A Proclimation

Title: A Proclamation – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts by His Excellency Calvin Coolidge, Governor

Date: September 24, 1919

Location: State Executive Chamber, Boston, Massachusetts

Context: As the Governor of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Coolidge issues a proclamation that the Boston police strike will not be tolerated and that he intends to hold those who participated accountable for the anarchy that ensued.  He praises the police that chose to remain on duty and the State Guard and Militia that came to restore peace to Boston as the “real heroes of this crisis.”  He states that no man has the right to put his own interests for convenience or pay above his sworn duty or the security needs of the state.

(Original document available here)


There appears to be a misapprehension as to the position of the police of Boston. In the deliberate intention to intimidate and coerce the Government of this Commonwealth a large body of policemen, urging all others to join them, deserted their posts of duty, letting in the enemy. This act of theirs was voluntary, against the advice of their well wishers, long discussed and premeditated, and with the purpose of obstructing the power of the Government to protect its citizens or even to maintain its own existence. Its success meant anarchy. By this act through the operation of the law they dispossessed themselves. They went out of office. They stand as though they had never been appointed.

Other police remained on duty. They are the real heroes of this crisis. The State Guard responded most efficiently. Thousands have volunteered for the Guard and the Militia. Money has been contributed from every walk of life by the hundreds of thousands for the encouragement and relief of these loyal men. These acts have been spontaneous, significant, and decisive. I propose to support all those who are supporting their own Government with every power which the people have entrusted to me.

There is an obligation, inescapable, no less solemn, to resist all those who do not support the Government. The authority of the Commonwealth cannot be intimidated or coerced. It cannot be compromised. To place the maintenance of the public security in the hands of a body of men who have attempted to destroy it would be to flout the sovereignty of the laws the people have made. It is my duty to resist any such proposal. Those who would counsel it join hands with those whose acts have threatened to destroy the Government. There is no middle ground. Every attempt to prevent the formation of a new police force is a blow at the Government. That way treason lies. No man has a right to place his own ease or convenience or the opportunity of making money above his duty to the State.

This is the cause of all the people. I call on every citizen to stand by me in executing the oath of my office by supporting the authority of the Government and resisting all assaults upon it.


Citation: Calvin Coolidge, Have Faith in Massachusetts: A Collection of Speeches and Messages, 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919

The Coolidge Foundation gratefully acknowledges the volunteer efforts of Kenneth Cameron who prepared this document for digital publication.

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