A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIV
And Sits in the Seat of the Mighty

During his first months in the White House, when President Coolidge went across the land, he observed that national economic and industrial progress had run in a parallel course to the line of progress which he saw while he shuttled from Northampton to Boston and back during the two decades of his public service. Electrical invention had been knitting ali industry in all America into a close class-conscious structure, into interlocking directorates, into industrial homogeneity. Here was a new fiduciary invention--produced by electrical financial welding, highly effective, highly possessive rather than creative. The savings mounting in the hanks of the little Massachusetts towns were but replicas of mounting savings in tens of thousands of various institutions, trust companies, building and loans, insurance companies, savings banks, mortgage companies all over his America. These savings, by the legerdemain of new business methods and morals had become one lake of capital, placid on the surface, sustained in its waterline by constant springs in the hills while it was being drained slowly into Wall Street.1 It was a lake of debt--bonds, mortgages, preferred stock,2 all sorts of curious evidences of obligation were dumped into the lake replacing the fluid capital drained off the cash reserves. Thus as the machines to make machines had been creating industrial debt in plant expansion, the secondary machines themselves were speeding up consumption, piling up goods and chattels at the factory doors. The economic problem of perpetual motion seemed to be solved. Production had been hooked up to the golden machine of perennial credit. We were making

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1
"The Modern Corporation and Private Property" by Berle and Means.
2
"Railroads: Finance and Organization" "Railroads: Rates and Regulation," by W. Z. Ripley .

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