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Amity Shlaes – Calvin Coolidge


Chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation

Serves as Presidential Scholar at the King's College


Award Winning Author, four New York Times bestsellers:

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, 

The Forgotten Man: Graphic

The Greedy Hand: How Taxes Drive Americas Crazy. 

Calvin Coolidge


"To read Amity Shlaes's well-crafted biography is to understand why Reagan so admired the famously reticent man whom Shlaes calls 'our great refrainer.'" (George F. Will)

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Episode #1

Q: Amity Shlaes - Calvin Coolidge – Intro


  • Economic historian; book on the 1930s

  • 1920s strong economy; Coolidge gets credit

  • Worked under Robert Bartley at Wall Street Journal

  • Bartley was like Coolidge – terse, reticent

Episode #2

Q: What were the early influences that shaped Coolidge?


  • The Classics; Coolidge learned Latin

  • Framers; Coolidge read the constitution as a boy

  • New England background

  • Faith – church but without a minister

  • Grandmother helped raise him after mother’s death

Episode #3

Q: What was Coolidge’s personality like?


  •  Like a banker whose numbers work out

  • Under promised, over deliverable

  • Good listener

  • Quiet, reticent

  • Like a good used car salesman that you go back to

Episode #4

Q: What was Coolidge’s political trajectory?


  • Worked his way up Republican party

  • Mentor: Murray Crane

  • Mayor to State Legislature

  • State Senate to state senate president

  • Lieutenant governor of Massachusetts to governor’s office

  • Vice President under Harding to White House

Episode #5

Q: Is Coolidge’s conservatism like today’s conservatism?


  • Related but not equivalent

  • US best led by example

  • Lives by example – country frugal, he was frugal

  • Pro-tariff

  • Did not trash opponents

  • Don’t help the weak by bringing down the strong

Episode #6

Q: What were Coolidge’s main accomplishments?


  • Foreign policy – American stands for rule of law

  • America as a model – City on the Hill

  • Domestic – helped grow the economy

  • Tax rates reduced

  • Cars, Indoor plumbing, Electricity, Saturday becomes a day off

Episode #7

Q: How did Coolidge view Jews and Judaism?


  • Johnson –Reed Immigration – following mood of country

  • But not an anti-Semite

  • Spoke to Jewish groups

  • “I like your people”

  • “You take of your own”

  • “You are good citizens”

  • Torah is the basis of all our law

Anchor 1

Full Interview - Amity Shlaes

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