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Highlight: Calvin Coolidge and His Stance on Small Government

Highlight: Calvin Coolidge and His Stance on Small Government

Nick Pierson |

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, served from 1923 to 1929 and left a lasting legacy through his steadfast commitment to small government. Known for his quiet demeanor and frugal policies, Coolidge’s presidency is often remembered for its emphasis on limited government intervention, fiscal responsibility, and the promotion of individual liberty. In this blog post, we’ll delve into Coolidge's philosophy on small government, his key policies, and the impact of his administration on American politics.

Calvin Coolidge: A Brief Background

Calvin Coolidge, born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, was a lawyer and politician who rose through the ranks of Massachusetts politics before becoming Vice President under Warren G. Harding. Upon Harding's sudden death in 1923, Coolidge assumed the presidency. Known as "Silent Cal" for his reserved nature, Coolidge's approach to governance was characterized by a minimalist attitude, deeply rooted in his belief in the virtues of small government.

The Philosophy of Small Government

Coolidge's stance on small government was influenced by his belief in the importance of individual liberty and economic freedom. He believed that a government that governs least governs best, and that excessive government intervention stifles personal initiative and economic growth. Coolidge was a proponent of laissez-faire economics, advocating for minimal regulation and low taxation as means to promote prosperity.

Key Policies and Achievements

1. Tax Cuts and Fiscal Responsibility

One of Coolidge's most significant achievements was his commitment to reducing the national debt and cutting taxes. Under his administration, the Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926 were passed, which lowered federal income tax rates significantly. Coolidge believed that lower taxes would spur economic growth by leaving more money in the hands of individuals and businesses.

2. Reduction of Federal Spending

Coolidge was dedicated to reducing federal spending. He vetoed numerous bills that he believed would unnecessarily increase government expenditure and worked tirelessly to cut down on what he saw as wasteful spending. This fiscal conservatism helped maintain a balanced budget throughout his presidency.

3. Promotion of Business and Industry

Coolidge's administration was marked by a close relationship with the business community. He believed that the role of government was to create a favorable environment for businesses to thrive. This included reducing regulations and promoting policies that encouraged industrial growth and innovation.

4. Non-Intervention in the Economy

Coolidge was a strong advocate for non-intervention in the economy. He believed that the free market, when left alone, was the best mechanism for determining economic outcomes. This hands-off approach was a stark contrast to the more interventionist policies that would come in later years.

The Impact of Coolidge's Administration

Coolidge's tenure saw significant economic growth and prosperity, often referred to as the "Roaring Twenties." The stock market boomed, and consumer confidence was high. However, critics argue that the lack of regulation and oversight contributed to the conditions that led to the Great Depression. Despite this, Coolidge’s policies left an enduring legacy in American political thought, particularly within the conservative movement, which continues to champion small government and fiscal conservatism.


Calvin Coolidge’s presidency remains a pivotal example of the principles of small government and fiscal conservatism. His dedication to reducing taxes, cutting federal spending, and promoting economic freedom had a lasting impact on American politics and economic policy. While opinions on the effectiveness of his policies may vary, Coolidge's commitment to small government has solidified his place in history as a champion of limited government intervention and individual liberty.

For those interested in further exploring Coolidge’s presidency and his impact on American political thought, here are some recommended readings:

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