individual, family and community rights and responsibilities in acts of self-governance, as set forth by our Founders in the Declaration of Independence and codified in its subordinate guidance, our Republic’s Constitution, the original intent of which is specified in the Federalist Papers.

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We American Patriots, as guardians of our Republic’s liberty and custodians of Ronald Reagan’s legacy, represent President Reagan’s “New Republican Party.” In addition our mission of providing an exposition of his leadership of, and contributions to, the 20th century’s conservative revolution, President Reagan’s vision for constitutional government is outlined on this site in the New Federalist Platform — the quintessential conservative platform — a template for citizens, for candidates from all levels of government and a touchstone for American conservatism in perpetuity.

  • New Federalist Platform
  • Executive Order on Federalism (NOTE: President Reagan’s effort to re-establish the proper role of the federal government through this Executive Order on Federalism was revoked in 1998 by Bill Clinton’s new EO 13083, which largely re-justified the excessive unconstitutional role the federal government has assumed since the time of Franklin Roosevelt.)

Reagan 101

By Quin Hillyer Thursday, February 02 2012

Monday, February 6, the Gipper would have been 101, and the longing for comparable conservative leadership will not disappear just because his centennial has passed. Indeed, that longing grows ever more intense as this frustrating presidential primary season lurches forward. It’s too bad, then, that so many myths, from both left and right, cloud the true Reagan legacy.  More…


Ronald Reagan on Healthcare, Socialism (under the guise of Liberalism), “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction”, and how you can and must do somthing about it!- “Don’t say we weren’t warned!”

Ronald Reagan on Socialism- “Don’t say we weren’t warned!” (and the little red hen story)

On the topic of Coolidge and Reagan, a moment of visually (wishfully) thinking out loud:

or better still,

L to R: Coolidge, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, Reagan

(Yes, we have replaced T.R. Roosevelt and there’s a reason for that. Despite what respect we have for what was good about the man, the great many fallacies about this President that history has taught us, specifically his part in leading us down the idealogical [progressive] path we find our nation on today, far outweighs having any high degree of reverence for him. But that’s a story in of itself for another day.)

With regards to our Presidents, past & present, and our National interest, the powerful and telling perspectives set forth in the following continue to remain so, no matter how many times we replay them:

Though we don’t often quote Hamilton, how apropos these particular words are today:

Alexander Hamilton

1788 — Federalist No. 68: This process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of President will seldom fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.

OMG, we let it happen! Through complacency, apathy, a false sense of hope, and a either misguided principles, or a complete lack thereof, in 2008 it happened. And look what it got us:

1788 — Federalist No. 69: A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be its theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.

1788 — Federalist No. 70: The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers. … The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility.

Did you catch that? “A dependence on the people”, not the people’s dependence on the president!


Patriot Post Brief – Monday, December 12, 2011: The Foundation

“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” –Thomas Jefferson

Re: The Left

Obama makes the case for re-election: Food banks

“In the first month of his presidency, Barack Obama averred that if in three years he hadn’t alleviated the nation’s economic pain, he’d be a ‘one-term proposition.’ When three-quarters of Americans think the country is on the ‘wrong track’ and even Bill Clinton calls the economy ‘lousy,’ how then to run for a second term? Traveling Tuesday to Osawatomie, Kan., site of a famous 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech, Obama laid out the case. It seems that he and his policies have nothing to do with the current state of things. … Responsibility, you see, lies with the rich. … For Obama, these rich are the ones holding back the 99 percent. … A country spending twice as much per capita on education as it did in 1970 with zero effect on test scores is not underinvesting in education. It’s mis-investing. … In Kansas, Obama lamented that millions ‘are now forced to take their children to food banks.’ You have to admire the audacity. That’s the kind of damning observation the opposition brings up when you’ve been in office three years. Yet Obama summoned it to make the case for his reelection! Why? Because, you see, he bears no responsibility for the current economic distress. … This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez.” –columnist Charles Krauthammer

Government: “So what do the Republicans leave out in their rebuttal to the grim Democrats? They leave out that they have an economic model that is proven. It’s called supply-side economics. According to the model, one does not raise taxes on anyone, certainly not in times of economic unease. The very rich might be slobs or they might be living saints, but like everyone else, their taxes are not to be raised because they spend their money or invest their money in economic growth. They cannot help themselves. The way they spend or invest is always more efficient than the government. Money spent by the rich (and the middle class) leads to growth. Money spent by the government rarely leads to growth, and the following year the government has to come up with more money again. … Government is not a reliable source of funds. Ask a citizen of Greece or of Italy.” –columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell

Insight: “There is just one condition on which men can secure employment and a living, nourishing, profitable wage, for whatever they contribute to the enterprise, be it labor or capital, and that condition is that some one make a profit by it. … It cannot be done by law, it cannot be done by public ownership, it cannot be done by socialism. When you deny the right to a profit you deny the right of a reward for thrift and industry.” –President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

Essential Liberty: “Jeffersonian liberty, the bedrock of America’s founding, rests on the idea that individuals are means to their own ends, never the ends of others; that individuals should be free to engage in voluntary acts of mutual agreement with each other; and that they deserve that which they produce. Progressivism represents the antithesis of these simple concepts. It’s dawning on the American polity during the turn of the nineteenth century brought about structural changes that gave rise to iniquitous lobbying that dominates politics even to this day; to the administrative state that continues to circumvent natural economic forces; and to a fundamentally new and perverted definition of liberty and America’s founding philosophy. President Obama has endorsed this Progressivism, and should be held accountable for those ideas.” –columnist J. K. Gregg

The people of other nations may proclaim things like God save the Queen (or in some nations, things far worse), but we in the U.S. proclaim only, God save the free and independent people of the United States of America.

This hour of reflection has become a time of choosing. Shall we choose to continue along as a runaway train having jumped the tracks, while heading for a cliff, and “hope” for the best? Or shall we rise up and reclaim the principles that made us great, and choose a new leader who will get us back on track to freedom and prosperity? As for us, we choose the latter.

Happy President’s Day (to our next one)!

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