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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

March 04, 1924

I haven't yet been able to make up my mind about a successor to Mr. Denby. I sometimes sit here at my desk and wish that I had the information at my command that is represented by you men. If I had all that information of the country and the men in it, as you do in your combined experiences, I could reach out and pick out a man for any place that the Government might need one to serve in, and that brings me to the suggestion that if any of you think of the right kind of a man for the Secretaryship of the Navy, and I am perfectly serious about this, though it might seem offhand as a little unusual, I should be very grateful to you if you will drop me a line or give the name to Mr. Slemp. I am searching the industrial world and the commercial world to see if I can find a seasoned executive that can take up the work of the administration of the Navy Department. It is difficult to find a man who meets all the requirements, and I don't expect to find such a man, but I do think I can find one that meets the majority of the requirements, and that is about all we can hope for. As soon as I find a man of that kind, I shall, after appropriate inquiries, submit his name to the Senate. We want a man of course of ability and character, and if I can find a great merchant, or if I can find the head of a great industrial or manufacturing establishment that would meet the requirements that I have in mind, I shall submit his name. There are some engineering problems involved now on account of the oil leases, but they are not predominant; they are somewhat accidental and other talent could be called in to give advice on those. However, it may be that if I could get hold of the right kind of an engineer that it would be helpful under these circumstances.

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I have only had a telegram and a short note from the Attorney General since he left Washington. He sent me a telegram on his arrival in Chicago, saying that he was writing to me and sent me a note telling of his work up there and his expectation that the grand jury would report an indictment, which the grand jury did, and that he was on his way from there to his wife, who is ill in Miami. Those are the only communications I have had from him.

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I have an inquiry here about the McNary-Haugen bill. I am in entire sympathy with the objects of this bill, which is to benefit the wheat raisers. That is a problem on which I have been constantly engaged ever since I landed in Washington last August. It is very pressing, and an important problem. I referred to it in my Message to the Congress, and I referred to that problem in my address in New York. I don't know that I can say anything further than what was presented in those two addresses. I have never been able to make up my mind entirely about the benefits that this bill would secure to the farmers, and for that reason I have had it under investigation by experts. If it will be beneficial to the farmers, I think the country ought to adopt it, even though it might cost something out of the public treasury, though it is claimed that that would not be the case under the provisions of the bill. On the other hand, it is claimed it would simply be a delusion and not of any real benefit. But we have to know that before we undertake to put it into operation. It is a very intricate measure in its provisions. About all I can say about it is that my mind is open about it, as I have told people constantly. I understand that is exactly the position of the Secretary of Agriculture. He and I have discussed the measure and have never been quite certain about it. There are men in his Department that are very certain that this would be a very beneficial bill. If my investigation leads me to that conclusion, I shall favor it. If on the other hand my advice should lead to a different conclusion, and they seem to be conflicting at present, I should not want to favor it. That is the present state of my mind in relation to it.

Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.

Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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