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TWO MEN WHO HELPED MAKE THE PRESIDENT
THE WHITE HOUSE
you to know
IWO VERY DIVERSE AMERICAN CITIZENS are a favor, or even making a suggestion to the President, for fear receiving most of the credit, leaving aside the President's of being “turned down cold.”
relatives, for what and where Calvin Coolidge is to-day. The other President-maker, Mr. Lucey, of Northampton, He himself lately acknowledged his indebtedness to one of these however, has not hesitated to add a bit of advice to the large men in the frank declaration that “If it were not for you, I should amount which he is credited with having given Mr. Coolidge not be here.” There is a little story, as well as a long friendship, from time to time. In reply to the President's recent friendly behind that announcement, made in a letter to a Northampton letter, reports a staff correspondent of the New York World, shoemaker and philosopher. The name of this President- Mr. Lucey says he told Cal “Just to keep on doing as he has maker is James Lucey, and he still works from twelve to fourteen been doing.” Mr. Lucey says, according to this interviewer,
that he further advised the President: “Don't pay any heed to these criticizers. Don't say nothin' to them at all. Jest keep on doin' like you
made up your mind to, and you will much mew
come out right, as you always have." an
The President is said to have referred to Mr. Lucey as his "guide, counsellor and friend," through a
number of his formative years. The lensure .
little incident that inspired the write
President to announce that, but hot you
for Mr. Lucey, he would not be I wont
where he is now, is recorded by the
New York Times. The two first met, T were not
runs this record, I should
When Coolidge was a student at & V1923
Amherst. Coolidge wanted to have not be here and
a pair of shoes repaired and a fellow
student recommended Lucey. It is I
not difficult to understand how a
friendship soon developed between how much I love
these two men, who both believe in
doing the day's work, whatever that mass
work may be.
“Many young fellows are bright," says Lucey, “but not many of them have wisdom down below their
brightness. Cal had it, and that's A DRAMATIC ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF A GREAT DEBT
what made him stand out, in my
mind, from among the rest." This unusual letter from the President to Mr. Lucey refers not only to much good advice but to a very
Coolidge became a regular visitor specific bit of political assistance that came along just when Mr. Coolidge needed it most.
at the shop. After his graduation, he returned to Northampton, en
tered a law office and politics. Here hours a day in his shoemaking shop. The ovher man who is now was the second tie between the shoemaker and himself. receiving credit, perhaps even more credit, for the fact that Lucey has the Irish gift for politics. “There were already four Mr. Coolidge is now President of the United States, is Frank
or five Vermont fellows trying to get into Northampton politics,
and the local politicians resented it. And here was Cal trying W. Stearns, a Boston banker, financier and philanthropist. Mr.
to hop in, too." Stearns is variously referred to as “the Christopher Columbus
Lucey advised his friend, worked for him. Coolidge got a of Coolidge,” or “the Mark Hanna,” or “the Colonel House,' foothold, began to climb the political ladder. “No, the Repubor “the Harry Daugherty” of the President, by enterprising licans didn't like Cal, but there were Irish Democrats who could journalists, who already look upon him as one of the foremost
be coaxed into voting for him.” And Lucey coaxed. figures in the new Administration. Mark Sullivan, with a record
The crisis in Coolidge's political career came in 1907. He had
held a number of small elective local offices, and was now runas a political expert, emphatically announces, however, that
ning for the Massachusetts House of Representatives. A Mr. Stearns is not a Mark Hanna, nor a Colonel House, nor even popular man was on the Democratic ticket, and the fight was a Daugherty. The curious fact is, says Mr. Sullivan, that the a bitter one. Coolidge won by thirty-six votes. That victory Boston banker, during the years he has devoted himself largely
gave him his opportunity. From then on his climb up the ladder
was steady. Lucey was responsible for securing a good many to "putting Mr. Coolidge across,” has really been “backing his
more than the thirty-six votes that turned the scale. And it is own ideals by proxy.' Mr. Stearns, we are told, feels Mr.
to that service that the President refers when he said in his Coolidge's importance to the nation so strongly that backing letter: “If it were not for you I should not be here." him is nothing less than a form of philanthropy to his fellow citizens. The Boston man, already a familiar figure in Wash- Mr. Lucey, reports this correspondent, is much disturbed by the ington, has become a center of interest to politicians from all fact that many of the numerous newspaper stories, started by the over the country, reports a Washington correspondent of the President's letter to him, have made him out to be an unlettered, New York Tribune, but to their amazement and despair, he grotesque “character." What possible bond of interest, asks announces that he is not in politics, and wouldn't think of asking the Times correspondent, could there have been between this
I want to tell you
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person and the man who is now in the White House? Go to Morton Berg, from Boston to the New York American, "the Northampton, suggests the writer
right to voice the supreme 'I told you so' of our national politics."
Mr. Berg expresses his conviction that: And it is easy enough to solve the riddle. The facts have no strangeness, but a very wholesome human interest. And The name of Frank W. Stearns will soon become as well known in that Massachusetts college town the facts are easy to get, to the American people as the name of Mark Hanna was in the only difficult source of information being Lucey himself, President McKinley's day, or those of Cleveland H. Dodge and The shoemaker (with provocation) is mad as a hornet at news- E. M. House were in Woodrow Wilson's Administration. paper men; and tho, toward the end of a two-hour session with Like Mr. Hanna and Mr. Dodge, the closest friend of Mr. him in his little basement shop, the present writer coaxed him Coolidge is a millionaire, but his wealth is not Mr. Stearns's into a reasonable state of communicativeness, Mr. Lucey con- chief distinction. tinually spoke of correspondents as “you scribblers for the press.' He is the head of R. H. Stearns & Co., one of the largest Boston
There is nothing illiterate or grotesque about Lucey. He department stores, a director of the American Trust Company talks the same English that the average American does, except of Boston, a trustee of the Provident Institution for Savings, that there is a slight brogue, as is right and proper in a man who a trustee of Amherst College, a director of Bunker Hill Boys' was born and raised in County
Club, and of the Boston Kerry.
Children's Hospital, and a diDespite his sixty-six years,
rector, also, in several banks most of them spent on the
and in such purely benevolent shoemaker's bench, he stands
organizations as the South straight, shoulders back. “And
End House, a famous social you scribblers for the press say
settlement, and of the Civil I'm a little, bent cobbler," he
League for Immigrants. declaims. “No more bend in
Mr. Stearns's confidence in me than there was forty-odd
and affection for Calvin Coolyears ago, when I left Ireland.
idge are so controlling that his I may be short, but I weigh
principal object in life in a hundred and sixty pounds."
the last seven years has been Here he slapped his thigh a
to promote Mr. Coolidge in smart blow to demonstrate its
politics. sturdiness. “I'll bet I weigl
Back in 1916 Calvin Coolidge more than the President of the
was Lieutenant-Governor of United States does."
the Bay State. At the RepubLucey is a “character" to
lican National Convention in just this extent: He isn't at all
Chicago that year Frank W. ashamed of his humble calling.
Stearns was on hand-his first On the contrary, he takes pride
appearance at the national - just now it's a fierce, as
convention. sertive pride—in the fact that
Senator Murray Crane was he knows his job and he knows it from the ground
performing gumshoe work in
behalf of a nomination for up. His only shame would be
Charles E. Hughes. The day in doing an ill piece of work.
before the convention was to His pride is fierce, assertive,
open Stearns dropt into Crane's because the "scribblers for the
hotel room for a chat. After press” have called him
Stearns left, Judge Field of cobbler.
Northampton called on Crane, “As I once explained to the
who remarked: head of the department of English of Smith College," says
“Your old friend Frank he, "a cobbler is a bungler, a
Stearns was just in here to
see me.” botcher, a man who doesn't know his business. No, sir,
“I heard Stearns was in James Lucey is no cobbler
Chicago,” said Judge Field. he's a shoemaker. A DEALER IN LEATHER AND PRESIDENTIAL TIMBER
“Uncle Murray" chuckled, “People may leave North
then asked: But for the timely assistance of this man, James Lucey of Northampampton, but they keep on
“Who do you think is his ton, Calvin Coolidge, on his own acknowledgment, would not now sending to James Lucey. He be the President of the United States.
candidate for President." makes shoes and he repairs
“Oh, Hughes I suppose." them. Last week, a man in
“No, sir—E-E”—said the Detroit sent me a pair of shoes to mend. Here's a pair that's political fox of the Berkshires. “Calvin Coolidge." going to Philadelphia. James Lucey knows his business." Having said which, Senator Crane had to laugh heartily.
Also, James Lucey knows the world. Not only has he Judge Field saw the joke, too. They were much amused at the had to wrestle with it at close grips to earn a living for him- political folly of Frank W. Stearns. self and his family, but he has also been something of a local Murray Crane was one of the shrewdest and most farpolitician. Those shrewd blue-gray Irish eyes of his have been seeing men that Republican politics ever produced. But watching men and events for a good many years. He has the his acumen, his almost uncanny foresight in perceiving the courage of his convictions. What he thinks, he says; nor does trend of events and his ability as a picker of candidates was he hesitate to be peppery if he thinks the occasion demands pep- a clouded vision compared to the everlasting and indomitable per, let the pepper fall on whom it may.
faith of Frank W. Stearns that “Cal” Coolidge would some day The last paragraph of President Coolidge's letter to the shoe- occupy the Presidential chair. maker read: “Do not work too much now, and try to enjoy yourself in your well-earned leisure of age.” Says James
Mr. Stearns is sixty-six years old and a graduate of Amherst Lucey: “I've worked fourteen hours a day for the last thirty-odd College, class of 1878. He is of medium height and more than years. I've raised a family of eight. Educated all of them; medium girth. The reporter adds: sent some of them through college. Never been in court except to recommend a man for citizenship. And always paid 100 cents His lips and the lines of his jaw show him a person of deteron the dollar."
mination, while his eyes gleam with the light of a kindly dis
position and sincere nature. Perhaps Mr. Coolidge could make exactly the same state
As two of Mr. Stearns's idiosyncrasies, the following may be ment as he made to Mr. Lucey, “If it were not for you, I would mentioned: He has never taken a drink of any alcoholic bevernot be here,” to a very different type of man. Frank W. Stearns, age in his life, altho prior to Prohibition he offered wine or spirits of Boston, is called by a recent interviewer, "the chief confidant to his guests and had no prejudice against them. He has such of the President, and the prime puzzle of the politicians.” Mr.
a strong prejudice against boys smoking that he told a young
man in whom he was greatly interested that he must never smoke Stearns deliberately set out, some years ago, to make Calvin until he quit college. Mr. Stearns himself never smoked until be Coolidge President of the United States. He has, to-day, writes was fifty years of age. Then he was induced to try tobacco and
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he found it so agreeable that he is seldom seen now without How are the politicians to figure a man who talks like that? a cigar in his mouth.
Here is another paradoxical statement by this man, who was the Washington correspondents who viewed Frank S. Stearns with great Coolidge press agent, first, last and all the time: extreme interest, and politicians who viewed him with anxiety, "I don't even acknowledge that I am in politics." beheld a well-attired man of conservative aspect. But his con- Chorus of despairing politicians: servatism is not that of Coolidge. Stearns may be described "Hearken to the man-he is not in politics—why, he IS polias a quiet mixer, one who can join in readily with a group of tics—he is the man closest to the throne, or sitting on the arm friends or strangers either, when occasion demands.
of the chair. Why, then, has he ever been so pitilessly and perHe has, from both business and public experience, keenest sistently for Calvin Coolidge for President?” realization of the value of advertising and publicity in general. To which Stearns, to use his own words, makes reply: He is what newspaper men call a friendly chap. He likes news- “I think Calvin Coolidge is the type of man the country alpaper men. He picked one of them for his private secretary, ways needs. I regard him as one of the most remarkable men in Benjamin, or more pop
• our time. He wants to ularly known in Boston,
do the right thing in the “Bennie" Felt, a trained
right way. He is the reporter.
highest type of patriotOne reason why Frank
ism and statesmanship I W. Stearns and Calvin
ever have known.” Coolidge are and have
“The first time that been so chummy is be
saw Cal Coolcause Stearns is able to
idge," says Mr. Stearns, adapt himself to the
"he made me mad, hopwell-recognized Coolidge
ping mad. He made me taciturnity. If “Cal"
madder, almost, than any wishes to talk, then
other man I ever met. Stearns is chatty. But
“As a trustee of Amif Mr. Coolidge is silent
herst College I came be-he habitually is—then
fore the Massachusetts Stearns is mum.
Senate in 1913 to see if They tell a story in
I could get passed some Boston about a Bos
picayune bill permitting tonian who rode from
the college to enlarge Washington to Boston
its sewer facilities. Coolon the same train with
idge, then State Senator Coolidge and Stearns.
from Northampton, was It happened that he had
chairman of the coma seat at the next table
mittee. Also, he was an to them in the dining
Amherst alumnus and car. The Bostonian con
he represented the Senagratulated himself as he
torial district in which thought:
Amberst is located. “Now I'll hear some
“You can imagine thing good.”
then what I felt when What he heard was a
that man sat through period of the best and
our plea without saying most complete silence
a word, without moving that two
a facial muscle. When broke. Neither Cool
we were through he not idge nor
only failed to endorse tered a syllable to each
our little bill, he failed other after they had
to say that he was sorry given their respective
that he could not exorders to the waiter.
plain why. Stearns lived, until
“Do you wonder, then, a few years ago, in New
that I spent nearly a ton, a beautiful suburb
year being angry at this of Boston. For con
man Coolidge? venience, he moved to
"It turned out later the Hotel Touraine, in
sewer extenthe heart of Boston.
sion bill had been pre He has a summer home HE WORKED FOR COOLIDGE SEVEN YEARS
sented too late in the in Swampscott, on the
year to be considered famous North Shore. And now, at the end of that time, Frank W. Stearns, of Boston, has the pleasure
at that session. But no Already the prediction of pronouncing one of the most hearty “I told you so's!" in our political history.
matter. I could never is made that this Swamp
forgive him, I felt. scott residence will be
"Well, the surprize of the "Summer White House” of next season. The Coolidge my life came the next session. Coolidge, who had become family have often been summer guests there.
president of the Massachusetts Senate, made it his business at
the earliest possible moment to put through our bill. He did Stearns declares, says the writer, that he is not at all in
it unsolicited. Moreover, he incorporated in the bill valuable politics for what he can get out of it, that all he wishes is to amendments which had not occurred to us the year before. advance Calvin Coolidge because he thinks the country needs “Of course this changed my attitude toward Calvin Coolidge. him.
When Mr. Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts It interested me in the man. First, I sought his acquaintance, countless persons sought favors, as they always do. But not
then his friendship.” Stearns. For, runs the report:
At that point Stearns, says his interviewer, branched into some of "I never asked Coolidge for a favor while he was Governor,”
his practical philosophy, as applied to the needs of the people and Mr. Stearns remarked one time., "I have always been afraid his vision of Calvin Coolidge as future President. He went oa: that he would refuse me. I know people laugh, especially the politicians, when I tell them that. But it's God's truth, just “All the rest of the situation I should designate simply as the the same."
application of instinct working hand in hand with one of my lifeStearns declares that he has never been asked by Coolidge for long principles. This principle is a personal faith of which I advice concerning official appointment or distribution of any have been a sort of lay preacher among my friends. patronage.
“Instinct, as it happens, has prompted me so often in my ad"Never was consulted about such things-never want to be," vertising and in my business that I attribute to it a large share says the man who is regarded as the “Colonel House" of the of such success as I have realized. new Administration.
“Instinct in this case told me almost from the very beginning