Presidents: Calvin Coolidge

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Calvin Coolidge became president upon the death of Warren G. Harding. Coolidge was a man of few words and often referred to as “Silent Cal”.

Calvin Coolidge

John Calvin Coolidge Jr. was born on July 4, 1872, the only president to be born on Independence Day. He was the oldest of two children to John Calvin and Victoria Josephine Moor Coolidge, Sr. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was twelve years old.

Coolidge attended Black River Academy and then Amherst College, where he distinguished himself in the debating class, as a senior joined the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta and graduated cum laude.

Coolidge apprenticed at a local law firm and was admitted to the bar in 1897. The following year he opened his own law firm.

In 1898, he won election to the City Council of Northampton and became involved in the Republican party. “In 1904, Coolidge suffered his sole defeat at the ballot box, losing an election to the Northampton school board. When told that some of his neighbors voted against him because he had no children in the schools he would govern, Coolidge replied, “Might give me time!””

In 1905, he met Grace Anna Goodhue. The two married on October 4, 1905. They had two sons, John and Calvin Jr.

Coolidge was known for his frugality and as a man of few words.

In 1906, he won a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1910, he became major of Northampton. In 1912, he became State Senator. In 1914, he was “reelected unanimously to be President of the Senate.”

Calvin Coolidge

In 1915, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and in 1918, he won the election as Governor of Massachusetts. “His response to the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a reputation as a man of decisive action.”

In 1920, he was nominated as the running mate to presidential nominee Warren G. Harding. The team won the election.

President Harding invited Coolidge to attend cabinet meetings, making him the first vice president to do so.

During his time as Vice President, Colidge became known as Silent Cal. “Although Coolidge was known to be a skilled and effective public speaker, in private he was a man of few words and was commonly referred to as “Silent Cal”. A possibly apocryphal story has it a matron, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “I made a bet today that I could get more than two words out of you.” He replied, “You lose.””

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a leading Republican wit, underscored Coolidge’s silence and his dour personality: “When he wished he were elsewhere, he pursed his lips, folded his arms, and said nothing.

Calvin Coolidge

As president, Coolidge’s reputation as a quiet man continued. “The words of a President have an enormous weight,” he would later write, “and ought not to be used indiscriminately.”

On August 2, 1923, President Harding unexpectedly died. Coolidge was at his family home in Vermont. He received word by messenger, as they had no electricity or phone.

His father, a notary public, administered the oath of office in the family’s parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923; President Coolidge then went back to bed. He returned to Washington the next day, and was sworn in again to make sure there was no question about the authority of a notary public administering the presidential oath.

Coolidge initially retained all of Harding’s cabinet appointees. When the Teapot Dome Scandal broke later that year, he waited for the Senate investigations to take place, wanting to provide every presumption of innocence. He did clean house as necessary in the affair.

Calvin Coolidge

On December 6, 1923, he addressed Congress, which became the first presidential speech broadcast over the radio.

In June 1924, he won the nomination of the Republican Convention. Tragedy soon followed when his youngest son, Calvin Jr, who was also his favorite son, had a blister that grew into blood poisoning. He died on July 6, 1924.

Coolidge won the 1924 election. During his presidency the ” United States experienced a period of rapid economic growth known as the “Roaring Twenties.”

While on vacation, Coolidge surprisingly issued a terse statement that he would not seek a second full term as president: “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.” After allowing the reporters to take that in, Coolidge elaborated. “If I take another term, I will be in the White House till 1933 … Ten years in Washington is longer than any other man has had it—too long!” Even his wife did not known he was not seeking re-election until he announced it.

In his autobiography, Coolidge wrote of his son’s death “When he went, the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him.” This in itself may be one reason he decided not to seek re-election.

Coolidge was reluctant to endore Herbert Hoover as the Republican nominee, but had no desire to split the party nomination. He said of Hoover “for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad.”

Calvin Coolidge

Upon leaving the presidency, Coolidge retired to a rented house before returning to The Beeches, their home in Northampton. He often enjoyed boating. In 1929 he published his autobiography and wrote a syndicated newspaper column “Calvin Coolidge Says” from 1930 to 1931.

During this period, he also served as chairman of the non-partisan Railroad Commission, as honorary president of the American Foundation for the Blind, as a director of New York Life Insurance Company, as president of the American Antiquarian Society, and as a trustee of Amherst College.

His party longed for him to run for president again in 1932, but he refused.

Calvin Coolidge died at The Beeches on January 5, 1933. Shortly before his death, Coolidge confided to an old friend: “I feel I no longer fit in with these times.” He is buried at the Plymouth Notch Cemetery, Plymouth Notch, Vermont.

His beloved grace outlived him by 24 years and was buried beside him.

Calvin Coolidge

Coolidge was the only president to have his portrait on a coin during his lifetime, the Sesquicentennial of American Independence Half Dollar, minted in 1926.

Coolidge made use of the new medium of radio and made radio history several times while president. He made himself available to reporters and met with them more regularly than any other president, his 2nd inauguration was the first presidential inauguration broadcast on radio, he was the first president to address Congress while broadcast on the radio, he signed the Radio Act of 1927 regulating the new creation, and used the Phonofilm sound-on-film process several times, making him the first president to appear on sound film.

As a Coolidge biographer wrote, “He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength.”

President Coolidge was cited as President Ronald Reagan’s favorite 20th Century President. He remains strong among most political conservatives.

 

30th President of the United States
(August 3, 1923 to March 3, 1929)Nickname: “Silent Cal”

Born: July 4, 1872, in Plymouth, Vermont
Died: January 5, 1933, in Northampton, Massachusetts

Father: John Calvin Coolidge
Mother: Victoria Josephine Moor Coolidge
Married: Grace Anna Goodhue (1879-1957), on October 4, 1905
Children: John Coolidge (1906-2000); Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (1908-24)

Religion: Congregationalist
Education: Graduated from Amherst College (1895)
Occupation: Lawyer
Political Party: Republican


 

  • Northampton, MA City Councilman, 1899
  • City Solicitor, 1900-01
  • Clerk of Courts, 1904
  • Member of Massachusetts Legislature, 1907-08
  • Mayor of Northampton, MA, 1910-11
  • Member of Massachusetts Legislature, 1912-15
  • Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, 1916-18
  • Governor of Massachusetts, 1919-20
  • Vice President, 1921-23

Presidential Salary: $75,000/year

1923 His inauguration as 30th President of the United States following the untimely death of his predecessor President Warren Harding
1924 The Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926 reduced inheritance and personal income taxes after years of very high wartime tax rates
1924 The Immigration Act of 1924, aka the Johnson-Reid Act, ended further immigration from Japan and restricted the number of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe.
1925 The first diesel locomotive began operating in New York City
1926 May: The Air Commerce Act is passed giving the Commerce Department regulatory powers over sectors of the aviation industry, such as the licensing of pilots and airplanes.
1927 Charles Lindbergh made the first non-stop transatlantic flight across the Atlantic from New York City to Paris
1927 The First talking motion picture, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, was produced
1927 A Radio telephone system connected New York City and London
1928 Calvin Coolidge surprised the nation by stating he did not want to run for President in 1928
1928 The US recognizes Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government of China and signs a tariff treaty with the Chinese.
1929 His presidency and term in office ends.

1872 Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont

1896 Gold discovered in the Yukon’s Klondike

1898 Spanish-American War

1899 – 1904 Calvin Coolidge became Northampton, MA City Councilman, 1899, City Solicitor, 1900-01 and Clerk of Courts, 1904

1904 Panama Canal Zone acquired

1905 Calvin Coolidge was married to Grace Anna Goodhue on October 4, 1905. They had 2 Children

1907-08 Calvin Coolidge became Member of Massachusetts Legislature, 1907-08

1908 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established

1910-11 Calvin Coolidge became Mayor of Northampton, MA, 1910-11

1912-15 Calvin Coolidge became Member of Massachusetts Legislature, 1912-15

1916-18 Calvin Coolidge became Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, 1916-18

1917 US enters World War I

1919 Treaty of Versailles

1919-20 Calvin Coolidge became Governor of Massachusetts, 1919-20

1921-23 Calvin Coolidge became Vice President, 1921-23 (under Harding)

1923 1923 Calvin Coolidge became the President of the United States of America

1924 Indian Reorganization Act
Immigration Act of 1924
Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926

1927 Indian Reorganization Act
Charles Lindbergh makes first trans-Atlantic flight
The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson is the first “talkie” to be released

1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) renouncing war as a solution to resolving international differences

1929 Great Depression begins

1929 1929 The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge ended

1932 Amelia Earhart flies across Atlantic Ocean

1933 Calvin Coolidge died of heart failure on January 5, 1933 at The Beeches, in Northampton. He was buried at Plymouth Notch, Vermont.