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Ship Building 1923-29 - Coolidge, Calvin

At 2:30 on the morning of August 3, 1923, while visiting in Vermont, Republican Calvin Coolidge received word that he was President. As President, Coolidge demonstrated his determination to preserve the old moral and economic precepts amid the material prosperity which many Americans were enjoying. He refused to use Federal economic power to check the growing boom or to ameliorate the depressed condition of agriculture and certain industries. His first message to Congress in December 1923 called for isolation in foreign policy, and for tax cuts, economy, and limited aid to farmers.

The political genius of President Coolidge, Walter Lippmann pointed out in 1926, was his talent for effectively doing nothing: "This active inactivity suits the mood and certain of the needs of the country admirably. It suits all the business interests which want to be let alone.... And it suits all those who have become convinced that government in this country has become dangerously complicated and top-heavy...."

While vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he issued the most famous of his laconic statements, "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." By the time the disaster of the Great Depression hit the country, Coolidge was in retirement. Before his death in January 1933, he confided to an old friend, ". . . I feel I no longer fit in with these times."

By the mid-1920s a general feeling of economic uncertainty reinforced isolationist tendencies and encouraged new legislation that placed severe limits on immigration to the United States, particularly from Asia.

Although Curtis D. Wilbur held the highest judicial position in the California Court System and later served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, he achieved his widest renown as Secretary of the Navy in the Administration of Calvin Coolidge. On March 19, 1924, Curtis D. Wilbur was sworn in as Secretary of the Navy after being nominated to the position by President Calvin Coolidge. The first appointee of Coolidge, Wilbur came into the position with a reputation as a man of high intellect and a character of "unimpeachable integrity."

Curtis Wilbur immediately went to work. He worked with Congress for the proper funds to build and maintain an operational Fleet. He also emphasized the importance of naval education, argued for new cruisers, instituted aviation courses at Annapolis, backed the development of the air-cooled engine and repeatedly spoke out on world-wide threats. By the end of his term, Curtis Wilbur had achieved success in enlarging and modernizing the fleet, and had established a naval air force which would grow to become a overwhelming force in World War II.

Five-Year Program (1926 - 1933)

Congress passed an act on 25 June 1926 that authorized a steady expansion of the Navy's air arm to a strength of 1,000 planes and two dirigibles over a five-year period. The Navy's Five-Year Program of 1926 was a close counterpart to the expansion program of the Air Corps that was known as the Five-Year Plan. Both programs were authorized in 1926, both actually received their first appropriations in FY28, and both were intended to be completed by FY33. Moreover, both programs must, in the final analysis, be regarded to some extent as failures. Like the Army's program, the Navy's Five-Year Program was chronically underfunded.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:52:31 ZULU