JOHN CALVIN COOLIDGE JR. (/ˈkuːlɪdʒ/ ; July 4, 1872 – January
5, 1933) was the 30th
President of the United States
Coolidge restored public confidence in the
Although his reputation underwent a renaissance during the Reagan administration , modern assessments of Coolidge\'s presidency are divided. He is adulated among advocates of smaller government and laissez-faire ; supporters of an active central government generally view him less favorably, while both sides praise his stalwart support of racial equality.
* 1 Birth and family history
* 2 Early career and marriage
* 2.1 Education and law practice * 2.2 Marriage and family
* 3 Local political office
* 3.1 City offices * 3.2 State legislator and mayor
* 4 Lieutenant Governor and Governor of
* 4.1 1918 election * 4.2 Boston Police Strike * 4.3 1919 election * 4.4 Legislation and vetoes as governor
* 5 Vice presidency
* 5.1 1920 election * 5.2 "Silent Cal"
* 6 Presidency
* 6.1 1924 election * 6.2 Industry and trade * 6.3 Taxation and government spending * 6.4 Opposition to farm subsidies * 6.5 Flood control * 6.6 Minorities * 6.7 Foreign policy * 6.8 1928 election * 6.9 Cabinet * 6.10 Judicial appointments
* 7 Retirement and death * 8 Radio, film, and commemorations * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References * 12 Works cited * 13 Further reading * 14 External links
BIRTH AND FAMILY HISTORY
Coolidge as an
Coolidge's family had deep roots in
EARLY CAREER AND MARRIAGE
Prof. Charles Edward Garman
EDUCATION AND LAW PRACTICE
Black River Academy and then St. Johnsbury Academy
, before enrolling at
Coolidge explained Garman's ethics forty years later,
there is a standard of righteousness that might does not make right, that the end does not justify the means, and that expediency as a working principle is bound to fail. The only hope of perfecting human relationships is in accordance with the law of service under which men are not so solicitous about what they shall get as they are about what they shall give. Yet people are entitled to the rewards of their industry. What they earn is theirs, no matter how small or how great. But the possession of property carries the obligation to use it in a larger service...
At his father's urging after graduation, Coolidge moved to
Northampton, Massachusetts to become a lawyer. To avoid the cost of
law school , Coolidge followed the common practice of apprenticing
with a local law firm, Hammond ">
In 1903, Coolidge met Grace Anna Goodhue , a University of Vermont graduate and teacher at Northampton's Clarke School for the Deaf . They married on October 4, 1905 at 2:30 p.m. in a small ceremony which took place in the parlor of Grace's family's house, following a vain effort at postponement by Grace's mother; she was never enamored with Coolidge, nor he with her. The newlyweds went on a honeymoon trip to Montreal, originally planned for two weeks but cut short by a week at Coolidge's request. After 25 years he wrote of Grace, "for almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities and I have rejoiced in her graces".
The Coolidges had two sons: John (September 7, 1906 – May 31, 2000)
and Calvin Jr. (April 13, 1908 – July 7, 1924). Calvin's death at
age 16 from blood poisoning brought on by an infected blister "hurt
him terribly," according to son John. John became a railroad
executive, helped to start the Coolidge Foundation, and was
instrumental in creating the President
LOCAL POLITICAL OFFICE
The Republican Party was dominant in
STATE LEGISLATOR AND MAYOR
In 1906, the local Republican committee nominated Coolidge for
election to the state House of Representatives . He won a close
victory over the incumbent Democrat , and reported to
Instead of vying for another term in the State House , Coolidge returned home to his growing family and ran for mayor of Northampton when the incumbent Democrat retired. He was well liked in the town, and defeated his challenger by a vote of 1,597 to 1,409. During his first term (1910 to 1911), he increased teachers' salaries and retired some of the city's debt while still managing to effect a slight tax decrease. He was renominated in 1911, and defeated the same opponent by a slightly larger margin.
In 1911, the State Senator for the Hampshire County area retired and
successfully encouraged Coolidge to run for his seat for the 1912
session; Coolidge defeated his Democratic opponent by a large margin.
At the start of that term, he became chairman of a committee to
arbitrate the "
Bread and Roses " strike by the workers of the American
Woolen Company in Lawrence,
Do the day's work. If it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it. If it be to help a powerful corporation better to serve the people, whatever the opposition, do that. Expect to be called a stand-patter, but don't be a stand-patter. Expect to be called a demagogue, but don't be a demagogue. Don't hesitate to be as revolutionary as science. Don't hesitate to be as reactionary as the multiplication table. Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong. Don't hurry to legislate. Give administration a chance to catch up with legislation.
In the 1913 session, Coolidge enjoyed renowned success in arduously navigating to passage the Western Trolley Act which connected Northampton with a dozen similar industrial communities in western Massachusetts. Coolidge intended to retire after his second term as was the custom, but when the President of the State Senate , Levi H. Greenwood , considered running for Lieutenant Governor, Coolidge decided to run again for the Senate in the hopes of being elected as its presiding officer. Although Greenwood later decided to run for reelection to the Senate, he was defeated primarily due to his opposition to women's suffrage; Coolidge was in favor of the women's vote, won his own re-election and with Crane's help, assumed the presidency of a closely divided Senate. After his election in January 1914, Coolidge delivered a published and frequently quoted speech entitled Have Faith in Massachusetts, which summarized his philosophy of government.
Coolidge's speech was well received, and he attracted some admirers
on its account; towards the end of the term, many of them were
proposing his name for nomination to lieutenant governor. After
winning reelection to the Senate by an increased margin in the 1914
elections, Coolidge was reelected unanimously to be President of the
Senate. Coolidge's supporters, led by fellow Amherst alumnus Frank
Stearns , encouraged him again to run for lieutenant governor.
Stearns, an executive with the
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR AND GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
Calvin and Grace Coolidge, about 1918
Coolidge entered the primary election for lieutenant governor and was
nominated to run alongside gubernatorial candidate
Samuel W. McCall
In Massachusetts, the lieutenant governor does not preside over the state Senate, as is the case in many other states; nevertheless, as lieutenant governor, Coolidge was a deputy governor functioning as administrative inspector and was a member of the governor's council. He was also chairman of the finance committee and the pardons committee. As a full-time elected official, Coolidge discontinued his law practice in 1916, though his family continued to live in Northampton. McCall and Coolidge were both reelected in 1916 and again in 1917. When McCall decided that he would not stand for a fourth term, Coolidge announced his intention to run for governor.
Coolidge was unopposed for the Republican nomination for Governor of
BOSTON POLICE STRIKE
Main article: Boston Police Strike
In 1919, in reaction to a plan of the policemen of the
"Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot justify the
wrong of leaving the city unguarded. That furnished the opportunity;
the criminal element furnished the action. There is no right to strike
against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time. ... I am
equally determined to defend the sovereignty of
TELEGRAM FROM GOVERNOR CALVIN COOLIDGE TO SAMUEL GOMPERS September 14, 1919.
Coolidge, sensing the severity of circumstances were then in need of
his intervention, conferred with Crane's operative, William Butler,
and then acted. He called up more units of the National Guard,
restored Curtis to office, and took personal control of the police
force. Curtis proclaimed that all of the strikers were fired from
their jobs, and Coolidge called for a new police force to be
recruited. That night Coolidge received a telegram from AFL leader
Samuel Gompers . "Whatever disorder has occurred", Gompers wrote, "is
due to Curtis's order in which the right of the policemen has been
denied…" Coolidge publicly answered Gompers's telegram, denying any
justification whatsoever for the strike – and his response launched
him into the national consciousness (quoted, above left). Newspapers
across the nation picked up on Coolidge's statement and he became the
newest hero to opponents of the strike. In the midst of the First Red
Scare , many Americans were terrified of the spread of communist
revolution, like those that had taken place in Russia , Hungary , and
Germany . While Coolidge had lost some friends among organized labor,
conservatives across the nation had seen a rising star. Although he
usually acted with deliberation, the
Coolidge inspects militia in
Coolidge and Cox were renominated for their respective offices in 1919. By this time Coolidge's supporters (especially Stearns) had publicized his actions in the Police Strike around the state and the nation and some of Coolidge's speeches were published in book form. He faced the same opponent as in 1918, Richard Long, but this time Coolidge defeated him by 125,101 votes, more than seven times his margin of victory from a year earlier. His actions in the police strike, combined with the massive electoral victory, led to suggestions that Coolidge run for president in 1920.
LEGISLATION AND VETOES AS GOVERNOR
By the time Coolidge was inaugurated on January 2, 1919, the First
World War had ended, and Coolidge pushed the legislature to give a
$100 bonus to
Coolidge also wielded the veto pen as governor. His most publicized
veto prevented an increase in legislators' pay by 50%. Although
Coolidge was personally opposed to Prohibition, he vetoed a bill in
May 1920 that would have allowed the sale of beer or wine of 2.75%
alcohol or less , in
Main article: United States presidential election, 1920
1920 Republican National Convention , most of the delegates
were selected by state party conventions, not primaries. As such, the
field was divided among many local favorites. Coolidge was one such
candidate, and while he placed as high as sixth in the voting, the
powerful party bosses running the convention, primarily the party's
U.S. Senators, never considered him seriously. After ten ballots, the
bosses and then the delegates settled on Senator
Warren G. Harding
The Democrats nominated another Ohioan,
James M. Cox
President Harding and Vice President Coolidge and their wives
The U.S. vice presidency did not carry many official duties, but Coolidge was invited by President Harding to attend cabinet meetings, making him the first vice president to do so. He gave a number of unremarkable speeches around the country.
As the U.S. vice president, Coolidge and his vivacious wife Grace
were invited to quite a few parties, where the legend of "Silent Cal"
was born. It is from this time that most of the jokes and anecdotes
involving Coolidge originate. 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 that 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."
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." Coolidge was aware of his stiff reputation; indeed, he cultivated it. "I think the American people want a solemn ass as a President," he once told Ethel Barrymore , "and I think I will go along with them." Some historians would later suggest that Coolidge's image was created deliberately as a campaign tactic, while others believe his withdrawn and quiet behavior to be natural, deepening after the death of his son in 1924.
Main article: Presidency of Calvin Coolidge
On August 2, 1923, President Harding died unexpectedly in San
Francisco while on a speaking tour of the western United States. Vice
President Coolidge was in
Coolidge returned to Washington the next day, and was sworn in again
Adolph A. Hoehling Jr. of the Supreme Court of the District
of Columbia , to forestall any questions about the authority of a
state official to administer a federal oath. This second oath taking
remained a secret until it was revealed by
Harry M. Daugherty in 1932,
and confirmed by Hoehling. When Hoehling confirmed Daugherty's story,
he indicated that Daugherty, then serving as United States Attorney
General , asked him to administer the oath without fanfare at the
Willard Hotel . According to Hoehling, he did not question
Daugherty's reason for requesting a second oath taking, but assumed it
was to resolve any doubt about whether the first swearing in was
valid. Coolidge signing the Immigration Act and some
appropriation bills. General
John J. Pershing
The nation initially did not know what to make of Coolidge, who had maintained a low profile in the Harding administration; many had even expected him to be replaced on the ballot in 1924. Coolidge believed that those of Harding's men under suspicion were entitled to every presumption of innocence, taking a methodical approach to the scandals, principally the Teapot Dome scandal , while others clamored for rapid punishment of those they presumed guilty. Coolidge thought the Senate investigations of the scandals would suffice; this was affirmed by the resulting resignations of those involved. He personally intervened in demanding the resignation of Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty after he refused to cooperate with the congressional probe. He then set about to confirm that no loose ends remained in the administration, arranging for a full briefing on the wrongdoing. Harry A. Slattery reviewed the facts with him, Harlan F. Stone analyzed the legal aspects for him and Senator William E. Borah assessed and presented the political factors.
Coolidge addressed Congress when it reconvened on December 6, 1923,
giving a speech that supported many of Harding's policies, including
Harding's formal budgeting process, the enforcement of immigration
restrictions and arbitration of coal strikes ongoing in
On June 2, 1924, Coolidge signed the act granting citizenship to all
Native Americans born in the United States. By that time, two-thirds
of the people were already citizens, having gained it through
marriage, military service (veterans of
World War I
Main article: United States presidential election, 1924 1924 electoral vote results
The Republican Convention was held on June 10–12, 1924, in
The Democrats held their convention the next month in
New York City
After the conventions and the death of his younger son Calvin, Coolidge became withdrawn; he later said that "when he died, the power and glory of the Presidency went with him." Even as he mourned, Coolidge ran his standard campaign, not mentioning his opponents by name or maligning them, and delivering speeches on his theory of government, including several that were broadcast over radio. It was the most subdued campaign since 1896, partly because of Coolidge's grief, but also because of his naturally non-confrontational style. The other candidates campaigned in a more modern fashion, but despite the split in the Republican party, the results were similar to those of 1920. Coolidge and Dawes won every state outside the South except Wisconsin, La Follette's home state. Coolidge won the popular vote by 2.5 million over his opponents' combined total.
INDUSTRY AND TRADE
it is probable that a press which maintains an intimate touch with the business currents of the nation is likely to be more reliable than it would be if it were a stranger to these influences. After all, THE CHIEF BUSINESS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IS BUSINESS. They are profoundly concerned with buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. (emphasis added)
PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE\'S ADDRESS TO THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF NEWSPAPER EDITORS, WASHINGTON D.C., January 25, 1925.
During Coolidge's presidency, the United States experienced a period
of rapid economic growth known as the "
Coolidge's economic policy has often been misquoted as "generally
speaking, the business of the American people is business" (full
quotation at right). Some have criticized Coolidge as an adherent of
the laissez-faire ideology, which they claim led to the Great
Depression . On the other hand, 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
TAXATION AND GOVERNMENT SPENDING
Coolidge's taxation policy was that of his Secretary of the Treasury,
OPPOSITION TO FARM SUBSIDIES
Coolidge with his vice president,
Charles G. Dawes
Perhaps the most contentious issue of Coolidge's presidency was
relief for farmers. Some in Congress proposed a bill designed to fight
falling agricultural prices by allowing the federal government to
purchase crops to sell abroad at lower prices. Agriculture Secretary
Henry C. Wallace and other administration officials favored the bill
when it was introduced in 1924, but rising prices convinced many in
Congress that the bill was unnecessary, and it was defeated just
before the elections that year. In 1926, with farm prices falling
once more, Senator
Charles L. McNary and Representative Gilbert N.
Haugen —both Republicans—proposed the McNary–Haugen Farm Relief
Bill . The bill proposed a federal farm board that would purchase
surplus production in high-yield years and hold it (when feasible) for
later sale or sell it abroad. Coolidge opposed McNary-Haugen,
declaring that agriculture must stand "on an independent business
basis," and said that "government control cannot be divorced from
political control." Instead of manipulating prices, he favored
After McNary-Haugen's defeat, Coolidge supported a less radical
measure, the Curtis-Crisp Act, which would have created a federal
board to lend money to farm co-operatives in times of surplus; the
bill did not pass. In February 1927, Congress took up the
McNary-Haugen bill again, this time narrowly passing it, and Coolidge
vetoed it. In his veto message, he expressed the belief that the bill
would do nothing to help farmers, benefiting only exporters and
expanding the federal bureaucracy. Congress did not override the
veto, but it passed the bill again in May 1928 by an increased
majority; again, Coolidge vetoed it. "Farmers never have made much
money," said Coolidge, the
Coolidge has often been criticized for his actions during the Great
Mississippi Flood of 1927 , the worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf
Osage men with Coolidge after he signed the bill granting Native Americans U.S. citizenship.
According to one biographer, Coolidge was "devoid of racial
prejudice," but rarely took the lead on civil rights. Coolidge
Ku Klux Klan
Coolidge spoke in favor of the civil rights of African-Americans , saying in his first State of the Union address that their rights were "just as sacred as those of any other citizen" under the U.S. Constitution and that it was a "public and a private duty to protect those rights."
Coolidge repeatedly called for laws to make lynching a federal crime
(it was already a state crime). Congress refused to pass any such
legislation. On June 2, 1924, Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship
Act , which granted U.S. citizenship to all American Indians living on
reservations (Indians off reservations had long been citizens). On
June 6, 1924, Coolidge delivered a commencement address at
historically black, non-segregated
In a speech in October 1924, Coolidge stressed tolerance of differences as an American value and thanked immigrants for their contributions to U.S. society, saying that they have "contributed much to making our country what it is." He stated that although the diversity of peoples was a detrimental source of conflict and tension in Europe, it was peculiar for the United States that it was a "harmonious" benefit for the country. Coolidge further stated the United States should assist and help immigrants who come to the country, and urged immigrants to reject "race hatreds" and "prejudices".
Official portrait of
Although not an isolationist, Coolidge was reluctant to enter into
foreign alliances. He considered the 1920 Republican victory as a
rejection of the Wilsonian position that the United States should join
League of Nations
Coolidge's primary initiative was the
Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928,
named for Coolidge's Secretary of State,
Frank B. Kellogg , and French
Coolidge continued the previous administration's policy of
withholding recognition of the
The United States' occupation of Nicaragua and Haiti continued under
his administration, but Coolidge withdrew American troops from the
Dominican Republic in 1924. Coolidge led the U.S. delegation to the
Sixth International Conference of American States , January 15–17,
Main article: United States presidential election, 1928 Play media Collection of video clips of President Coolidge
In the summer of 1927, Coolidge vacationed in the
Black Hills of
Coolidge's cabinet in 1924, outside the
Although a few of Harding's cabinet appointees were scandal-tarred,
Coolidge initially retained all of them, out of an ardent conviction
that as successor to a deceased elected president he was obligated to
retain Harding's counselors and policies until the next election. He
kept Harding's able speechwriter
Judson T. Welliver ; Stuart Crawford
replaced Welliver in November 1925. Coolidge appointed C. Bascom
Slemp , a
Perhaps the most powerful person in Coolidge's Cabinet was Secretary
of the Treasury
Coolidge appointed one justice to the Supreme Court of the United
Harlan Fiske Stone
Coolidge nominated 17 judges to the
United States Courts of Appeals
RETIREMENT AND DEATH
Coolidge addressing a crowd at
Arlington National Cemetery
After his presidency, Coolidge retired to the modest rented house on
residential Massasoit Street in Northampton before moving to a more
spacious home, "The Beeches." He kept a Hacker runabout boat on the
Connecticut River and was often observed on the water by local boating
enthusiasts. 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
Coolidge published his autobiography in 1929 and wrote a syndicated
newspaper column, "
Coolidge died suddenly from coronary thrombosis at "The Beeches," at
12:45 p.m., January 5, 1933. Shortly before his death, Coolidge
confided to an old friend: "I feel I no longer fit in with these
times." Coolidge is buried in
Plymouth Notch Cemetery
RADIO, FILM, AND COMMEMORATIONS
Coolidge, reporters, and cameramen
Despite his reputation as a quiet and even reclusive politician,
Coolidge made use of the new medium of radio and made radio history
several times while president. He made himself available to reporters,
giving 520 press conferences, meeting with reporters more regularly
than any president before or since. Coolidge's second inauguration
was the first presidential inauguration broadcast on radio. On
December 6, 1923, he was the first president whose address to Congress
was broadcast on radio. Coolidge signed the
Radio Act of 1927 , which
assigned regulation of radio to the newly created Federal Radio
Commission . On August 11, 1924,
Theodore W. Case , using the
Phonofilm sound-on-film process he developed for
Lee DeForest , filmed
Coolidge on the
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 on a 1938 postage stamp
SS President Coolidge
* ^ See also the main article, Lawrence textile strike , for a full description. * ^ The exact total was 1,117 out of 1,544 * ^ The tally was Coolidge 317,774, Long 192,673.
* ^ McCoy 1967 , pp. 420–21; Greenberg 2006 , pp. 49–53.
* ^ Fuess 1940 , p. 500.
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* ^ Wikisource:Calvin Coolidge\'s First State of the Union Address
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* ^ A B Greenberg 2006 , pp. 114–16.
* ^ Fuess 1940 , pp. 421–23.
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* ^ McCoy 1967 , p. 181.
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* ^ Sobel 1998 , p. 349.
* ^ Fuess 1940 , pp. 414–17; Ferrell 1998 , pp. 122–23.
* ^ "Travels of President Calvin Coolidge". U.S. Department of
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* Barry, John M. (1997). Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of
1927 and How It Changed America.
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* Bryson, Bill (2013), One Summer: America, 1927, New York:
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* Buckley, Kerry W. (December 2003). "'A President for the "Great
Silent Majority': Bruce Barton's Construction of Calvin Coolidge". The
* Coolidge, Calvin (1919). Have Faith in Massachusetts: A Collection
of Speeches and Messages (2nd ed.). Houghton Mifflin .
* Coolidge, Calvin (2004) . Foundations of the Republic: Speeches
and Addresses. University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-1598-9 .
* Coolidge, Calvin (1929). The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge.
* Coolidge, Calvin (1964). Howard H. Quint and Robert H. Ferrell,
ed. The Talkative President: The Off-the Record Press Conferences of
Calvin Coolidge. University of