Someone emailed me about yesterday's blog. She was not familiar with Coolidge's quotation on persistence. So you'll find it below, but, first, I want to tell you something about our 30th President of the United States, John Calvin Coolidge who was born in 1872 and died in 1933.

Coolidge was a Vermont lawyer who as President earned the nickname Silent Cal because he sat through most meetings without making a comment. In a way, he was the most distant of Presidents but also was the most accessible in making himself available to the various delegations that visited the White House. After the corruption of the Harding presidency, he was credited with returning integrity to the White House.

Coolidge served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1919 to 1921 when he became Vice President of the United States under Warren G. Harding. In 1923, when Harding died, Coolidge who was visiting his father was sworn in by the senior Coolidge, a notary public, as President. In 1924, he was elected in his own right and served until Herbert Hoover took office in 1929.

Coolidge knew something about persistence. His young son Calvin Jr. died while during the Presidential campaign of 1924. President Coolidge said: "...the glory left the presidency after his son's death." Bereaved, he pressed on, fulfilling his responsibilities.

Many condemned him and his presidency as being one of the architects of the Great Depression that hit the country with the stock market crash of 1929, but history has lent a kinder interpretation of his part in those events. Democrat Alfred E. Smith said about Coolidge: "(He was)...distinguished for character more than for heroic achievement."

Though I spent two hours in Internet research prior to writing this, I could not find the occasion upon which he uttered his most memorable advice about persistence. It's times like this that I miss being able to pop into the reference section of a library. There are still some things you can find easily in a good library than you can on the Internet.

I can only conclude that his words on persistence went unremarked at the time. Perhaps they were spoken on an occasion not deemed important. Maybe they were only part of a conversation between him and another person.

The persistence quotation was spoken at Coolidge's memorial service, and from that event they were immortalized by the Oxford Book of Quotations which attributed them to Coolidge.

How odd that the source of the words that have meant so much to so many cannot be found. Or at least easily found by a writer determined to know.

Coolidge was an honest man who dealt honestly with his responsibilities and with the people in his life. In today's world, that's becoming more of a rarity with each passing decaded. I suppose you could say, though life was difficult for Coolidge, he lived his life according to the words that have somehow become his memorial:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."


  1. I use this quote most all the time in my tag line and I use the abbreviated version "Persistence Pays Off" for my marketing of

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  3. Thanks for the brief bio of President Coolidge. The only thing I knew about him was this quotation. Now, I'm a little more informed about this important gentleman.

  4. Thanks for this. I'm going to point people to this helpful background on Coolidge which you have assembled when I use his quote on Persistence.

  5. I'm engaged in further research on Coolidge's "Persistence" quote and can say that it is a post-presidential quotation. In retirement, he was offered many jobs at high salaries and turned them all down; he knew they only wanted him because he had served as president and he refused to exploit the office. He finally accepted a position on the board of directors for New York Life at a token salary plus "expenses". He wrote "Persistence" as an inspirational message for NYL agents in 1930.
    Just now, I'm looking into the circumstances that surrounded the drafting of that message.

  6. The "Persistence" quote was written in 1932 and not 1930 as I just wrote . . .

  7. Jim Cooke ... Good luck with your research!

    I think Coolidge's quotation has resonance for everyone who reads it.

    Of course, I like quotations that inspire. I included Persistence in WRITTEN WISDOM: Quotation-Inspired Essays, my ebook I published last month.

    WRITTEN WISDOM is a compilation of the best of that category from SlingWords from 2005-2010.

    Best wishes,
    Joan Reeves

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