A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
He Pussyfoots the Path to Glory

"I HAVE known Calvin Coolidge," Senator Henry Cabot Lodge is quoted as saying in the apocrypha of politics in 1920, "only as long as it has been necessary to know him."

Probably Lodge did not say exactly that, but National Republican leaders were speculative in their early attitude toward the new Massachusetts hero. To Lodge and his Massachusetts followers, the presence of Coolidge, under the spotlight as a Presidential possibility, was disquieting. Moreover in Washington the senatorial managers of the Republican party were the Massachusetts Senator's friends. They controlled the National Republican Central Committee and so dominated the National Republican Convention that was to assemble in June, 1920. Clearly they regarded as an upstart this new figure from Massachusetts, disporting himself with rather obvious modesty under the spotlight. The plans of the Republican organization were not, of course, definitely settled. Harry Daugherty, of Ohio, one of the Republican Temple high priests, was being widely quoted in the winter and spring of 1920 as uttering a prophecy that when the Republican Convention had been in session for two or three days, a small group of leaders would meet in a smoke-filled hotel bedroom to choose the man to be nominated about 2:11 o'clock Saturday morning and that some time Saturday the nomination would be made. And Daugherty further proclaimed that Senator Warren G. Harding, of Ohio, would be the man.1 So came Harding into his first fame as a Presidential candidate; a fame that became a byword linked to a boast about the power of the manipulators in that

____________________
1
As a matter of cold fact the prophecy to all intents and purposes was Daugherty's. The actual language save for the time, 2:11, was a political reporter's colloquialism. See Mark Sullivan "Out Times: The Twenties."

-177-

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