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Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge


Order: 30th President
Term of Office: August 3, 1923 - March 3, 1929
Predecessor: Warren G. Harding
Successor: Herbert Hoover
Date of Birth Thursday, July 4, 1872
Place of Birth: Plymouth, Vermont
Date of Death: Tuesday, January 5, 1933
Place of Death: Northampton, Massachusetts
First Lady: Grace Coolidge
Profession: Attorney, Statesman
Political Party: Republican
Vice President: Charles G. Dawes

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872January 5, 1933) was the twenty-ninth (1921-1923) Vice President and the thirtieth (1923-1929) President of the United States, succeeding to that office upon the death of Warren G. Harding.



He was born in Plymouth, Windsor County, Vermont on July 4, 1872 to John Calvin Coolidge, Sr. and Victoria Moor. He dropped John from his name upon graduating from college. He attended Amherst College, Massachusetts, graduating in 1895. He practiced law in Northampton, Massachusetts, and was a member of the city council in 1899, city solicitor from 1900-1902, clerk of courts in 1904, representatives 1907-1908. In 1905, Coolidge married Grace Anna Goodhue. They were complete opposites personality-wise. She was talkative and fun-loving and Coolidge was quiet and serious. Not long after their marriage Coolidge handed her a bag with 52 pairs of holey socks. Grace's reply was "Did you marry me to darn your socks?" Without cracking a smile and with his usual seriousness, Calvin answered, "No, but I find it mighty handy."[1]

Coolidge was elected mayor of Northampton in 1910 and 1911, was a member of the State senate 1912-1915, serving as president of that body in 1914 and 1915. He was lieutenant governor of the state 1916-1918, and Governor 1919-1920. He was known nationally when the Boston police went on strike. He said, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime."[2][3]

Ronald Reagan said that Calvin Coolidge was his favorite 20th Century president.


Coolidge sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1920. He lost to Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding. Party leaders wanted to nominate Wisconsin Senator Irvine Lenroot for vice president. However, convention delegates stampeded and nominated Coolidge. The Harding-Coolidge ticket won handily against Ohio Governor James M. Cox and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Harding was inaugurated on March 4, 1921, and served until August 3, 1923. Upon Harding's death, Coolidge became President on August 3, 1923. Coolidge was visiting at the family home, still without electricity or telephone, when he got word of Harding's death. His father, a notary public, administered the oath of office in the family's parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp; Coolidge was resworn by a federal official upon his return to Washington.

Before his election in 1924, Coolidge's younger son, Calvin, Jr., contracted a blister from playing tennis on the White House courts. The blister became infected, and Calvin, Jr. died. After that, Coolidge, a man of few words, who had already earned the nickname "Silent Cal," became more withdrawn.

It is said that a White House dinner guest once made a bet with her friends that she could get the president to say at least three words during the course of the meal. Upon telling Coolidge of her wager, he replied simply with the words "You lose."[4] However another one of Coolidge's dinner guests had this to say "I cannot help feeling that persons who complained about his silence as a dinner partner never really tried to get beyond trivialities to which he did not think it worth while to respond."

Even though Coolidge was said to be somewhat tight-lipped, he delivered more speeches than any other president up till that time. Making use of the new medium of radio, he delivered an address about once a month. He also managed to hold 520 press conferences, averaging 7.8 per month, somewhat higher than Franklin Roosevelt who averaged about 6.9. [5] Coolidge's press conferences, however, reflected his reticent personality with a vengeance. Louis Lyons, a Washington newsman in the 1920s and later an official of Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, recalled that Coolidge required all questions to be submitted in advance, written on slips of paper. When reporters were admitted to his office, he would go through the slips, discarding any he had no desire to address. Occasionally, he would flip through the entire stack and announce, "I have no questions today." The reporters were not allowed to quote him directly, or even to attribute his remarks to "a White House spokesman." It was nothing like today's open, sometimes disputatious press conferences. [6]

He was easily elected President of the United States in his own right in 1924. Coolidge made use of the new medium of radio and made radio history several times while president: his inauguration was the first presidential inauguration broadcast on radio, on February 12, 1924 he became the first President of the United States to deliver a political speech on radio and on February 22 he also became the first to deliver such a speech from the White House.

Coolidge was the last President of the United States who did not attempt to intervene in free markets, letting business cycles run their course. During his Presidency, the United States experienced a wildly successful period of economic growth: the so-called "Roaring Twenties." Coolidge not only lowered taxes, but also reduced the national debt.

Although some later commentators have dismissed Coolidge as a doctrinaire, laissez-faire idealogue, historian Robert Sobel offers some context based on Coolidge's sense of federalism: "As Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. Did he support these measures while president? No, because in the 1920s, such matters were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments." [[7]]

Coolidge, reporters, and cameramen
Coolidge, reporters, and cameramen

A notable foreign-affairs initiative of the Coolidge administration was the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, named for Coolidge's Secretary of State, Frank Kellogg, and for French foreign minister Aristide Briand. The treaty, ratified in 1929, committed signatories including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan to "renounce [war], as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another." [[8]]

Coolidge did not seek renomination; he announced his decision with typical terseness: "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." After leaving office, he and wife Grace returned to Northanpton, Mass., where his political career had begun.

In his post-White House years, Coolidge served as chairman of the non-partisan Railroad Commission, as honorary president of the Foundation of the Blind, as director of New York Life Insurance Company, as president of the American Antiquarian Society, and as trustee of Amherst College. [[9]]

He published an autobiography in 1929 and wrote a syndicated newspaper column, "Calvin Coolidge Says," in 1930-31. He died suddenly at his home, "The Beeches," in Northampton, Massachusetts, January 5, 1933.

Coolidge is buried beneath a simple headstone in Notch Cemetery, Plymouth Notch, Vermont, where the family homestead is maintained as a museum. The State of Vermont dedicated a new historic-site visitors' center nearby to mark Coolidge's 100th birthday on July 4, 1972. [[10]]

An academic conference on Coolidge was held July 30-31, 1998, at the John F. Kennedy Library to mark the 75th anniversary of his lantern-light homestead inaugural. [[11]]


President Calvin Coolidge 1923–1929
Vice President None 1923–1925
  Charles G. Dawes 1925–1929
Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes 1923–1925
  Frank B. Kellogg 1925–1929
Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon 1923–1929
Secretary of War John W. Weeks 1923–1925
  Dwight F. Davis 1925–1929
Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty 1923–1924
  Harlan F. Stone 1924–1925
  John G. Sargent 1925–1929
Postmaster General Harry S. New 1923–1929
Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby 1923–1924
  Curtis D. Wilbur 1924–1929
Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work 1923–1928
  Roy O. West 1928–1929
Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace 1923–1924
  Howard M. Gore 1924–1925
  William M. Jardine 1925–1929
Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover 1923–1928
  William F. Whiting 1928–1929
Secretary of Labor James J. Davis 1923–1929

Supreme Court appointments

Coolidge appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Major presidential acts


  • "Collecting more taxes than absolutely necessary is legalized robbery."
  • "I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm."
  • "Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country."
  • "Education will not (take the place of persistance); 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."
  • "The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten."
  • "We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. If the foundation be firm, the foundation will stand."

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|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Charles W. Fairbanks | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Republican Party Vice Presidential candidate
1920 (won) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Charles G. Dawes

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Thomas Marshall | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1921August 2, 1923(a) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Charles Dawes

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Warren G. Harding | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |President of the United States
August 3, 1923(b)March 3, 1929 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Herbert Hoover

|- style="text-align: center;" | width="30%" |Preceded by:
Warren G. Harding | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |Republican Party Presidential candidate
1924 (won) | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
Herbert Hoover

|- style="text-align:left; border-left:hidden; border-right:hidden; border-bottom:hidden;" | colspan="3"| (b) Coolidge took the oath of office on August 3.

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