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By Dr. Ricard D. Ferrier
President’s Day Lecture
Thomas Aquinas College, New England
February 12, 2021

 

I wish to introduce you to a neighbor of your campus.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States of America, is the only President to have been born on the Fourth of July. As I hope to show you, this may be thought of as A Divine Sign.

Although Coolidge was educated at Amherst and served as Governor of Massachusetts before becoming first Vice-President and then President of the United States, Massachusetts was not his home. Plymouth Notch in Vermont was. He was born there and is buried there.

The places where his thought and character grew firm and clear are all a short drive from where we are tonight. Plymouth Notch, Amherst College, where he was blessed to have as a teacher Charles Garman, whom William James called, “The best college teacher in the United States,” and Northampton, where he first read law and started his career of public service.

But it was in Plymouth Notch, in the parlor of his modest family house, that his father, a Justice of the Peace, administered the Oath of Office to him on August 3, 1923. President Harding was dead. Now Coolidge had become president for the remainder of his term

Coolidge easily won the Presidential election of 1924. He carried every State outside the South, save for Wisconsin, which went for its native son and famous Progressive, Robert Lafollette. He began his full term in 1925. The year 1926 was the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Accordingly, when we Americans had occasion to recall that event and renew its meaning in our hearts, it fell to President Coolidge to give the ceremonial address for that purpose at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

He called it, “The Inspiration of the Declaration.”

My purpose in this lecture is to examine the teaching and rhetoric of that speech. My thesis is that in this speech Coolidge exhibits the best understanding any American President has had of what and who we are since Abraham Lincoln died in 1865.

We will look at the order and thought of this speech tonight.

 

Part One. Resting in the truth.

Coolidge starts his speech with this sentence:

 “We meet to celebrate the birthday of America.”

I can’t hear that without thinking of these words, familiar to us all: A NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM.

From the Gettysburg Address:

 … we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln used the language of birth in the first sentence of his speech, too:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

The Bible for Lincoln and all but a few Americans in those days was the KJV, and Lincoln knew it well. Notice the words used in Luke’s account of the Annunciation:

“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”

Have you done the reckoning with four score and seven? The Gettysburg Address was delivered in November 1863. Four score and seven is 87 — 1863 take away 87 gives you 1776. The year of the Declaration.

There is a reason why Lincoln denominated that year in solemn language, scriptural language. A figure lurks in the shadows, the figure of John C. Calhoun. Calhoun and the secessionists saw the Federal Union as a mere confederacy or league among the several states, sealed not in 1776, but in 1790, by the ratification of the Constitution. And breakable at will by the parties, the states.

Calhoun, who died in 1850, held high offices in the Federal government for many years. He was an intelligent and learned man. He wrote a book proposing a novel theory of republican government, one that rejected the Declaration, defended secession, and endorsed slavery. His ideas pointed to a way America could “progress” beyond the imperfect Founding. His disciples would put his theory to use in the “Secession Winter” of 1860-61.

To say, as Lincoln did, that the Union was born in 1776 and not changed, but only made “more perfect” by the ratification of 1790, is to say that the brave men of Lee’s army, so many of whom died in the battle of Gettysburg, were Rebels. It is to say that the secession of 1860-61was nothing but rebellion. Lincoln’s audience was well aware of this fact.

We are assembled here tonight, to be sure, principally to think with Coolidge, and not Calhoun or even Lincoln.

And Calvin Coolidge is commemorating a birth 150 years before his speech, not, as was the case with Lincoln’s address, a new birth 87 years after the first one. But like Lincoln, President Coolidge speaks against a shadowy figure and his followers, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives of his day.

I will return to the Progressives later.

Now let us return to the logos, the argument, of the speech.

 

THE DESIGN OF THE ADDRESS

Coolidge sets out the central thought of the Declaration first. He sees it as two self-evident truths and an inference drawn from them. “These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.”

This passage concludes part one of the address.

Next, he argues that as a matter of historical fact, this thought, though fully reasonable, found its source and its power in the religious feelings and teachings of our colonial forefathers, not in the French or English “Enlightenment.”

He tells us, should we wish to understand our Patrimony, to look to the sermons of Revs. Thomas Hooker and John Wise, not the subversive Leviathan of atheist Thomas Hobbes. The Declaration owes more to Moses and St. Paul than it does to Montesquieu and Locke. Coolidge puts it thus:

[American clerics] preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy.

This nicely sums up part two.

Finally, Coolidge turns to the perpetuation of the spirit of the Declaration in our times, and the dangers posed by materialism and the progressive movement of the early 20th Century. He says: “We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp.”

The powerful peroration exhorts us to keep the torch of liberty lit by remembering and living the truths that gave rise to our Republic. Here it is:

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. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.

 

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RHETORIC OF PART ONE.

The political astuteness and rhetorical craftmanship of Part One merit some attention.

First, Coolidge notes the simple fact of venue. The address was delivered in Independence Hall. Dignitaries, American and Foreign, were in attendance. The gathering was like a pilgrimage to sacred ground, to a temple dedicated to Liberty by a mighty deed. The tribes of the Peoples, all sorts and condition of mankind, had gone up to this temple to commemorate a High Holy Day.

Coolidge put it better than I can:

Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgment of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

I’d like to mention at this point that Coolidge, like many American statesmen before him, but almost none today, composed his own speeches. A thought-provoking fact. His rhetoric, like that of any great Orator, is marked by certain idiosyncrasies. Sir Isaac Newton’s mathematical style is too. Once Newton submitted an answer to a prize problem proposed by Johann Bernoulli. The solution was unsigned. But Bernoulli discerned it as from the hand of Sir Isaac. Bernoulli said, 'tanquam ex ungue leonem' : “We recognize the lion from his paw.”

In the speeches of Coolidge, the first footprint I notice is repetition, often in summations. You will see it in some of the passages I quote from him. The second is balanced antithesis. A third is to follow a fully displayed thought with an almost aphoristic, short, and simple summarizing sentence.

Speaking of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, he repeats the notion of holiness we have just encountered:

It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic [repetition]. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. They have long been identified with a great cause. [repetition + balanced antithesis]. They are the framework of a spiritual event [aphoristic simple summing up].

The world looks upon them, because of their associations of one hundred and fifty years ago, as it looks upon the Holy Land because of what took place there nineteen hundred years ago [repetition].

Through use for a righteous purpose they have become sanctified [aphoristic summary sentence].

I find these aspects of the paragraph we have just analyzed make it clearer, more memorable, and more persuasive. Do you?

Let’s look at the longest sentence in the paragraph:

That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them.

The antithesis here is between what two poles? Are they not the “uninstructed” and “those who know?” To turn about the first pole is to be modern, to despise the “outgrown and “shattered” and to see or anyway, to prefer, only “more modern conveniences.” Moreover, the “relics” are reduced to their materials, a “pile of bricks” and “a mass of metal.”

Those who revolve around the true pole see “a great cause,” a “Framework,” a “Spiritual event.” Thus the difference between the insightful and the blind becomes this: Fhe former reach the interior, the form; the latter see only matter.

Coolidge never read Aristotle so far as I know, but I suspect that Aristotle is smiling from his semi-darkness in Limbo where Dante places him in the Divine Comedy, if he can hear, from the other world, these words.

By the way, did you know that Coolidge made a translation of Dante’s Inferno as a wedding present to Grace, his bride?

The force of this in American terms is a rebuke of our infatuation with progress There are some things beyond which we ought not, indeed, cannot progress. The figure in the shadows now becomes more distinct. It has to be a “Progressive.” Is it perhaps Woodrow Wilson?

Coolidge had gestured toward something that threatens the “Spiritual Event” of 1776 before, when he imitated some of the Gettysburg Address earlier. Lincoln, too had made public remarks at Independence Hall, on his way to Washington to be sworn in as President of the United States, in 1861.They included these words:

I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here, in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live…

 …I can say, Sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

My friends, this is wholly an unexpected speech, and I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here. I supposed it was merely to do something toward raising the flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. (Cries of “No, no!”) I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.

We have seen two gestures directed at Wilson and his faction, the progressives. The first was when Lincoln’s nemeses, Calhoun and the Secessionists, spiritual cousins of Wilson in his desire to get beyond the Founding, were dealt a subtle rebuke by the use of birth as the theme of the first paragraph of the address, to say nothing of the location and occasion themselves

I promise to return to the progressives later.

Coolidge and Lincoln both give us wonderful examples of republican rhetoric. All we need do to become eloquent for a time is to explain them.

Coolidge mentions the Revolution and its causes, but only with a light touch. The economic provocations of The Stamp Act and “navigation laws” receive less than a full paragraph.

More attention is given to the people and their character. The Revolution is said to have been neither top down nor bottom up. Most of the wealthy or well-born did not support it, or even actively resisted it. As to the notion of poor and ignorant masses bringing it about, Coolidge dismisses it with these two brisk and patriotic sentences:

It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum.

The paragraph concludes thus:

The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

In the Politics Aristotle famously argues for a regime free from domination by the many or the few, the poor or rich, and graced by a large and decent middle element. Coolidge agrees.

But any polity requires a few, not ruling by wealth or birth, and certainly not maimed by poverty, to have and be able to exercise political prudence. Coolidge follows this line of thinking in the next paragraph, with a characteristically American addition. Representation.

Note the threefold repetition in the way he does this:

The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its Members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given they were inclined to withhold action.

Now the Congress he has in mind, the one that adopted the Declaration, was composed of delegations from the several states. This fact enables Coolidge to indulge in a little stroking of state pride. He reviews in laudatory terms the “yeas” of the delegations of six states, four of them Southern. Oh, and he gives New York a gentle frown. That one pleases me especially.

Finally, he turns to the significance of the Act of that Congress: the DECLARATION of independence.

I had said earlier that Part One ends with two propositions and a deduction from them. This is the first sentence of that paragraph:

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.

The conclusion, the two axioms and the implication are worth hearing again [repetition].

“…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.”

 

Part Two.

The fact that the People’s representatives made the Declaration leads into the consideration of practical politics. Coolidge was thoughtful, but he was not only a thinking man. He was a Statesman. His interest in the sources of the Great Ideas fundamental to the Declaration of Independence did not blind him in any way to the Great Task of making them the charter of a truly independent People, which was to “assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them.”

Coolidge is famous for his parsimonious use of words. He is the American Lacedaemonian par excellence. His average sentence length, according to some industrious scholar, is less than that of Theodore Roosevelt [41] Wilson [31.8] and Lincoln [26.6] Silent Cal comes in at 18 words, on average

The longest single sentence in the Address, 120 words by my count, is devoted to the importance of the success of the “armies of Washington already in the field” in making the independence of the nation to be founded upon those principles a reality.

Following this, he turns to the evidence for the claim cited earlier, the Declaration “though fully reasonable, found its source and its power in the religious feelings and teachings of our colonial forefathers, not in the French or English ‘Enlightenment.’” He grants some influence coming from the “speculations … in England … and especially on the continent,” but forthrightly declares, when we contemplate “the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live.

They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.”

If Coolidge is right about the principles of the Declaration, then the republic founded on these principles, our American Republic, will only endure if we hold fast to the principles. And this is the continuing task, not so much of the American Governments, but of the American People. Coolidge is emphatic on that point. “The people have to bear their own responsibilities.”

I now come to the passage that first gave me both delight and appreciation for Coolidge as a master Orator. At the same time Woodrow Wilson the Progressive will step out of the shadows, and we will see what Coolidge is subtly saying about him and Progressive politics. I will be quoting a sizeable stretch of the text here.

First, this perfect topic sentence:

“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.”

Taste its Aristotelean language. Savor it. Finality. Rest. In political thought, as in the Physics of a world of manifest Mutability, Rest, not endless change, has the last, or better, the first and last, word. And what is the contrary to this fundamental truth? Progress. Endless progress, towards no end.

Now political wisdom must indeed accommodate mutability. This is a feature of our constitution. Even though it was framed with the permanent principles of the Declaration in mind, it provides for amendment. And it has been amended, sometimes in weighty manner. But what about the principles themselves, as set forth in the document? Here is Coolidge on that question:

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 can not be applied to this great charter.

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, 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 now, I wish to call two great Progressives to the stand to give their testimony about these things.

First, the most famous and influential historian of the early 20th century, Charles Beard. Wilson waits in the wings.

I quote from a lecture Beard gave at Columbia in 1908:

“… in comparing the political writings of the last twenty-five years with earlier treatises one is struck with decreasing reference to the doctrine of natural rights as a basis for political practice. The theory has been rejected … because we have come to recognize since Darwin’s day that the nature of things, once supposed to be eternal, is itself a stream of tendency.”

And, in the same lecture, Beard said:

“Locke mistakenly depended upon an understanding of nature, using abstract reason, rather than history, and the method of science, to understand politics ... The influence of the historical school on correct thinking in politics has been splendidly supplemented by that of the Darwinians.”

Enter Wilson, stage left.

In that same year, Wilson, quoting Edmund Burke, wrote:

“If any one ask me what a free government is, I reply, it is what the people think so,”

And, continuing in his own voice:

“The Declaration of Independence speaks to the same effect. We think of it as a highly theoretical document, but except for its assertion that all men are equal it is not. It is intensely practical, even upon the question of liberty … it expressly leaves to each generation of men the determination of what they will do with their lives, what they will prefer as the form and object of their liberty, in what they will seek their happiness.

In his 1913 book, The New Freedom, Wilson wrote:

… in every generation all sorts of speculation and thinking tend to fall under the formula of the dominant thought of the age. For example, after the Newtonian Theory of the universe had been developed, almost all thinking tended to express itself in the analogies of the Newtonian Theory, and since the Darwinian Theory has reigned amongst us, everybody is likely to express whatever he wishes to expound in terms of development and accommodation to environment.

Now, it came to me … that the Constitution of the United States had been made under the dominion of the Newtonian Theory. You have only to read the papers of The Federalist to see that fact written on every page. They speak of the “checks and balances” of the Constitution, and use to express their idea the simile of the organization of the universe, and particularly of the solar system,— how by the attraction of gravitation the various parts are held in their orbits; and then they proceed to represent Congress, the Judiciary, and the President as a sort of imitation of the solar system.

… It was a Frenchman, Montesquieu, who pointed out to them how faithfully they had copied Newton's description of the mechanism of the heavens.

The makers of our Federal Constitution read Montesquieu with true scientific enthusiasm. They were scientists in their way, — the best way of their age, — those fathers of the nation. Jefferson wrote of “the laws of Nature,” — and then by way of afterthought, — “and of Nature's God.” And they constructed a government as they would have constructed an orrery, — to display the laws of nature. Politics in their thought was a variety of mechanics. The Constitution was founded on the law of gravitation. The government was to exist and move by virtue of the efficacy of “checks and balances.”

The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live … Government is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day, of specialization, with a common task and purpose. Their co-operation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive co-ordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track.

Note here Wilson how dismisses theory with scorn, and elevates life.

Intelligence, and her first born, Political Principle, had been architectonic for those who establish and preserve Regimes from Aristotle to Lincoln. With Wilson, they yield pride of place to those upstart twins, Rationality and Reaction. Instrumental Rationality and Reaction to Circumstance. A Regime is “shaped by the pressures of Life … modified by the environment … necessitated by its tasks.” There is no best regime anymore, not even as a pattern laid up in Heaven, just as there is no perfect organism. All is in flux.

Who, discerning these pressures, this environment, and these tasks, will undertake the works of instrumental rationality? The people, well instructed by tradition and patriotism, can see and hold the truths of the Declaration’s unchanging principles, but who can survey the vast fields of ever changing facts so as to keep up with the times? Whoever such a man, or such men may be, they surely must be polymaths and experts. I suggest, “Administrators.”

Are you familiar with the concept, “Living Constitution”? Here you are seeing a phase of the birth of that monster.

Wilson continues:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.

All that progressives ask or desire is permission — in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word — to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776. … they have no consciousness … of what is going on to-day. The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no consequence to us unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the present day and substitute them in some vital way for the examples it itself gives, so concrete, so intimately involved in the circumstances of the day in which it was conceived and written. It is an eminently practical document, meant for the use of practical men; not a theory of government, but a program of action.

One of the “practical men” of Wilson’s day was his chief of staff, Colonel Edward House. House never served in the U.S. Army; he was no more a colonel than Jill Biden is an M.D. For most of Wilson’s tenure, House was the second most important man in his Administration.

House wrote a book, published anonymously in 1912 entitled, Phillip Dru, Administrator. It is a political fantasy novel, in which a second Civil War breaks out. The rebels, led by the charming and super intelligent Mr. Dru, defeat the United States Army, and institute a rational dictatorship, with Dru as Dictator. After mandating progressive “reforms,” Dru and his wife, Gloria, board a ship in San Francisco and sail off into the sunset.

Wild stuff, eh? But I am not making this up. As the sagacious Yogi Berra used to say, “You can look it up.”

Again, let us hear more from Wilson himself:

I used to say, when I had to do with the administration of an educational institution, that I should like to make the young gentlemen of the rising generation as unlike their fathers as possible. … because their fathers, by reason of their advancing years and their established position in society … were out of sympathy with the creative, formative and progressive forces of society.

Progress! Did you ever reflect that that word is almost a new one? No word comes more often or more naturally to the lips of modern man, as if the thing it stands for were almost synonymous with life itself, and yet men through many thousand years never talked or thought of progress. They thought in the other direction ... Progress, development, — those are modern words. The modern idea is to leave the past and press onward to something new.

Is it becoming clear now why I compare Wilson to Calhoun and call them dark figures in the shadows of Presidents Coolidge and Lincoln?

Indulge me in a little more from the great Coolidge Address to underline the point. Recall Wilson’s contempt for the “mechanical” System of Checks and Balances.” Now listen to Silent Cal’s Prophetic voice:

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution…

They undertook to balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guaranties of liberty.

As Jeremiah said of another law and truths deeper still:  “Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.”

I need not demonstrate, given what we have heard from Wilson, that he carried the title of “Reformer.” Does Coolidge have him in mind? The next words, from the Address are the following. How could he not?

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes.

Our American Jeremiah goes on to teach the “Old Paths.”

Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house.

They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.”

Hear again the climax of his Peroration:

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. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshipped.

It seems to me that it was fitting in the Divine Plan for such a man to have been born on the 4th of July. The spirit of Liberty, the spirit of ’76, descended upon him as did that much greater Spirit, with its tongues of fire, upon the Church twenty centuries ago.

President Calvin Coolidge, like Lincoln, was a successor to Washington and the other Apostles of our American “Novus Ordo Seclorum.”

He kept the Faith.

He merits our attention, and our homage.

 

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