30th President of the United States
|In office |
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
|Vice President(s) ||None (1923-1925) |
Charles G. Dawes, (1925-1929)
|Preceded by ||Warren G. Harding |
|Succeeded by ||Herbert Hoover |
29th Vice President of the United States
|In office |
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
|President ||Warren G. Harding |
|Preceded by ||Thomas R. Marshall |
|Succeeded by ||Charles G. Dawes |
|Born ||July 4, 1872 |
|Died ||January 5, 1933 |
|Political party ||Republican |
|Spouse ||Grace Goodhue Coolidge |
|Religion ||Congregationalist |
|Signature || |
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923-1929), succeeding to office upon the death of Warren G. Harding.
Early life and career
John Calvin Coolidge Jr. was born in Plymouth, Windsor County, .Vermont on July 4, 1872, the elder of two children of John Calvin and Victoria Moor Coolidge, Sr. (his sister, Abigail Gratia, died at age 14). Coolidge was the only President to be born on the 4th of July. He dropped John from his name upon graduating from college. He attended St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont before entering Amherst College in nearby Massachusetts, where he became a member of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta and graduated cum laude 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, and representative from 1907-1908. In 1905, Coolidge married Grace Anna Goodhue. They were opposites in personality: 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 socks in it, all of them full of holes. 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." They had two sons; John Coolidge, born in 1906, and Calvin Jr., born in 1908. 
Coolidge was elected mayor of Northampton in 1910 and 1911 and 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 from 1916-1918, and Governor from 1919-1920. In 1919, Coolidge gained national attention when he ordered the Massachusetts National Guard to forcefully end the Boston Police Department strike. He later wrote to labor leader Samuel Gompers, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime."  
The 1920 Campaign and the Vice Presidency 1921-1923
In 1920, Governor Coolidge ran for president as a favorite son. Coolidge was nominated for Vice President after some heated arguments on the floor and he decided to accept. He and Harding were elected in the biggest landslide since before the Civil War.
While he was doing his duties, he and his vivacious wife Grace were invited to quite a few parties, where the legend of "Silent Cal" was born. It was from this time most of the jokes and anecdotes at his expense originate.
Vice President Coolidge became President on August 2, 1923.
He 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 at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923; Coolidge was re-sworn by Chief Justice William Howard Taft upon his return to Washington, D.C.
During Coolidge's presidency, the United States experienced the period of rapid economic growth known as the "Roaring Twenties." His economic policy may be summed up in the quote "the business of America is business". He vetoed the proposed McNary-Haugen Farm Relief Bill, designed to allow the Federal Government to purchase agricultural surpluses and dump them abroad at depressed prices.
Although some later commentators have criticized Coolidge as a doctrinaire laissez-faire ideologue, 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."  Other commentators, Austrian Economists included, say that Coolidge's policies were not laissez-faire because inflation rates were heavily increased under his administration which they consider to be a major factor contributing to the Great Depression.
Coolidge, reporters, and cameramen
Coolidge was easily elected President of the United States in his own right in the election of 1924. Coolidge opposed U.S. membership in the League of Nations, but the administration was not isolationist. Its most notable initiative 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., the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan to "renounce war, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another." The treaty of course failed to prevent the coming World War II, but did provide the founding principle for international law after World War II. Also in 1928, Coolidge represented the U.S. at the Pan American Conference in Havana, Cuba, making him the only sitting U.S. President to visit the country. Coolidge maintained the somewhat unpopular U.S. occupation of Nicaragua.
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 Northampton, where he wrote a memoir that revealed little.
Radio and film
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. In August 1924, Coolidge was filmed on the White House lawn by Lee De Forest in DeForest's Phonofilm sound-on-film process, becoming the first President to appear in a sound film. He also went on the radio in an effort to find his lost cat "Tiger".
Major presidential acts
- Signed Immigration Act of 1924
- Signed Revenue Act of 1924
- Signed Indian Citizenship Act of 1924
- Signed Revenue Act of 1926
- Signed Radio Act of 1927
- Signed Revenue Act of 1928
Administration and Cabinet
On June 2, 1924, President Coolidge had signed a bill granting Native Americans full U.S. citizenship. Coolidge is shown above on October 22, 1924 holding a ceremonial hat given to him by the Smoki People, a group of white businessmen who celebrated Native American culture in Prescott, Arizona.
|OFFICE ||NAME ||TERM |
|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 C. 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 Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States:
- Harlan Fiske Stone in 1925
Retirement and death
Coolidge addressing a crowd at Arlington National Cemetery's Roman style amphitheater in 1924.
After the presidency, Coolidge served as chairman of the non-partisan Railroad Commission, as honorary president of the Foundation of 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.  Coolidge received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
Coolidge published an autobiography in 1929 and wrote a syndicated newspaper column, "Calvin Coolidge Says," from 1930-1931. He died suddenly of coronary thrombosis at his home, "The Beeches," at 12:45 p.m. in Northampton on January 5, 1933 at the age of 60. Prior to his death, Coolidge felt disappointed about Hoover's re-election defeat, after which his health began to decline very rapidly. Shortly before his death, Coolidge confided to an old friend: "I feel I am no longer fit in these times."
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. Calvin Coolidge is also memorialized in the Hall of Inscriptions at the Vermont State House at Montpelier, Vermont.
Although Coolidge was known to be a skilled and effective public speaker, in private he was a man of few words and was therefore commonly referred to as "Silent Cal." A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." His famous reply: "You lose."
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."
Another famous anecdote has it that one Sunday, Mrs. Coolidge was too ill to attend church, and Calvin attended the services alone. When he returned, his wife asked him, "Did you go to church?" "Yes," Calvin responded. "Did the minister give a sermon?" his wife continued. "Yes," Calvin answered. "What did he talk about?" Mrs. Coolidge pressed impatiently. "Sin," her husband replied. "Well," demanded the Calvin's wife, as her frustration continued to mount, "what did he say about it?" "He's against it," Calvin concluded.
Prior to his election in 1924, Coolidge's younger son, Calvin, Jr., developed a blister from playing tennis on the White House courts. The blister became infected, and Calvin, Jr. died. After that, Coolidge became even more withdrawn. People who knew the President said he never fully recovered from his son's death. He said that "when he died, the glory of the Presidency went with him."
His withdrawn nature was also the inspiration for the mnemonic, "Cool Cal." It also led to a dart fired by Dorothy Parker, who upon being informed of his death, sardonically asked, "How could they tell?"
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence."
- U.S. presidential election, 1920
- U.S. presidential election, 1924
- Coolidge effect
- White, William Allen. A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge (1938)
- Fuess, Claude M. Calvin Coolidge: The Man from Vermont (1940)
- Silver, Thomas B. Coolidge and the Historians (1983)
- Sobel, Robert Coolidge: An American Enigma (1998)
- Ferrell, Robert H. The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (1998)
- McCoy, Donald Calvin Coolidge: A Biography (2000), the standard scholarly biography
- Russell, Francis. A City in Terror: Calvin Coolidge and the 1919 Boston Police Strike (2005)
- Coolidge, Calvin. The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (1929)
- The Talkative President: The Off-the Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge edited by Howard H. Quint and Robert H. Ferrell (1964)
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.
- ^ Drafthorse Journal - 2001
- ^ American President - Calvin Coolidge
- ^ Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia - Calvin Coolidge
- ^ Coolidge and American Business - Robert Sobel, John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
- ^ Coolidge Family Papers, 1802-1932 - Vermont Historical Society Library
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