Calvin Coolidge Biography
30th President of the United States
Years Served as President: 1923-1929
Vice President: Charles Gates Dawes
Age at Inauguration: 51
Home State: Vermont
Date of Birth: July 4, 1872
Died: January 5, 1933
Married: Grace Anna Goodhue
Children: Calvin, John
Nickname: Silent Cal
What is Calvin Coolidge known for?
Calvin Coolidge is considered a good president who cleaned up the scandals and mess left behind by Warren G. Harding’s administration.
As his nickname “Silent Cal” suggests, he’s also known for being a man of few words. Many historians refer to him as “the best president you’ve probably never heard of.”
He was born John Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth Notch, Vermont in 1872. His father was a hardworking, honest storekeeper and farmer who Calvin greatly admired. His mother, Victoria, died when Calvin was just 12.
As a boy, Calvin helped around the farm and the store. He was not especially ambitious and dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps. Growing up, he was an average student.
Still, he was admitted to Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he blossomed into a scholar. He was a member of the Republican Club and won prizes for both public speaking and essay-writing. Coolidge graduated with honors in 1895.
After college, Coolidge studied law and passed the bar exam. He opened his own law firm in Northampton and became involved in local Republican politics.
In 1905, Coolidge married Grace Anna Goodhue, a teacher at a school for the deaf. The couple had two sons, John and Calvin.
Calvin Jr. died of blood poisoning as a teenager.
Before becoming president, Coolidge held many positions in local and state politics. He served on the city council and was a city solicitor, county clerk, and chairman of the local Republican Party.
He was elected to the state legislature, became the mayor of Northampton, was elected to the Massachusetts Senate, and then served as Senate president.
Coolidge later became the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts and then, in 1918, was elected the state’s governor. When the Boston police force went on strike (refusing to work) and riots broke out, Coolidge gained national attention.
Declaring, “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime,” Coolidge sent in the state guard to restore order. He then refused to rehire the striking police officers.
At the 1920 Republican National Convention, Coolidge was chosen as the vice-presidential candidate on Warren G. Harding’s ticket. Harding and Coolidge won.
When Harding died during his presidency, most likely of a heart attack, Coolidge was sworn in as president.
When Coolidge became president, he immediately addressed the corruption and scandal that had plagued Harding’s administration. He “cleaned house,” firing everyone that had been involved and hiring a more reliable staff.
Due to Coolidge’s reputation for honesty, public faith in the government was restored.
Coolidge was also supportive of business, and the U.S. economy thrived. This period of prosperity was known as “the Roaring Twenties.”
After completing Harding’s term, Coolidge was re-elected under the campaign slogan “Keep Cool with Coolidge.”
Coolidge cut taxes and limited government spending. He set high tariffs on imported goods and rejected U.S. membership in the League of Nations. His goal was to promote business and protect U.S. industry.
He remained extremely popular throughout his presidency. Although most believe that Coolidge could have won re-election in 1928, he declined to run again.
After the Presidency
Coolidge returned to Northampton, Massachusetts after leaving the White House. He wrote political commentary for magazines and worked on his memoirs.
Soon after Coolidge left office, the stock market crashed. The U.S. entered an economic period known as the Great Depression.
Coolidge took part of the blame for this economic disaster, saying he had “avoided the big problems” during his presidency.
He died of a heart attack on January 5, 1933 at the age of 60.
Fun Facts About Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge is the only U.S. president to be born on Independence Day (July 4), although several have died on that date.
Coolidge was also the only U.S. president to be sworn in by his own father. It was the middle of the night when Coolidge learned of Harding’s death. His father, a notary public, administered the oath.
Coolidge’s first and only political loss was when he ran for a seat on the Northampton School Board in 1905.
He was also nicknamed “Red” for his red hair.
He was the first president to appear in a movie with sound, called a “talkie.”
Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, granting full U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans.
He was a man of few words, even until the end. His last will and testament was just 23 words long.