History’s Fickle Judgment

herbert hoover

Why is Herbert Hoover so reviled?

How should history rate Herbert Hoover, the nation’s 31st President? By today’s standards, Hoover was an anomaly. He rose, in Horatio Alger fashion, from being orphaned at age nine to the pinnacle of self-made success in business and finance. Although he was a Quaker, Hoover’s martial adventures in China’s Boxer Rebellion in 1900—at one point leading a detachment of U.S. Marines against Chinese rebels—rival the fictional exploits of Indiana Jones. In an era before ghost writers, Hoover was an accomplished author; his 1922 book, American Individualism, cemented the fame he had earned as a global mining engineer and international humanitarian relief administrator.

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Eloquent Pointers from “Silent” Cal

Coolidge

Ulysses S. Grant and Calvin Coolidge are two U.S. presidents known for their taciturnity. They also happen to be the two who left the best memoirs. Grant’s having been brought out as a Library of America edition is a sign of its status as an acknowledged classic. The same treatment ought to be accorded the Chief Executive known as “Silent Cal.” His Autobiography, published in 1929, has many virtues, as did the man, and one of its greatest is what it says about its author’s education, and education in general.

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Herbert Hoover’s Righteous Crusade Against the New Deal: A Conversation with George Nash

Hoover

Herbert Hoover's legacy is perhaps forever linked with the failure of the American economy under his presidency after the stock market crash of 1929 and his ensuing defeat by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the election of 1932. Further adding to his difficulties is the charge that he was progressive-lite in his policies before and after the Great Depression. The proper foundation, it follows, for advocates of a renewed conservative focus is Calvin Coolidge, a President who cut budgets and taxes. This discussion with Hoover scholar George Nash begs to differ. Nash, who previously appeared on Liberty Law Talk to discuss the…

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The New Deal & Modern American Conservatism

The New Deal

This next Liberty Law Talk is with Gordon Lloyd of the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine on his new book, co-authored with David Davenport, The New Deal & Modern American Conservatism (Hoover Press, 2013). Much has been made, and rightly so, of the example set by Calvin Coolidge in his confrontation with the forces of taxing and spending and nascent regulatory attempts to cartelize certain markets, among other challenges he faced. However, might it be that Herbert Hoover and his "American System" articulated in the 1932 campaign, along with his subsequent attempts to repeal the New Deal, offers the…

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Silent Cal’s 6 Simple Rules for a Confused President Obama

In his new book, Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President, Charles C. Johnson claims that ‘Silent Cal’ wasn’t so much silent as he was silenced. But today, thirty years since Tom Silver’s underrated book about America’s underrated thirtieth president, Coolidge and the Historians, that is changing. In addition to Johnson’s book, we also have Amity Shlaes’s new biography, Coolidge, a prequel of sorts to her bestseller, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Undoubtedly, there is growing interest in Coolidge that, although somewhat delayed, is especially timely for the present. Here are six lessons for President Obama from the not-so-silent Cal Coolidge.

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Coolidge!

Coolidge

Amity Shlaes comes to Liberty Law Talk to discuss her new biography, Coolidge, that explores and analyzes the triumph of Calvin Coolidge. Much like the title of Shlaes' previous bestseller, The Forgotten Man, Coolidge recovers for the reader a president that our country seems to have forgotten. For many, Coolidge had to be left behind. The successes of his fiscal and regulatory policies and the judgments these policies make on America's New Deal and postwar open-ended spending and regulating tendencies are hard to reconcile. There is also the sober rectitude that Coolidge insisted should guide our lives in a modern…

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Friday Roundup: October 26th

The cherry-picking Bruce Bartlett: Not that Law and Liberty is taking sides in the upcoming presidential election but bad analysis is bad analysis. David Henderson at Econ Log debunks Bartlett's takedown of the Romney tax plan in two posts: See here and here. Hadley Arkes at Right Reason asks "Is Religious Liberty a Natural Right?" Victoria Toensing on the Lilly Ledbetter Act: "Mr. Obama brags that the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act bestowed equal-pay rights for women. The act, he has said, "is a big step toward making sure every worker," male and female, "receives equal pay for equal work." No,…

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American Conservatism’s Apogee

The 1990s saw an explosion in books from historians attempting to rehabilitate the legacies of various maligned Presidents, such as David McCullogh’s Pulitzer prize-winning biographies of Harry Truman and John Adams.  But only so many Presidents are worthy of rehabilitation; it quickly reached the point that George Pendle could write a satire of the genre (The Remarkable Millard Fillmore: The Unbelievable Life of a Forgotten President) without it being immediately obvious from the title and subject that it was intended as such.

The 2000s saw a similar explosion of books attempting to rehabilitate presidential campaigns, rather than presidents.  David Pietrusza’s award-winning 1920: The Year of the Six Presidents is perhaps the best example of these books, which seek to pluck Presidential election years from obscurity and explain why they deserve closer historical attention.

Garland S. Tucker’s The High Tide of American Conservatism: Davis, Coolidge, and the 1924 Elections seeks to occupy a middle ground between these various types.

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Calvin Coolidge: A President Born on the Fourth of July

Coming after the first progressive wave of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge’s White House tenure boldly challenged their expansive ideas about executive power specifically and federal power generally.  Coolidge’s presidency was marked by an understanding of the power and limits to the federal government in terms more congenial to those of the Framers. Instructive in this regard are Coolidge’s fiscal and agricultural policies, and his attempts at federal restraint in the face of regional flood disasters that were marked by repeated calls for bold government action.

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