Calvin Coolidge photo

Excerpts of the President's News Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota

July 29, 1927

I doubt if I can continue horseback riding after I get back to the capital, and I don't know what I shall do about taking the horse that was presented to me back with me. I enjoy horseback riding, but when I am in Washington it takes too much time to get my boots on and off, change my clothes, and then my horseback riding experience was all in the country, about what it is around the Lodge. What we have in Washington I didn't find very satisfactory with the necessity of crossing a road every little while and looking out for automobiles.

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If the conference will return at 12:00 I may have a further statement to make.

It is rather difficult for me to pick out one thing above another to designate what is called here the chief accomplishments of the four years of my administration. The country has been at peace during that time. It hasn't had any marked commercial or financial depression. Some parts of it naturally have been better off than other parts, some people better off than other people, but on the whole it has been a time of a fair degree of prosperity. Wages have been slightly increasing. There has been no time that there has been any marked lack of employment. There have been certain industries like the textile industry and the boot and shoe industry in certain localities like New England, which have not been running on full time. But generally speaking there has been employment for every one who wished employment. There has been a very marked time of peace in the industrial world. There have been some strikes. When I first came into office there was a strike in the hard coal fields and another strike I think in the same line a couple or three years later, but those differences have been adjusted without any great conflict or any great suffering on the part of the industries or the public, so that there has been rather a time of marked peace in industry as between employer and employees. There has been considerable legislation which you know about, and which I do not need to recount. There have been great accomplishments in the finances of the National Government, a large reduction in the national debt, considerable reductions in taxes.

MR. MICHAELS: Do you know the amount of the reduction in the national debt? About $4,000,000,000?

PRESIDENT: Well, it is close to that. It runs about $1,000,000,000 a year, some years less, between three or four.

* * * * * * *

I think the press has all the information that has come to me relative to the Naval Conference at Geneva. The proposals that have been made by the representatives of Great Britain seem to us to call for the building of a much larger navy than we think is necessary, so that we haven't been able to agree. Now, whether those proposals may be modified as the result of conference and discussion, I don't know. The proposals that have been presented, as I understand them, call for the building of a larger navy than we should wish to agree to. I think that is the main obstacle. There are some other collateral questions about the tonnage of ships and the caliber of the guns, but I think the main difference is in the size of the navy. We called this conference, thinking that it might result in placing a limitation on armaments which would perhaps help the countries interested to reduce some as years went by the size of their navies, which would result in making economies, and secondly, what I thought was of even more importance, the promotion of a spirit of peace and good will and better understanding. I have placed that, of course, as the main object in view. The matter of the removal of the burden of taxation and the economic benefits would be the natural consequences of peace and good will among the nations. But up to the present time the expressed desire on the part of representatives of the British Government is for so large a navy that our representatives and our Government haven't been able to agree. As I said before, I want to emphasize that discussion may modify it to such an extent that we can agree.

MR. MICHAELS: Would you care to go beyond that point, in case we don't agree?

PRESIDENT: Well, in case we don't agree we are right where we are now.

MR. MICHAELS: Well, I mean as to what we will do with our Navy in the way of building?

PRESIDENT: Right where we are now. We have no agreement now and will be in the same position we are in now.

MR. MICHAELS: I meant as to a navy program. Do you think we ought to build as to where Great Britain is?

PRESIDENT: Well, that is a matter to be taken up in the future and on which at the present time I would express absolutely no opinion. And when you have questions, Mr. Michaels, you ought to submit them in accordance with the custom of the conference.

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There haven't been any developments so far as I am aware about the invitation that was presented to me by President [Gerardo] Machado [of Cuba] to attend the Pan American Conference which is to be held in Havana next winter. I told him I would take it under consideration and expressed the hope that I might be able to attend. Of course, it involves some question about the President going out of the country and so on, which it might be necessary to give some thought to and which, when it is investigated, may not prove to be very serious.

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 in Rapid City, South Dakota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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