Today, most historians regard Coolidge and like-minded presidents — including James Buchanan and Warren Harding — as weak chief executives, ranking them at the bottom of surveys of presidential performance. Americans equate presidential greatness with the skillful wielding of power. Chief executives who presided over government growth after a crisis or the successful prosecution of wars — Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt — hold places of honor in the presidential pantheon.

But for 2012, what the New Hampshire tea party should be looking for in a candidate is a man — or woman — like “Silent Cal.”

Coolidge rolled back taxes, cut federal spending and retired much of the federal government’s debt. He clung to a limited view of the Constitution’s powers and held the liberty of the people to be the guiding star of his presidency.

“I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government,” Coolidge said in 1924, “and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom.”