tv QA Q A with Amity Shlaes CSPAN April 13, 2019 8:33pm-9:34pm EDT
if you have missed any of today's program the entire day with will re-air tonight at 9:30 p.m. eastern time. we will be back with more live from los angeles starting tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.. historian and journalist amity shlaes wonders if americans would elect a man like kalvin coolidge nearly 100 years after she served as associate told us an interview in her biography of the present to me is that conversation is the basis for a chapter on kalvin coolidge in c-span's latest book the president. c-span: amity shlaes author of "coolidge" when did you first get interested in this president? >> guest: i was writing my most recent book forgotten man in everything was broken. it's a book about the 30s and how the economy was broken not by what happened before.
there was a period when it was fixed and that was the 20s and that was coolidge is. i thought this is the prequel. to figure out what went right in the 20s. right to talk about him. the question i would ask is could he be elected president today? >> guest: i think so. that's the challenge of the book whether we can choose someone who is as principled as he is as president. that perception is reality. he thought principle was reality and reality was reality. the challenge for us often is we just look for someone who is good-looking are good salesmen or can it via someone who has principles? we deceive ourselves generally that we need looks alone. c-span: who did he put around itself? >> guest: a very important
question. the coolidge came into office from being vice president. unfortunately the president warren harding died so there's a cabinet there and some of them are compromised. harding was a period of scandal so the modern position might be a clean sweep. get them out so you will have the appearance of integrity. they also had respect for harding. those people weren't condemned yet come innocent until proven guilty and continuity for the sake of the people in market. he kept the cabinet cabinet for a while in eventually some people left. you see the secretary of the interior left but figures who are compromised in the harding administration eventually left and coolidge did have an investigation. he named a bipartisan team to look into corruption in the harding administration. he became president in
august 1923. c-span: who was the secretary of treasury? >> guest: that was the same guy. i would be andrew mellon who was harding before hemant hoovers after. not a great figure like alan greenspan today or ben bernanke the treasury secretary. three presidents served under him. c-span: how does that relate to the mellon name we know now the mellon bank? >> guest: melon was a very wealthy man who made much of his money with an empire in pittsburgh of steel aluminum. he developed what we might call a venture capitalists. give a man money and if the man had a good idea to see what happens. maybe he would sell his share. sometimes he butted in and sometimes he didn't. he created a whole institute to generate patents very production
oriented. not just someone who bought that other other people hadn't haven't held onto it like monopoly. he was the creator of wealth. now his job of secretary with a wealth of experience from the private sector with few conditions and the best partner among the president the mellon biographer would say if you understood melon. it wasn't all about calvin. c-span: he died in his early 60s right after he got out of the presidency. what happened? what was his health light? >> a lot of them did. we are blessed with the angiograms and we are blessed withstands and press tour. men know exactly how well their heart is doing and it's clear there was something cardio going on. you see men dying all the time in politics especially in the presidency.
harding died eventually. harding wore himself out. his predecessor never really recovered. two presidents have been killed. coolidge made it. i don't think he was aware of the sense to which his heart was bad until the end. c-span: we have some video spoken by calvin coolidge at the white house. maybe in the first video of the president speaking to the swatch so people can see what he sounded like and look like. >> i want the people of america to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. i want them to have the rewards of their own industry. this is the chief meeting of freedom and where we can reestablish under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people. we are bound to suffer a very
severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty. c-span: again forget the principles that he had but no teleprompter reading off of a piece of paper somewhat halting high voice. you think it could make it in the television age? >> guest: i do. of course the new technology than was radio and it turned out radio was a blessing for him because he had little bit of wire in his voice and it cut through apparently a good radio voice. he thought he was on radio there are. i don't think we should condemn people if they don't appear telegenic. c-span: the chapter that i thought was the most illuminating about him and the person and i'm not sure i pronounce this right.
what is that chapter? >> guest: when you get to college the outsider, he happened to go to amherst college of very interesting college that had a motto let them illuminate the earth basically college for ministers or future ministers generally a congregationalist although there were other denominations in massachusetts. coolidge went down there and at the time he was down there it was a great school that had a lot of fraternities. fraternities were all over. what interesting about calvin and this is true brian he didn't seem like he was going to make a pretty thought he should be in a fraternity. he wrote his father a letter saying something about that before he got there and then he wasn't chosen. imagine being in a school with boys richer than you and being kind of shy.
he wasn't chosen and i think this is partly because he wasn't sure he wanted to be chosen. he wasn't sure he wanted to give up that much of himself to a group. it's always nice to be out and he was quite disappointed i think when he wasn't asked and there's an interesting story. there's another boy at amherst at that time called dwight who is poorer than calvin, and may be shorter and had a little physical disability. dwight was a happy boy and coolidge new him. apparently dwight black bald coolidge at one point for a fraternity when coolidge was going to come in. white said not him, i will take the other one. white was one of those friends who thinks it over and changes his mind and has great regret. white decided he had underrated
calvin and dwight morrow who then went to law school and became a big partner at jpmorgan and in fact jpmorgan was an underdog and eventually calvin patch it up with mexico and its terrible times. white was our ambassador there and he had a daughter named ann morrow. coolidge sent down when burke to cheer up the mexicans to bring some comity to the place. that's how she became and komar o. lindbergh. a lot of history came out of that understated a little bit sad beginning of life for calvin coolidge. c-span: when you read about it in his personality defies logic that this man could end up being present at the estate because he is called an alcohol, "silent cal." how silent was he?
>> guest: he was very silent. we have many stories and there's a famous story of calvin where a lady said i'll bet i can get you to say more than two words at this dinner or maybe vice president. his wife told the story. she said you moved. c-span: was that dorothy parker? >> guest: i don't think so but dorothy parker said when he died who could tell? a very mean comment and if you go back and look at coolidge he was a concerted hero. his tax rate was at old standard tax rate that we saw on the video, 25% is what he got for the top rate. he ought like crazy and it started with wilson in the 70s. i was an epic battle and when you go with what the socialite said about coolidge in washington and how cold he was, you want to remember that they were probably from families that endorsed different policies. his father had a different model
of presidents. he had an active bully pulpit presidency and here was coolidge and cold. she said he looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle. coolidge's from new england. farmers don't talk a lot talk a lot or wave their arms about because the cow might kick them. and it was temperamental. he was a shy person but it also had a political purpose. the new that if he didn't talk a lot people would stop talking and of course the president or political leader is constantly bombarded with requests. his silence was his way of not giving in to special interests. c-span: go back to the college experience though. he said he learned to like to speak. how did that come in and did he ever get into a fraternity? >> he got into a fraternity at the end, the very and his senior
year. he was the new man on campus. he was proud. a letter to his father calvin coolidge memorial foundation published. i hope you can publish them again. he wrote his father i have to have a pin. his father who wasn't at all rich but wasn't totally poor and important person in this little town. i need a pin and a new ducaine in the overcoat. it was very late last term basically senior year that coolidge got it. i think his classmates, amherst is a small college. he was thoughtful and you want to say this is interesting about their education. there's great writer can education. the kids had to speak a lot and he had a teacher that they love very much.
a lot of us like garman and white like garman. he began to have friends and felt he was in the club of this particular lecture urman who lectured and some in our previous book in class and the other boy said wait a minute it's the new man. we don't recognize him. wait a minute how come we didn't know you freshman and sophomore year? that wonderful way you can reevaluate someone. c-span: at the picture that i want to show you. it's not in your look. this is a picture from the courthouse yard area in northhampton new hampshire where he lived on the screen there. this has every job he has ever had on that statue. have you ever seen that? >> guest: i don't think so. c-span: we can go back and talk about this because i want to know why you think he got this pretty started it, vermont 1872 on the statue admitted to
massachusetts bar in 97 and 1898 city counselor of northhampton city solicitor 1906 state representative massachusetts 1909 mayor of the city of northhampton 1911 state senator of massachusetts 1913 president of the massachusetts senate 1915 to 1970 lieutenant governor and the governor the state of massachusetts in 18 and went on to be vice president in 1921 and president in 23. i've never seen anything quite like that where somebody has had that many jobs. guess who he him is never lost. brien: how did you how did he doing it? >> guest: running for politics is my hobby. the republican and the democratic party were different. there was the path. if you help the others they would help you. it was a club.
it wasn't entirely looked down upon. even in the presence said there were some good in the party. the party trained you and help you work efficiently. it's also his incredible person. that's what i try to get out about his time in northhampton massachusetts. that was the county seat. he looked around and he couldn't really afford law school. so he went to read the law the way they did predict a clerk and pass the bar that way with the firm of two men who like amherst and report lawyers in the town running for office. he looked around and learned about his county seat. why don't i just tried this? dwight morrow went to law school at columbia and went to wall street law firm and that bank. this was the old way and thomas
jefferson kind of way serving in the country. don't be a city doll is one of the things they read in college. the party was good to him and he learned pragmatism. he practiced law on and off the whole time. he was very careful not to be corrupt. one of the issues of his youth in his his youth is a progressive republican party. he's looking at it and you can see a progressive record whether he's a state lawmaker or he worked on trusts in theaters. they saw trust everywhere in the progressive era. bad air out was it theodore roosevelt so he's thinking is a good good policy or no not with progressives to? fipa begin reform government waited up. he certainly have to work and was often assigned to clean up government to shut down offices but he is evaluating this stuff full time. i want to mention he had a
mentor who is also silent. i didn't know this until i began to search in massachusetts at the library where much of his materials were. i was called w. murray crane. senator crane to help it with coal strikes. crane was of the crane paper company. he was a businessman and the crane paper company. the dollar. in a very interesting way crane knew about the u.s. economy through the dollar and how much he. crane was silent, rarely spoke. he was a western massachusetts leader ursus the boston leader in massachusetts politics. i was coolidge's mentor. buy how much of the crash of 1929 could be blamed on coolidge? he left in march of 29. >> guest: imagined the stock market where i teach to the
stock market was 100 for a long time. then it went up 200 very high. coolidge has seen a lot of recessions. that's our 90 or after war with napoleon and you see incredible doubling. then i went to 381. that was in december of 29. coolidge had seen a lot of recessions. he knew that was wrong. he didn't believe it was the job of the chief executive to intervene. it was a state of new york where the new york stock exchange was where the dow would be the dow jones industrial. the owner he knew clarence barron but he didn't think the treasury secretary was really in charge of that remember the fed was also young. there is a wreck of him looking into. another amherst man was charles merrill who founded what we
would call merrill lynch and merrill would see him and they talked about it and coolidge was terrified. a person was so conservative and he knew what a crash was but he didn't see it as the president's role in neither did merrill. that would be a dates authority. another factor in that period was within the policy was. benjamin strong the great leader died. i do not blame this on coolidge in the least. one of the important factors and the only one you look at as was the growth in the 20s real or with "the great gatsby" coming out was at all champagne? the 20s most of it was real to the stock market might be high but it was not the lie of the decade which is something we learned in school. that must be revised and there's an effort for that revision. c-span: where did you first
start being interested in calvin coolidge? do you remember that time? >> guest: in a forgotten man, the history of the 1930s was about how the government came in starting with herbert hoover and mess it up. beyond all the things who for dead bigger government and more arbitrary government so i thought what was it that they messed up. i had to go back and write a new beginning to forgotten and an show what it was that was lost in order to show the extent of the law. i thought wow this is very interesting to the economics that we don't discuss that much, we kind of think they were intended with gatsby and prohibition. economists tend to say wow that is interesting and real most of it and we talk about her example rca radio corp. was described in some of the most big lie.
radio corp. had an interesting invention. what we would call television. did turn out to be profitable much later. sometimes markets overshoot when they are anticipating. the markets of the 20s were really interesting. looking at it from the people the government the single thing the coolidge did that we want to remember when he left office the budget was lower than when he came in. that's the story for us now. how did he do that? via connie grew a lot. maybe more than 2% sometimes. unemployment was as low as 5% of the budget was balanced it with his own parsimony. how he managed to make the budget go lower and how did that help the economy? a lot because he got the government out of the way of the
economy. it's very foreign to the way we talk about the economy now that's fascinating. c-span: dear member help take the budget was? >> guest: it depends on a counted but the way he counted it was about 3 billion. it was less than 5% of u.s. economy and he would get it down to 3 billion. that was his holy grail and the reason it took so long was that middle section of the book is about his effort with another new englander general lord from maine. they cut the budget. they didn't just cut the tax rate, they cut the budget and this is different from arm modern supply-sider. coolidge always twin them. if you lie in cubs he had some and gave him two lion cubs. city can just cut taxes you have to cut the budget and those lion cubs were named budget arrow and
tax reduction. c-span: where did they recite? >> they reside in the zoo. coolidge loved animals but they sum a lot of them to the zoo. c-span: we will come back to calvin coolidge in a minute but let's go back the amity shlaes story. where do barack? >> guest: i went to yell college. c-span: when you first came in 1990 or so you appeared on this network. you are back from germany. how long did you spend in germany? >> guest: i spent a few years in germany. i fortunately got to do some journalism than i trained "the wall street journal". i'm interested in germany now that i'm interested in east europe what we used to call east europe and the future of democracy and freedom there and what has happened. my first work was on germany because i had studied germany and i worked as a journalist and wrote a book about germany.
around the time of german unification. c-span: out to show yourself. >> guest: that's not very kind. c-span: in 1993, 20 years ago here you are. >> i think the country will do just fine. right now people say that it will be a good curve after unification because of all the troubles they have. i think they are going to be at the bottom of the curve this year. and within five or maybe 10 years jeremy will have consolidated and it will be a stronger country for the reunification pay they are going to richer recession now. c-span: how did you do then? >> guest: they did fine. they did better than we thought. wondering now if germany will come out of the euro. germany is setting the model for future economy. germany is the favor country of europe.
the question is how much can you help the spenders? c-span: from that time in that era your life is change dramatically. you dedicate this book to eli, theo, flora and helen. who are they? >> guest: those are my four children and my four children with my husband a journalist and editor. our oldest son goes to the university of texas. our second son as a cadet at west point who we have a dog or laura who is in high school and helen is in sixth grade. c-span: alter this period you been fairly visible working. >> guest: that's right i'm a columnist. it's a regular column. it's less regular now because of various bumps but i've been a columnist for 10 years.
before that was with financial times. c-span: counsel on foreign relations. still there? >> guest: i was a fellow for the political economy in economic history for years and i moved over to a new foundation president bush 43 foundation which is going to be wonderful. i'm interested in presidential history now. president bush is a wonderful man and a great leader and a republican president with an enormous archive at the new george w. bush center in dallas -- dallas. i really liked coolidge's history and i wanted to learn at a presidential center and to work on economics. i'm in a program which is about economic growth. coolidge had it. what is that mystery and what was that? let's think about it and the 4% growth project with the different ways you can get stronger road. we all know that stronger growth makes everything stronger.
c-span: do you still teach at new york university? what do you teach? >> guest: the economics in the 1930s which were very controversial so that was fun. it's a right comes a ron? c-span: if we followed you around the last few years studying calvin coolidge where would he find you? >> guest: i'm a trustee of the calvin coolidge memorial foundation which is a great entity and if you want to no coolidge you go two vermont. the foundation is there in this state -- the estate archivist mr. jenny. we have her on foundation there where we do some education. we have some material and attack this summer at the bush center we are hosting a high school economic debate. how perfect for coolidge around the time of the anniversary of his midnight swearing-in by his father in early august. ..
. >> what he overcame to become president, i want to mention other coolidge places behind the forbes library in northampton massachusetts, has been a great partner for me, and helped me, there's also the vermont archive, where many of the coolidge papers can be found well taken care of in bury, vermont. to any coolidge scallch. >> brian: i want you to ask you something about calvin coolidge. he would thing you got a grant for the national indown payment of the humanities. >> amity: he didn't really live federal money to be spent on culture. he would be ambivalent to that. you would see that -- president
coolidge doesn't have a presidential library with a staff funded by washington the way president roosevelt would have, or president hoover would have, or the president's bush have. he was old-time. he thought it's a wonderful story, also a love for his wife. at that time he thought a president should raise the money for himself, all of it. and he loves his wife very much, grace, and she sacrificed a lot. she was originally a teacher of the deaf at the clark school in northampton, massachusetts. so he told his friend, clarence barren, raise me money, afterwards, and clarence said anything calvin. very close to the "wall street journal," anything calvin, okay, i'll raise money -- and everyone thought well it should be for the coolidge archive right? and he want to to be at a local library, and this judge form the
legendary figure in northampton. and calvin said no, let the money be arrived from my wife's charity, the clark school for the deaf. so he took the money that would have preserved him, and instead poured it into her charity. that's a great gift of love. and when you think about it you see why. maybe he felt he was a little frail. she had given up a lot for him. she called marriage a harness, and she loved him but she knew it was a harness. they pushed together forward and he wanted to pay her back, and he knew she wanted to be around decades after, and he wanted her to be the decade of the town. they gave the money to that, she was the chief owner of the school of the death. he gave his money to her. >> brian: you say in your book, and we notice a lot of this happening lately that you read the direasonable doubt of his doctor.
why are these presidential doctors and they're doing it today publishing their diaries? >> amity: i don't think -- some of it is published, and some of it isn't. i'm not wild about the doctor, the doctor is a little creepy. >> brian: why. >> amity: had strong opinions about the family, the husband is mean to the wife, calvin. marriage is a complicated thing and no one can ever know all of it. and i don't envy the white house for cupels, because it's really a court, and everyone's edgic to favor one or the other, the president has a court, and the first lady has a court. the coolidges had a minimum of that because they were good people, but it was there, and the doctor sided with mrs. coolidge, the extrovert to his introvert, and they played off each other, but he knew she was the extrovert, and he knew why he was the introvert, and their marriage is admirable, in an interesting way, as you can
see in the post-presidency gift. >> brian: how did you get on the board. >> amity: it is a place that requires support, and if i can do anything to help, i'm not rich, but if i can help to bring others there to support the calvin coolidge memorial foundation i will. we have a great director, dr. serra, and it's coolidge's mecca. >> brian: where is his -- >> amity: it's where you go to. you drive north past led ledvillvermont, where there's a ski resort. not much further than brattleboro, bellows falls. you drive up and you will see something amazing. you can stay in the ski reports like hawk mountain, or the little bed and breakfasts around it. it's not far from dartmouth college.
it's simple, and it will change your life and your children's if you see it. you can see the room upstairs where he worked. you can see the church where one of his ancestors bought a pew, and got involved in the town records. the coolidges were allergic to debt. they were terrified to debt. this is a story of how you overcome debt as a country or an individual. there was an ancestor that was a debtor, that's what the book opened with -- but this was their economics, their business, their small farms were so important in their lives, and sl for how hard it was in vermont in that time. >> brian: got some video from a program we did in 1999 on presidents, and his son john was still alive. he's very old in this. how old was he when he died? 90's, i know that, and it's not
so long ago did you ever talk to him. >> amity: he was born around 19o06. >> brian: let's wamp this you have to listen carefully but he said talking about his brother calvin, and i wanted to get that story for him. >> your brother calvin -- do you have any fond memories of him you'd like to relate? >> well i remember when we were all together, we were always together. i had trouble keeping up with him in school. he was a good student, better than i was. he was quiet. didn't always join in some of the things that i did. he wasn't into baseball, which i
was. >> brian: so the impact of calvin, jr., on the coolidge presidency. >> amity: like a lincoln story -- it's an amazing tragedy. calvin, jr. was about 16, and he got a blister on the tennis court of the white house, and the blister went septic, and he died within a week. if you can imagine from a blister to death, before antibiotics came in, and we were affected by these things. so what a story. and there was nothing they can do about it. coolidge had lost his sister, he had lost his sister, and now he was losing calvin, who was the luck child of the family. indeed as you can hear from a happy guy, very clever. extremely loyal. and he didn't -- know what to do. i think other historians have told the story of the death of calvin as the end of the
coolidge presidency. this is in 1924. he was elected that year on his own. four more years, and they say well, he was depressed for the next four years. i don't see that. it's not a story of yes, but -- of calvin, it's but -- yes. he -- the life of their families no one could understand. and you see a lot of trouble, and anger, and soul he took a tree from the lot of his family in plymouth, and they planted it somewhere around the white house. i have not been able to discern what happened to that tree. i'm not sure it made it. you can't always take a spruce and replant it in washington soil. but they planted it and look out the window near the tennis court and see where calvin had been. and the president said the joy of the presidency went out for me. but i see him pursuing in a grand campaign his civil war was
the tax campaign. he poured his energy into that instead. and did prevail in the tax campaign in 1926. he won the presidency outstandingly, can you imagine your son dies and you win in 1924 as president beating the third party, the progressive party and the democrats combined. the republicans had the absolute majority in 24, even though a lot of the progressives were former republicans. so he was tremendously popular because of his perseverance in part. but this story of calvin -- it came over them, and you can see after the presidency mrs. coolidge felt free to write about calvin, which she hadn't. they didn't go out in sorrow about their child in public, they're very reserved people, very conscious of station. but afterwards there is a poem that we have that she wrote, and of course it changed their life forever.
calvin said, calvin was the child who expresses the things you want expressed but i want to give credit to john, too, for opening the window to calvin so lovingly, not committee with him. calvin said when he worked in the tobacco field, someone said well -- if my dad were vice president or president i sure wouldn't work in a tobacco field in massachusetts. calvin said, if your dad were my dad you would. the coolidges wanted their kids to work. the coolidges emphasized the virtue of what a contrast it's a big contrast from the roosevelt where the kids ran around the house, and made a lot of noise, and it was fun. you can see this by the tell-all from the servants, but i think they were a bit rambunctious, the coolidges were rigid with their kids about behaving in the white house, in a joyless way, coombage was extremely hard on john, and the low point of his
life are the letters to john which are in the bury archive where he berates john for not performing well in college. so -- every tragedy like a loss of a child has an affect. they suffered from the loss of calvin, jr. but they dit persevere. and what i like about john, i wish i had known him. he was so good about preserving his father's legacy. he understood and he was a wonderful man in that way. with incredible empathy, and for example, the cheese factory in plymouth notch, which was the president's fathers, they wanted to make money from dairy, it's always a struggle. they had a cheese factory because before refrigeration, cheese was the way you transmitted protein. john started that again, as a symbol of what it had meant to be a struggling farmer. and it was important to coolidge because he always vetoed
agricultural sucksdy, farmers never had made much money. but that community didn't understand how it was to be a farmer. >> brian: so how did you now working for the george bush foundation -- how do you lineup the fact that he had a $5 trillion addition to the debt. >> amity: these are questions we have to ask a lot of presidents. and am historically, and economically oriented person, and i see that war costs a lot of money, so let's say that first of all. but one of the splendid things about george w. bush, is his great big spirit. so if i came up to the president and i don't report to him, it's a real foundation doing work in many areas including, for example, touring cervical cancer in africa. and said president bush you were wrong about medicare part d.
he would say well maybe i was. or he would say i wasn't wrong, but he has no trouble creating an intellectual home for people with different ideas who might say something that might not be totally where he was. or familiarity him. in that he is very much like coolidge. he is not a vein man or a narcissist, he wants to serve, and there's a connection there with both bushes, and coolidge,ilities their sense of service, their sense of pride, their piety, they know it's an office that we're serving in. i see in president bush very little vanity about with the foundation. after coolidge, it wasn't about him. once you've been the most important person in the world, you have to say we all know that person, once you've been on television all your life very people are not vain afterwards.
how do you overcome that, and service. this preoccupies president bush. >> brian: vice president bush became president in many eyes because he was the vice president with ronald reagan. and his son, george, became president because of the fame of the name bush. and you say two things that made calvin coolidge president was the boston police strike and the fact he was picked at vice president. so let's start with the vice president thing. and how was he chosen. >> amity: how was coolidge chosen? yes, imagine we have the problem of public sector unions, we might like the people in them but they're asking a lot. where reagan had air traffic controllers, they were in a union, patco, they were good guys, and they were asking a lot. in the case of reagan and patco, they were jeopardizing public safety. because planes are important,
they can crash. so coolidge had an analogous situation as governor of massachusetts. and because of certain anomalies in their law the governor had a say in the police story in boston. the police many of boston went on strike after world war i. they were nice guys. they were underpaid, there was a terrible inflation no one was acknowledging, their station houses had rats, rodents chewed on their helmets. 18 ways they deserved a raise, and better treatment. they were overworked. nonetheless they walked off and this is a very rough time in history. much rougher there was chaos and violence, and rioting and looting in boston. so coolidge was on the team, the leader of it that fired these policemen. they went in a union with sam gompers, not really a radical union, the union that was a favorite of president wilson. but coolidge had no right to
strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time. but those were the three phrases, no right to strike against the public safety. i'm drawing a line. and he was incredibly scary about this from a political point of view because he had an election a few months away. he liked irishman, he was famous for getting the irish vote. the policemen are irish. their horses love them, he was firing them, what a bold controversial move. why wasn't it all good? the reason it was good because there's a limit to what a public sector union should do, and jeopardize the city's safety is too far. and after that move, the unions and the cities didn't do that anymore, and the cities felt safer and commerce was easier after that rough period. he received national recognize including from wilson who waffled on the same shoe for his
bravery he did win election again even though he turned his back on the irishman, even though he felt terrible about it. that gave him national stature, and that's why he was chosen. he thought he would chosen for president. >> brian: you paint a picture of wilson going across and how did they stay in touch in those days, and what did wilson contribute to that whole debate. >> amity: they didn't really stay in touch. coolidge might call the navy or somebody, or war department for help, and you do see some traffic from franklin roosevelt who was navy in this whole issue of the strike and the port city, need to police it, need to feed it, you know. would there be a general strike. but wilson communicated through sam gompers who had gone to
versai, who had kept -- >> brian: samuel gompers what did he run. >> amity: afl, american foundation of laborers. the future of american and europe workers was important. we knew there was going to be revolution in europe. you imagine the sove i want union being formed, maybe germany is going communniest. >> brian: what year. >> amity: 1918, 1920, our budget had gone up, it was one billion, it went epito 18 billion, 18 times. we wonder whether we were bankrupt from world war i. all of this is going on so you need to keep the peace. and that's what sam gompers was. >> brian: but a whole bunch of the policemen were fired. were any hired back.
>> amity: no, the ones we called scabs, the one's they hired new ones and that was to make a point. that's rough deterrent justice of an old-fashioned variety that we find incredible today. but willsen waffled, and if you read in that chapter on one day he's kind of on the side of the public union. he had his own strike to deal with in washington. he was in charged of washington, d.c. he was -- i have to keep labor quiet so i can sell the league of nations. he was choosing among them, very tired, about to have a stroke. and there were these boston policemen, and he didn't know how to deal with it. and the governor of massachusetts dealt with it, and that was coolidge. and wilson says pretty good, okay, i accept that, because unions can't go too far.
because even gompers was ambivalent. he thought he should within because he had a national stature of showing how tough he was. just as we would have a governor now doing that. he had a problem, henry cabot lodge, the senior senator from massachusetts. a great snob, the nominal -- the not nominal but really the leader of the senate. lodge was vain and it was all about lodge, and the coolidges all over massachusetts, coolidge was some co. swamp back woods coolidge, not the kind of coolidge that logic knew from harvard. they considered amhighers the backwards. and he didn't take calvin coolidge seriously. he toyed with him, at times he told him he thought he'd be a
good candidate, other times not. if your own state is not for you, surely you're not going to be nominated to be the president. and coolidge didn't go to the -- in chicago. and how harding was chosen as senator, to be president but there was a rebellion that the senate was running the whole thing at chicago. the republican convention. and out of that rebellion someone said i'm going to nominate a governor. they that lain root would be a republican from the midwest, and instead they said let's get a governor. so it was a westerner who said coolidge for vice president, he's a governor, let's have him. and there was a lot of pause all of a sudden at the convention. and that's how coolidge got it. unexpectedly i would estimate to lodge's displeasure. >> brian: you say after calvin coolidge was elected in 1924 as
the president, fully elected after the death of harden, his vice president was charles does and they didn't like each other, or he didn't like doz. >> amity: doz wasn't -- he was the deputy from hell. doz was a wonderful man, he was in charge of procurement and distribution in world war ii, getting stuff for the generals to the front line. so he gave a famous speech called the helen maria speech where someone was picking at how he spent money to get things to the front line to win the war. and he said helen maria we would do anything to win that war. he went the other way then, and was in charge of cutting the budget after the war. and a crucial job, we should look at now when we're writing a new budget law because they had had a budget law where they created a budget office.
a fore-runner to the omb but with more power. doz did this, cut the budget, the doz plan helping germany. we lend them money the germans paid everyone else back. chicago land family but he was a maverick, he'd go his own way. what infuriated coolidge is coolidge had closed confirmation hearings planned, and doz used his inauguration time to get up and berate the senators for their poor behavior and abuse of the filibuster essentially. and he antagonized the senate. rather than follow his orders from calvin, his president to appease, make friends with, grease the wheels, for the nominations to come. >> brian: you tell stern about calvin coolidge having breakfast at the white house, and a lot of memories of the senate, calling
in sick, not wanting to come. >> amity: he wasn't a get along guy. harding was the get-along guy. so coolidge had come in and said governor. he sat over the senate, i don't think it was fun to him. when he had formerly provided over the senate of the state of massachusetts where you can vote not just in a tie but you have more power as the head of the state of massachusetts in that body as you do as vice president. he hadn't really liked the senator lodge, made his life hell there when he was president, and he but -- i want to say i think it was his virtue that made him not want to come. this story is coolidge would host vermont breakfasts and usher ike hoover, the usher would round up the people, ike hoover did not lie like the president, coolidge was not a great dinner. everybody loves facetime with
the president. the senators didn't go. so there was a roster of excuses, sick, sick, senator read, wife sick, or friend sick -- and you're like wow, ike hoover maliciously kept a record of the negative r svp's, but when i see why the senators turned down the vermont breakfasts from the coolidge's properties they knew he wasn't going to give them anything. imagine the incredible pressure prosperity has been there for years. the budget should grow, why not, why shouldn't it grow over the farms need something. let's nationalalize power. let's give the vets more -- one -- after the other and coolidge was so unsatisfying he always said no, and for a while they turned his back -- their back on him. >> brian: that's odd because i don't know during the book but i
wanted to ask you he was offered presidency of amherst, and he said its easier to control a congress than a college faculty. >> amity: that makes sense, there was a story there. there was a rogue president of amherst, his friend dwight morrow had put in. michael jones name is from wisconsin where he went later and created an interesting experimental college as a great legacy there. michael john -- was progressive in a way that the amherst men weren't used to. and he basically wasn't friendly to world world war i. and that was as divisive as the iraq war has been lately. it was a scissors through society, you were on one side or the other, you were on amherst or michael john. and eventually they forced him out, he didn't go easily and coolidge was on the side that
forced him out, and he wasn't happy with that because he could see -- they could all see michael john was talented. it was a hard call. and they were all -- all of a sudden these nice men had negative articles about him in the new republic when they fancied themselves fine fellose. and they thought what they were doing was for amherst, and michael john spent quite a bit of money, he borrowed and other than spent on his personal life. this was a burr on their sides. they were unpopular for rejecting this university president, and he didn't want to go involved in those politic rationally enough. there was also a head name. >> brian: i heard he gave $670,000 what he willed to her. i don't know if it was exactly but it shows it would be worth $12 million today. >> amity: he wasn't poor. >> brian: how did he make it? >> amity: he had had another
career as a successful journalist. calvin coolidge, calmness, and i like that about him too, and i hope to build some things around that. coolidge wrote a college every day. imagine -- >> brian: how long? >> amity: 500 words. >> brian: did you read a lot of them. >> amity: i did, there was a wonderful book he stopped after a year like he decided not to run again in '28. he said that's enough -- but a lot of papers took the call and they made $75,000 as u.s. president. he made more as a columnist, it was an embarrassing amount of money because remember how many papers we had then. remember every website paid you a little. i believe he made 200,000 alone for from a column. he wrote the column, he was exceedingly popular. is there time for one story
about that? >> brian: very little time but go ahead. >> amity: somebody paid him to write ten columns for $2,000 each. and okay, he sends them in, get the money, and they publish only 6. he summons the editor at issue and says guess what the editor say y wrote ten and you published only six. and what does the editor say in response? but we paid you. which is the standard answer, and coolidge said well maybe those columns weren't good enough, here's a check for the columns you didn't print, $8,000 back. and then we ask, why would he give back the money if the contract said $20,000, he was entitled to keep it, that was his business philosophy lesson. he wanted to be a good citizen, and do business with the other party again. very admirable behavior. >> brian: which one of your
children will be the amity slaves of the 2025 calendar year. the writers -- >> amity: i'm going to say hele- >> brian: which one would be the teacher. >> amity: i'm going to say -- very difficult questions. they're all going to be very good. this is dedicated to them for their own verse convenience, the coolidge theme, they all persevere and i'm very proud of them. >> brian: we're out of time but is there anything new about calvin coolidge that you found in this book. >> amity: that he struggled with debt and found a solution. as we do today, and struggle with our own. >> brian: the picture on the cover is from where? >> amity: looks to me like the beginning of the pres dependency, 1924. looks like before his son died,
very happy. >> brian: thank you amity shales, author of "coolidge." >> calvin coolidge was ranked 27th among the presidents in our first historian president of leadership. he remained in that same spot in 2017. as you heard coolidge biographer amsty shales thinks he deserves better. he is one of 43 presidential biographers, featured in c-span's book, "the president" it will be in your favorite bookstore on april 23rd. >> book tv continues on c-span 2. television for serious readers. >> and this weekend book tv is live from los angeles for the l.a. times festival of books. it's held on the campus of the university of southern california. starting at 1:30 p.m. eastern time, that's 10:30 a.m. pacific time it's another full day of live festival coverage. featured authors will include
janet napolitano. -- check your cable guides or booktv.org for a complete schedule, and follow us on social media. @book tv is our handle for facebook, twitter and instagram. >> and beginning now it's book tv's coverage from earlier today of the "los angeles times" festival of s books. you'll hear authors discussion on history, politics, science, and several viewer call-in programs as well. for a complete television schedule check your cable guide. now first up, is an author discussion on investigative reporting including books about lead levels in the water in flint, michigan, drug abuse, and fracking. >> this is a bright and sunny day, and it is a wonderful time to be in an auditorium with these three people. this is the panel on exp