A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
Upon Which Our Hero Plays Second Fiddle

WHAT was Coolidge luck? The theory of his enemies during his lifetime that he was the product of the misfortunes of others is supported by certain facts. Nevertheless, these facts do not convey the truth. But they are interesting, these facts; convincing unless one puts into the equation another fact. Time and again in his career, when Coolidge was elected mayor, when he went to the State Senate, when he was made president of the State Senate, when he was elected lieutenant governor, an examination of the circumstances surrounding the promotion shows that Coolidge's rise came when someone else stumbled, though never did Coolidge trip the stumbling man. But the other important fact to know about Coolidge which changes the luck theory is that when the other man fell, Coolidge had within his own mind and heart certain important survival qualities, qualities which gave him powerful friends, which set him down in a powerful party and made him an active, useful and sometimes a necessary member of the dominant faction of that party. So that when the other man fell, Coolidge's friends, moved somewhat by his obvious loyalty and by his capacity to make his loyalty useful to them, gave him a hand and helped him to rise where another had fallen. Coolidge himself was Coolidge luck.

This run of luck favored him after his nomination for the Presidency in June, 1924. The Democratic National Convention of that year, which met two weeks after Coolidge's nomination, staged a fall, such a fall as Coolidge's luck was always able to capitalize. A row started inside the Democratic party in the national convention in Madison Square Garden, New York, which made Coolidge's election certain, but only because Coolidge had built himself up as a trustworthy figure before the country. A united

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