On August 2, 1923, Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president of the United States. All of a sudden, the world was asking who is Calvin Coolidge. With the death of Warren Harding, the former governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge, become president. Robert Washburn, a journalist, who had served with Calvin Coolidge in the Massachusetts legislature rush to the presses with this presidential biography. The world needed to know who this quiet man was who had risen to the highest office in the land. This article is a short history based upon Robert Washburn’s book, Calvin Coolidge, His First Biography.
Calvin Coolidge’s Early History and Reputation
While the United States has had three presidents who have died on the 4th of July, only one has been born on this nation’s birthday, Calvin Coolidge. Calvin, whose full name is John Calvin Coolidge, was born to John and Victoria Coolidge on July 4, 1872. He was born in the small town of Plymouth Notch, Vermont. He moved to Massachusetts when he went to Amherst College. Shortly after college, he studied for the bar and became an attorney.
Calvin Coolidge is also known as “silent Cal”. A nickname he earned because of his practice of not saying more than he needed to say. Upon being sworn in as the president of the Senate in 1915, he gave the shortest inaugural address:
Honorable Senators: My sincerest thanks, I offer you. Conserve the firm foundations of our institutions. Do your work with the spirit of a soldier in the public service. Be loyal to the Commonwealth and to yourselves. And be brief; above all things, Be Brief.
Calvin Coolidge’s Courtship and Family
With a reputation of saying very little, one could imagine that there would be some funny stories from his courtship with Grace Anna Goodie. You are correct. The good thing for Miss Grace is that she was a teacher to deaf students. Grace was used to being around people who did not talk out loud. When Calvin approached Grace’s father to ask for her hand in marriage, he said, “I’ve come to marry Grace.” To which her father replied: “Does she know it?” Calvin responded, “No, not now, but she will.”
Calvin was not the most romantic guy but he would not be repulsed. When the time came to propose, he put his handkerchief upon the ground and kneeled on it while he proposed. Calvin did not want to mess up his trousers, even though he was kneeling on a carpeted floor. She said yes, they were married and had two sons.
In addition to being a man of few words, he was also a man who lived within his means. He was careful to take care of his possessions. He lived humbly. Even when his salary would go up substantially, he would not change his living arangements.
Calvin Coolidge’s Political Career
This particular book does not go into a lot of details about Calvin’s political career. This book instead focused upon the character of Calvin. Who Calvin was and why a man of such few words was able to rise to the highest office in the land.
Calvin served two years as a Massachusetts state representative, four years as a state senator, three years as the Lieutenant Governor and two years as the Massachusetts Governor. It was as Governor that Calvin Coolidge rose to national fame. He rose to national fame for the way that he handled the Boston police strike. In 1919, three-quarters of the policeman in Boston walked off the job in protest. Calvin brought in the national guard to protect the city.
These actions lead the way for Calvin to gain national attention as a potential nominee for the President of the United States. While Calvin did not receive enough votes at the Republican convention to be nominated as president, once Warren Harding had obtained the nomination, Calvin was nominated for the Vice Presidency.
The Republicans won back the presidency after eight years of democratic control. Harding and Coolidge won 60% of the popular vote and 76% of the electoral college vote. One friend wrote to congratulate Calvin. Calvin’s reply was so brief that he did not even date the letter. His reply simply stated:
Thanks. Matt. 5:10, 11, C.C.
Calvin was elevated to the highest office in the land when Harding fell sick and died on a west coast trip.
Calvin Coolidge, His First Biography – Book Notes:
This review of the life of Calvin Coolidge was based upon my reading of the third edition of this book, copywriter 1923. My copy contains a stamp inside the front cover (pictured left). The stamp along with the notes show that this particular book was given by Frank Allen to Edward Horton. Frank Allen went on to become the 51st Governor of Massachusetts. Edward A. Horton was chaplain of the Massachusetts senate for approximately 25 years.