Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

30th President, 1923-1929

Early Life and Pre-presidency

Official Presidential portrait of Calvin Coolidge Artist: Charles Syndey Hopinknson, 1932

Official Presidential portrait of Calvin Coolidge
Artist: Charles Syndey Hopinknson, 1932

  • Born John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. on July 4, 1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.
  • Parents: John Calvin Coolidge and Victoria Josephine Moor. Sibling: Abigail Grace.
  • Enrolled at a Plymouth elementary school then at Black River Academy in Ludlow, Vermont for high school.
  • Attended Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1891, graduating in 1895 with honors.
  • Apprenticed with a law firm in Northampton, Massachusetts then was admitted to the bar in 1897.
  • Opened his law practice in Northampton in 1898.
  • Appointed City Solicitor in 1900 and served until 1902. Elected county clerk in 1903, then was chosen as chairman of the local Republican Party organization in 1904.
  • Married Grace Anna Goodhue (1879–1957) on October 4, 1905. Children: John (1906–2000) and Calvin (1908–1924).
  • Elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1906 and served until 1909.
  • Elected Mayor of of Northampton in 1910 and served for one year.
  • Elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1912 and served until 1915. He was elected Senate President in 1914.
  • Elected Lieutenant Governer in 1915 and served from 1916 to 1918.
  • Elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1918 and served until 1920.
  • Chosen as Warren G. Harding’s running mate for the Republican Party in the 1920 Presidential election.
  • Elected Vice President of Warren G. Harding. On August 2, 1923, President Harding died in San Francisco while recovering from an illness during his tour of the Western states. Coolidge was visiting with his family in Vermont at the time.

Presidency

Coolidge while in office, 1923 Photograph by John Garo

Coolidge while in office, 1923
Photograph by John Garo

  • Upon receiving word of Harding’s death, Coolidge took his oath of office at his family’s home on August 3, 1923.
  • The oath of office was administered by his father, who was a notary public. He left for Washington the next day and was re-sworn by a Supreme Court Justice.
  • His State of the Union address on December 6, 1923 was the first official address by a President to be broadcast on the radio.
  • Vetoed the Soldier’s Bonus Bill in April 1924, but Congress overrode his veto.
  • In May 1924, Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, a stricter version of the 1921 Act that brought the immigration cap down to 2% from 3%. The law further completely barred the immigration of Middle Easterners, Indians, and East Asians, particularly the Japanese.
  • Signed the Indian Citizenship Act in June 1924 granting full U.S. citizenship to all American Indians and allowing them to retain their tribal lands and cultural rights.
  • Nominated by the Republican Party as its Presidential candidate in the 1924 election. He won the election with a majority of the electoral votes.
  • Although opposed to the idea of the League of Nations, he supported the participation of the United States in the Permanent Court of International Justice. In January 1926, the Senate approved a resolution allowing U.S. participation if certain conditions were met. When one condition is not met, the Senate rejected full participation in the Court.
  • Signed the Revenue Act in February 1926. The law reduced income taxes and import duties.
  • Signed the Air Corps Act into law in July 1926. The law established the U.S. Army Air Corps that would later become the United States Air Force.
  • On October 25, 1926, the Supreme Court ruled to nullify the Tenure of Office Act passed in 1868. The act prohibited the President from removing cabinet members without Senate approval.
  • The McNary–Haugen Farm Relief Bill was introduced four times during Coolidge’s term: in 1924, 1926, 1927, and 1928. The first two times, it was defeated in Congress. In 1927 and 1928, it was passed by Congress but at both times, Coolidge vetoed the bill and Congress did not attempt to override his vetoes.
  • Attended the Sixth International Conference of American States in Havana, Cuba in January, 1928, becoming the only incumbent President to visit the country.
  • When asked whether he would seek a second elected term as President, he replied, “I do not choose to run for president in 1928.”
  • Initiated the creation of the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928 or the Pact of Paris. The pact outlawed war as a means to settle dispute, favoring diplomacy instead. The treaty was ratified by the U.S. on August 27, 1928 along with 15 other countries.

Post-presidency

Coolidge (front row, center) with his cabinet, 1924

Coolidge (front row, center) with his cabinet, 1924

  • Retired to his home, The Beeches, in Northampton, Massachusetts.
  • His autobiography was published in 1929 soon after he left the Presidency.
  • From 1930 to 1931, he wrote a nationally syndicated column “Calvin Coolidge Says” for the McClure Newspaper.
  • After his retirement, he became honorary President of the American Foundation for the Blind. He also served as President of the American Antiquarian Society, as a director of New York Life Insurance Company, and as a trustee of Amherst College.
  • Received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine on June 23, 1920.
  • Died on January 5, 1933 of coronary thrombosis.
  • He was buried at Notch Cemetery in Plymouth Notch, Vermont
  • The Calvin Coolidge Homestead District, also known as the President Calvin Coolidge State Historical Site, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont includes the home where Coolidge spent his childhood and where he took his oath of office after President Harding’s death. It is also the cemetery where he is buried. The area was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
  • Although survived by his wife and one son, he left his entire estate to his wife.