In due time, the good fortune of the United States to have had such a man as Calvin Coolidge in just the years he filled that office will be more clearly realized than it yet has been. –Wall Street Journal, marking the death of President Coolidge, January, 1933
Photo Credit: Library of Congress
Calvin Coolidge was the 30th president of the United States, serving from August 2, 1923 to March 4, 1929.
John Calvin Coolidge was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont on Independence Day, July 4, 1872, to John Coolidge and Victoria Moor Coolidge. Coolidge was always proud of Vermont’s people and the state’s natural beauty, as well as his parents and their simplicity. He was especially proud of his father, whose trades ranged from farmer to storekeeper, tax collector, blacksmith, and state legislator. His grandmother, Sarah Almeda Brewer Coolidge, helped to raise Coolidge after the untimely death of his mother in 1885.
Coolidge attended two high schools, Black River Academy in Ludlow, VT and, briefly, St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, VT. Following high school Coolidge left Vermont, graduating from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts and reading law at the Northampton, Massachusetts firm of Hammond and Field. Around the time he became a lawyer, the future president decided he would be known as Calvin. In 1905, the young lawyer married Grace Anna Goodhue of Burlington, VT, a teacher of the deaf as vivacious as her husband was solemn. Grace Coolidge’s role as companion and helpmate was very important to her husband’s success.
Coolidge entered law and politics in Northampton, and worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor. In 1919, he backed up the police commissioner when the commissioner removed striking Boston policemen. Coolidge’s tough stance on the 1919 Boston Police Strike drew the national spotlight and revealed him as a man of courage and decisive action. “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime,” Coolidge proclaimed.
Soon after, Coolidge was elected vice president of the United States in 1920. Coolidge succeeded to the presidency upon the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding in August 1923. Sworn into office by his father, a notary public, Coolidge restored trust and credibility to the office of the presidency. In 1924, he was elected president in his own right, with his party attracting more votes than the powerful third party, the Progressives, and the Democrats combined.
Under Coolidge, the federal budget was balanced and the national debt reduced. Indeed, when Coolidge left office in 1929, the federal budget was actually lower than when he arrived at the White House 67 months before. “I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy,” Coolidge remarked.
The nation fared so well under Coolidge that people spoke of “Coolidge Prosperity.” The Coolidge decade saw great technological advances, including the transatlantic flight of Charles A. Lindbergh. This was the decade when many Americans’ homes were first electrified and the decade when the automobile became widespread.
President Coolidge left office wildly popular. He famously chose to not run for re-election in 1928, believing “the chances of having wise and faithful public service are increased by a change in the Presidential office after a moderate length of time.” Coolidge campaigned for his successor Herbert Hoover in 1932 and died on January 5, 1933. He is buried alongside his family in Plymouth Notch, VT.