There has been a rush to resurrect Calvin Coolidge as the antithesis of Obama, but one should be a bit careful what one wishes for. Ted V. McAllister's review of Amity Shlaes' Coolidge ("A Rooted Man," August/September) pointed out that there were indeed positive aspects to Coolidge's character and to his beliefs in limited government. However, like many of his era, he was a supporter of the eugenics movement, which played a role in his decision to sign the immigration quota act into law.
He had gone on the record as early as when he served as vice president that "Nordics" needed to be protected from being diluted by a continual influx of those who weren't "Nordics." We should keep in mind that that quota act was a product of the eugenics movement. It was intended to keep the "unwanted" and "unfit" out.
Surely Coolidge knew that.
Ted V. McAllister replies:
Arthur Pitz raises serious questions, along with offering cavalier and sweeping historical assertions, concerning what we might broadly call the racial views of President Coolidge. Some biographers have found him insufficiently helpful on civil rights. Most people who think of him as a racist point to a few articles he wrote as vice president--though I do not think...