A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
Tragedy Approaches with Her Spotlight

THUS President Harding's first year passed and his second year began, while Coolidge every month put by in the Northampton savings bank a considerable part of his salary, dined where he must, played the President's double when he could, found his speeches growing longer in Washington than they were in Boston, but had more time on his hands. So he read. He read Wells' "Outline of History" from cover to cover.1 He always had in his office a sheaf of books from the Congressional Library, But not modern books. He was not a well read man in modern literature. He managed two or three current novels a year, mostly trash. He read the weekly magazines and every day systematically read the daily papers of the region, the New York Times for news, the New York Herald for editorials, the Baltimore Sun for politics, and the Washington Post for the local doings of the town.2 But none of these papers, no newspapers and few popular books in America, were publishing the big news of the day. For that news was still largely subterranean. It was not news then in any newspaper sense. Ten years later, the story of these subterranean events Became history.

The country during the two years of the Harding administration was trembling in the first light shock of the earthquake which was to topple the tall towers of Harding's utopia. Labor was wearing silk shirts, buying motorcars and moving into gaudy apartments. Also it was feeling its oats, and was striking. Industry had been speeded up to win the war. Wages had been raised to win the war. The war being over, two or three million young soldiers had returned from Barracks to industrial and commercial jobs.

____________________
1
March, Good Housekeeping, 1935.
2
Observation of the author watching Mr. Coolidge at his morning newspaper diversions.

-234-

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