One hundred years ago, the United States faced an ugly reality that anticipated ours in 2020. The aftermath of World War I included economic depression and turmoil. A flu epidemic added to the chaos and struck down hundreds of thousands of Americans in the space of a few months.
Wages for working men had remained stagnant during wartime, but the removal of wartime controls meant prices of regular goods and services were skyrocketing. The popularity of communism and anarchism appeared to be growing. Riots and strikes in major American cities—from Boston to Seattle—were described with horror in the daily newspapers.
In such a moment, Calvin Coolidge’s firm opposition to lawlessness as governor of Massachusetts made him famous. Voters rewarded his resiliency during the Boston Police Strike of 1919, along with his combination of courage and integrity. In two years, he was vice president. Two years later, he was president.
The parallels between his time and our own are instructive.