Calvin Coolidge is shown at the White House, circa 1925.
PLYMOUTH — The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation is taking a new path in promoting the legacy of the U.S. president from Plymouth.
The foundation established Thursday the Calvin Coolidge Prize for Journalism that honors those who write in the tradition of the 30th U.S. president. The prize will be awarded Nov. 12 in New York City.
Amity Shlaes, the foundation’s chairwoman and author of the book “Coolidge,” said the vision behind the award is not just about recognizing great journalism — it’s about shedding new light on Coolidge himself.
“It’s being offered because Coolidge deserves more recognition,” Shlaes said. “We’ve created a prize for people who write in the spirit of Coolidge and the ideas that Coolidge advanced himself.”
Coolidge’s ties to journalism run deep. In 1930, the year after he stepped down as president, Coolidge wrote for the McClure syndicate and his columns were published in daily newspapers all over the country. They were approximately 300 words long and filed by wire no later than 3 p.m.
The columns were a success, Shlaes said. Coolidge wrote on issues that were new back then, but now are part of today’s national dialogue on government affairs.
Coolidge wrote about the economy, the value of local charity, the value of military restraint and the value of freedom. Other topics he wrote about were fiscal policy, debt, thrift, contracts, independent living, states rights, religion and federalism.
“When you look back, the presidents who made significant contributions in history turn to Abraham Lincoln or George Washington,” Shlaes said. “We’re at a major economic moment in our country and the topics Coolidge talked about then are so much in the news now. He was an intensely economic person.”
The foundation’s top prize, called the Coolidge, will be awarded to the author with the best submission of up to three published articles of fewer than 800 words each. The prize carries an award of $20,000.
A secondary prize, called the Calvin, will honor the writer under the age of 20 living in Vermont who produces a comment, published or unpublished, of 1000 words or less in the spirit of President Coolidge. The Calvin carries with it a scholarship of $1,500, plus expenses to travel to New York City to receive the award.
Diane Kemble, education director of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, said she is excited about the journalism award. Like Shlaes, Kemble says Coolidge was a president ahead of his time.
A journalism award, like Shlaes’ biography, will continue the discussion about southern Vermont’s only president.
“There’s really a lot of depth to (Coolidge),” Kemble said. “He was a great writer himself, he had great integrity and he came back to Vermont. This award is a great opportunity and it will give us new ways to think about Coolidge, as Amity has with her book.”
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