Calvin Coolidge photo

Excerpts of the President's News Conference

March 14, 1924

I can't give any statement regarding the selection of Chief Justice Wilbur as Secretary of the Navy, other than what the press already has. The suggestion came that he would make a good Secretary of the Navy from a newspaper source. That is a very good recommendation always, as you would probably be willing to admit, and after careful investigation it seemed that he was qualified by his experience and training, his character and ability, to undertake that work.

* * * * * * *

The administration hasn't any new attitude about the loans of private American financial interests to foreign governments. Technically, I suppose that in time of peace in a way any American has a right to lend his money wherever he thinks it will secure him the largest return, taking everything into consideration. I think large loans are not usually made to foreign governments by private interests unless it is known that the United States Government has no objection. Not that the Government takes any responsibility about it, but simply that it indicates it has no objection to it. This recent loan that was made came to my attention first through press information. Very likely there was inquiry made at the State Department about it, though about that I have no information.

As I understand the attitude of the American Government about things of that kind, loans to foreign governments, it goes right along that line. It recognizes the privilege of American financial interests to place their money where they think it will be of the greatest service to those to whom the money belongs. Sometimes it is necessary to take a rather broad view, to consider not merely the immediate financial return, but the general result. That is especially true under present conditions, when large sums of money are owed to us by European countries, so that on that account we have what we might say is a direct financial interest in the economic reconstruction of Europe and in those countries becoming financially able to repay us. We are collecting very large sums from Great Britain and naturally would not want anything to occur that might jeopardize those payments, and we should be glad to have any reasonable action taken that might put other countries in Europe in a financial condition to consider repayment to us of money due us. That has relation merely to our debt. I don't want to bring that up at this time as indicating a determination to press it or anything of that kind. I simply speak of it as a present condition. Then of course there are always the trade relations. I think it has been for many years the policy of the British financial interests to make investments abroad for the purpose of the commercial advantage of the people of Great Britain. Sometimes that takes one form and sometimes another, but as those investments are made abroad they result in credits there and financial obligations which it is supposed have been a very dominant influence in increasing the trade of Great Britain. So that our country would be glad to have surplus capital of our nation invested in that way. Then of course we always have to look at our domestic conditions. There are times when credit in this country is scarce and money is high and dear, and when there are conditions of that kind our Government would probably not want to encourage the investment of money abroad. They would rather have it retained at home where, in taking a general and broad view, it would be of more advantage to the American people. Now all of this comes down to one thing. It ought to be the attitude of the American Government so to encourage the use of American capital as best to administer to the welfare of the American people. Sometimes that is done by suggesting that we make no investments abroad. At other times it would be done by encouraging investments abroad. I suppose that the recent loan took all of those conditions into consideration. No doubt they thought it would be best for the welfare of the nation and for the welfare of those who hold the money to make, or to stand ready to make, a large investment abroad for the purpose of protecting American interests. Of course there is a little broader view than that to take—of assistance to those that are in distress. That is a duty that always falls on us, as well as merely taking care of our own material needs. It is a real duty, one that we can't escape, and one that we always have to consider in determining questions of this kind.

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

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives