Calvin Coolidge was the Republican president of the United States from August 1923 to January 1929. He was elected as vice president on the 1920 ticket with Warren Harding, but Harding died and Coolidge became president on August 3, 1923.
Coolidge was born in Vermont in the tiny village of Plymouth Notch on July 4, 1872. He is the only US president born on Independence Day, and his birthday is celebrated at Plymouth Notch every July 4. The town is preserved as it was in Coolidge’s youth.
President Coolidge adhered to traditional Vermont values throughout his life. He was honest, hard-working, believed in limited government, and spoke little, earning him the nickname ‘Silent Cal’.
His father said of his son in classic and humble Vermont fashion: “I think he’ll be a fairly good president. He was a fairly good governor and a fairly good vice president.”
Calvin Coolidge actually was serving as governor of next-door Massachusetts at the time that he was selected for the 1920 presidential ticket. He had graduated from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.
In the wee hours of August 3, 1923, when Coolidge was visiting the family homestead in Plymouth Notch, word came that president Harding had died. Coolidge and his wife Grace dressed themselves and, according to Wikipedia:
His father, a notary public and justice of the peace, administered oath of office in the family’s parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923; President Coolidge then went back to bed.
That is very funny, that he went back to bed. But that would be classic Coolidge.
President Coolidge was a fiscal conservative whose tax-cutting policies led to the Roaring 20s economic boom. When he was elected for a full term in 1924, the electoral map looked quite different from today.
Coolidge decided in 1927 that he would not seek a second full term in 1928. He eloquently stated his conservative principles, that men should not seek power, and that power corrupts them. He held true to his word.
Sadly president Coolidge died suddenly at age 60 in 1933.
Being a fan of Coolidge, I visited Plymouth Notch on July 4, 2017. What a day! Sunny, warm and patriotic… It started with a naturalization ceremony for 20 new US citizens. It was touching. Even judge Garvan Murtha, who conducted the naturalization, choked up. We sang The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, America the Beautiful and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Wonderful.
Here are a few photos from July 4 at Plymouth Notch (click on each photo if you would like to enlarge it):
Author, columnist and Coolidge biographer Amity Shlaes is chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation which oversees Plymouth Notch, the homestead of Coolidge. The Coolidge presidential library is in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Two new American citizens, formerly of the nation of Bhutan, show their joy in this picture with judge Murtha of the US District Court of Vermont.
This young lady immigrated from Romania. Isn’t it wonderful to see what legal and orderly immigration looks like?
Conservative commentator Cal Thomas checks his email on the porch of the Coolidge homestead. In the room behind the window, Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office.
At the gravesite of President and Mrs. Coolidge, the Coolidge Presidential Foundation executive director Matthew Denhart addresses the crowd that assembles every year to celebrate the ‘man of the people’ who wanted to be buried among the people who made him who he was.
During the July 4 celebration Coolidge’s autobiography is read aloud in the Plymouth Notch church that the Coolidge family attended for many generations.