The Life of Calvin Coolidge
The 30th President of the United States
Following the death of President Harding, Calvin Coolidge was informed that he had become the 30th President of the United States in 1923.
Immediately after being given this news, Coolidge was given the oath of office by his father, who was a Justice of the Peace.
Calvin Coolidge was described by his supporters as being, “distinguished for his character more than heroic achievement.
Calvin Coolidge’s Childhood
Born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth, Vermont, to a village shop keeper, Calvin Coolidge graduated with honours from Amherst College. He then moved to Northampton, Massachusetts where he set up a law practice and began to methodically climb the political ladder, eventually becoming state governor.
Coolidge and the Death of President Harding
After he became President, following the death of President Harding, Coolidge became determined to preserve the old moral and economic precepts amid growing economic prosperity. Coolidge refused to use Federal power to control the growing economic boom or to relieve the depressed condition of the agricultural sector of the American economy. In 1923, he called for isolation in American foreign policy. He also pushed for tax cuts and limited aid to farmers.
In the midst of the unprecedented economic boom that characterized the Roaring Twenties, Coolidge became increasingly popular. In the 1924 Presidential election, Coolidge received 54% of the popular vote.
Calvin Coolidge’s Administration
In his inaugural address, Coolidge claimed that the country had achieved “a state of contentment seldom before seen.” He went on to veto two farm relief bills as well as a project to harness the Tennessee River for cheap electrical power.
According to Walter Lippmann, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and one of Coolidge’s chief political advisors, Coolidge was an effective do nothing President. “This active inactivity suited the mood and certain of the country’s needs admirably.”
Coolidge was also known for being one of the most negative and remote Presidents in American history up to that point. However, he could also be one of the most accessible. In addition to welcoming numerous official delegations to the White House, Coolidge also allowed himself to be photographed in a number of costumes such as an Indian war bonnet and even cowboy chaps.
Coolidge was also known for being a very laconic and tight-lipped President. First Lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge often recounted how a young woman at a state banquet claimed that she had bet that she could get three words of conversation out of President Coolidge. Without looking at her Coolidge replied “you lose.”
Coolidge was also an outspoken supporter of civil rights for Catholics and African-Americans. He refused to grant Cabinet positions to anyone with known ties to white supremacist groups. As a result, hate groups such as the KKK saw a significant reduction in numbers and influence during the Coolidge Administration.
In 1928, Coolidge made one of his most famous laconic statements when he said, “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.” In his memoirs, Coolidge defended the decision saying that another term as President would have been beyond him. He was also against the nomination of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who Coolidge claimed had given him nothing but bad and unsolicited advice, ever since he took office.
The Death of Calvin Coolidge
Following the end of his Presidency, Coolidge served as the Chairman for the Railway Commission, the President of the American Antiquarian Society and a trustee for Amherst College. In 1929, Coolidge published his memoirs.
Calvin Coolidge died of a heart attack on January 5, 1933.
Calvin Coolidge.The White House. US Government. Nov.30/09
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- December 1, 2009 / 7:09 pm
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