Updated date:

Calvin Coolidge: 30th President: Prosperity With Small Government

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official Presidential Photo

Calvin Coolidge's Vice Presidency

Calvin Coolidge is the only president, so far, to share his birthday with our country's independence. He was born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. He worked on the family farm, where he was responsible for the cattle, crops, and various other chores. His father was well respected and held several local offices such as tax collector and constable. His mother and sister both died when he was still quite young.

He went off to Amherst College, where he graduated with honors, then became a lawyer in Northampton, Massachusetts. While there, he met his wife, Grace Goodhue, who became a teacher of the deaf. Over the next twenty years, he served in 19 different offices, serving from councilman in 1900, and chairman of the Northampton Republican Committee in 1904. Three years later, he joined the state legislature and eventually became the Republican Governor of Massachusetts.

He became popular across the country for his work as Governor. During his term, the police officers of Boston went on strike, in which he acted quickly and brought in the state guard to break it up. Coolidge was very firm and maintained order throughout the strike.

The recognition he got during that time, helped get him elected as Vice-President under President Warren G. Harding. As Vice-President, he kept a low profile. He seldom spoke during cabinet meetings and began to earn his nickname, "Silent Cal." It is said, while President, a woman approached him and stated that she bet her friend that she could get him to say more than two words. His response, "You lose."

Basic Facts

Question Answer

Born

July 4, 1872 - Vermont

President Number

30th

Party

Republican

Military Service

none

Wars Served

none

Age at Beginning of Presidency

51 years old

Term of Office

August 3, 1923 - March 3, 1929

How Long President

6 years

Vice-President

None (1923–1925) Charles G. Dawes (1925–1929)

Age and Year of Death

January 5, 1933 (aged 60)

Cause of Death

coronary thrombosis

When Did Calvin Coolidge Serve as President?

On August 3, 1923, Coolidge, being the next in line for president, was notified at 2:30 a.m. while he was visiting his father's farm that his predecessor Warren G. Harding had died. Coolidge took the Oath of Office in front of his father, who was a notary public and a few other witnesses using the family Bible and a kerosene lamp. It was then that he became the 30th President of the United States. Immediately after, true to his laid-back character, Coolidge got out of the black suit that he had dressed in for the occasion and went back to bed. He'd go onto serving six more years until 1929.

With Helen Keller

What Is Calvin Coolidge Best Known For?

He followed the prohibition laws that were in effect during that time, and often only served ice water at functions. His wife, who was very social, kept the parties very lively. First lady Grace Goodhue Coolidge helped him gain his popularity, as she was his opposite in many ways. She was very charismatic, and she was often photographed and even joked that she was the "national hugger." Grace was also successful in her line of work as an instructor for the deaf. As the first lady, she brought national attention to the hearing-impaired and became close friends with Helen Keller, an author, and activist who was born both deaf and blind.

Coolidge was able to take care of the scandals that occurred during Harding's administration and even reduced the national debt, which gave him a reputation for being honest and hardworking. Because the '20s were a time of wealth and prosperity, it became known as the "Coolidge Prosperity," which only increased his popularity.

Signing Appropriation Bills

President Coolidge signing appropriation bills for the Veterans Bureau on the south lawn during the garden party for wounded veterans

President Coolidge signing appropriation bills for the Veterans Bureau on the south lawn during the garden party for wounded veterans

Who Ran Against Coolidge in 1924?

In 1924, he won with a vast majority due to his previous successes. He ran against Democratic nominee John Davis, Progressive nominee Robert M. La Follette, and Prohibition nominee Herman P. Faris. Coolidge received 382 electoral votes out of 531. Davis received 136, La Follette received 13, and Faris did not receive any electoral votes.

Unfortunately, this was a tough personal time for Coolidge, because his 16-year-old son died of blood poisoning during his campaign. Coolidge said, "When he (his son) went, the power and the glory of the presidency went with him."

Despite his quiet demeanor, Coolidge held press conferences, spoke on the radio, and was very visible to the public. People of the time even said he was "the most photographed person on Earth," posing even in farmer overalls, cowboy hats, and Indian headdresses.

He believed in small government and only chose to intervene when he felt that issues could not be handled at the state level. This was a great contrast to both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson before him. The stark contrast caused many to believe he did very little while in office.

Coolidge did focus on the economic side of politics. He preferred lower taxes, a balanced budget, and fewer regulations on businesses. Despite his wisdom in economics, many believed the president was at fault for the stock market crash in 1929 that eventually led to the Great Depression. Many felt that he should have been able to stop it from happening.

Coolidge also encouraged the United States to seek out foreign markets but refrained from building alliances with other nations. He was against Wilson's League of Nations. He also strongly supported the Kellogg-Briand Pact in 1928 that objected to war when it came to settling international differences.

Though still popular at the end of his first full-term, he chose not to run again, despite the urging of the Republican parties and retired from his career in politics. He believed that a president should only serve two-terms, which may have led to this being an eventual restriction. He did see the beginning disasters of the Great Depression before his death on January 1933. As a result, many changed their opinion of him after he had left office, blaming some of his policy decisions for the collapse.

He had made tax cuts that people felt worsened the distribution of wealth and caused the overproduction of goods. He also vetoed a bill (McNary-Haugen bill) that some felt could have helped the agricultural sector. By vetoing this bill, they felt he was limiting aid to farmers. Coolidge also stopped a plan that would have allowed the production of cheap Federal electric power on the Tennessee River. Although his policies may not have been well-respected, he was, for his character and integrity.

Fun Facts

  • He was the first president to address the American people with a public radio address, which he did so on Feb. 22, 1924.
  • He was known as 'Silent Cal' because he was a very quiet man. A woman once said that she bet she could get him to say more than two words. His reply, "You lose."
  • When Warren Harding died, he was sworn into office in the middle of the night by his father, he then went back to bed immediately after.
  • Although three presidents died on Independence Day, he is the only one who was born on the Fourth of July.
  • His wife, Grace Coolidge, was his exact opposite, very charismatic and friendly. She was also a spokesperson for the deaf and became good friends with Helen Keller.

Excerpt from History Channel

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington

16. Abraham Lincoln

31. Herbert Hoover

2. John Adams

17. Andrew Johnson

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

3. Thomas Jefferson

18. Ulysses S. Grant

33. Harry S. Truman

4. James Madison

19. Rutherford B. Hayes

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

5. James Monroe

20. James Garfield

35. John F. Kennedy

6. John Quincy Adams

21. Chester A. Arthur

36. Lyndon B. Johnson

7. Andrew Jackson

22. Grover Cleveland

37. Richard M. Nixon

8. Martin Van Buren

23. Benjamin Harrison

38. Gerald R. Ford

9. William Henry Harrison

24. Grover Cleveland

39. James Carter

10. John Tyler

25. William McKinley

40. Ronald Reagan

11. James K. Polk

26. Theodore Roosevelt

41. George H. W. Bush

12. Zachary Taylor

27. William Howard Taft

42. William J. Clinton

13. Millard Fillmore

28. Woodrow Wilson

43. George W. Bush

14. Franklin Pierce

29. Warren G. Harding

44. Barack Obama

15. James Buchanan

30. Calvin Coolidge

45. Donald Trump

Sources

  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Calvin Coolidge. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/calvincoolidge
  • Miller Center. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://millercenter.org/president/biography/coolidge-life-in-brief
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz