Immigration was a huge issue in the period between the world wars. There was much prejudice, especially against immigrants from Southern European and Asian countries. The Immigration Act of 1924 was created to cut the number of immigrants who would be allowed into the United States so that only 150,000 total individuals were allowed each year. The law favored immigrants from Northern Europe over Southern Europeans and Jews. Japanese immigrants were not allowed in at all under this law, negating the Gentleman's Agreement that Theodore Roosevelt had made with Japan.
While the economic situation during Coolidge's time seemed on the surface to be one of prosperity, the foundation was being laid for the Great Depression. Taxes that had been imposed during World War I were cut in 1924 and 1926.
These tax cuts were focused more on helping the rich than the poor. With the increase in the money that individuals had access to, speculation and investment in the stock market increased. This would become very important during President Hoover's administration with the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression.
In 1924, Coolidge tried to veto the Veteran's Bonus that had passed through Congress. This bill provided veterans with insurance that would be redeemable in twenty years. During Hoover's term in office, veterans who had no money and no jobs would march on Washington to demand early payment of these policies.
Calvin Coolidge was noted for his quiet nature. He was given the nickname, “Silent Cal.” One humorous story tells that a lady once approached him and said, “Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.”To this, Coolidge replied: “You lose.”
Farm Relief Bills
In 1927 and 1928, Congress tried to help out farmers who were having economic problems with a series of farm relief bills. These bills would have the government buy crops at a set price and then be responsible for selling the produce. Coolidge did not believe that the government should be involved in setting prices for goods, instead preferring to allow the forces of supply and demand to set prices, and so he vetoed the bill twice. Within the coming years and the period of the Great Depression, farmers would be some of the hardest hit.
The Kellogg-Briand Pact, or the Pact of Paris, was created on August 27, 1928, by U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand. Its point was to assert that war was not a viable method for settling international disputes. Before it was to go into effect on July 24, 1929, fifteen nations had agreed to the pact. Over time more nations agreed to the pact and ultimately sixty-two would sign it.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS…
Calvin Coolidge realized that he would be judged on his everyday words and actions, and he took this responsibility seriously. As he said: “The President has tended to become the champion of the people because he is solely responsible for his acts, while in the Congress where responsibility is divided it has developed that there is much greater danger of arbitrary action.”
The Senate agreed to the pact with the proviso that America reserved the right to defend itself. This treaty is still binding today. Even though the pact did not stop aggression and war completely, it has set the standard that military action against other nations should only be used for self-or collective defense.