The Tormented President: Calvin Coolidge, Death, and Clinical Depression

The Tormented President: Calvin Coolidge, Death, and Clinical Depression

The Tormented President: Calvin Coolidge, Death, and Clinical Depression

The Tormented President: Calvin Coolidge, Death, and Clinical Depression

Synopsis

Demonstrates that Calvin Coolidge suffered from clinical depression after the death of his teenaged son and served out the remainder of his presidency a sick and incapacitated man.

Excerpt

At the beginning of his presidency in 1981, Ronald Reagan caused something of a stir when he ordered Calvin Coolidge's portrait hung prominently in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Reagan indicated that Coolidge was among his favorite presidents because he had done so little in office except recommend and achieve tax cuts. In his 1990 autobiography, in fact, he embellished on this theme by explaining: "I'd always thought of Coolidge as one of our most underrated presidents…. He came into office after World War I facing a mountain of war debt but instead of raising taxes, he cut the tax rate and government revenues increased, permitting him to eliminate the wartime debt and proving that the principle…about lower taxes meaning greater tax revenues still worked in the modern world."

Yet, as will be discussed later in this book, most of the historians and political scientists who have studied the Coolidge presidency do not find his record nearly as praiseworthy as did Reagan. They point out that Coolidge achieved little in either domestic or foreign policy during his time in office, and include him among the nation's most forgettable presidents. Typically, Coolidge is described in historical accounts as an ineffective and lazy chief executive, one who slept away his years in office and who passed through the White House without leaving any footprints. The view that . . .

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