|UNO COLLEGE REPUBLICANS
PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE:
Revisited 87 Years Later
2010 marks the 87th anniversary of Calvin Coolidge taking office as America's 30th President. President Coolidge is often the "forgotten Republican," he was in essence the 'Ronald Reagan' of his era. We, the UNO College Republicans, pay tribute to President Calvin Coolidge, his life, his legacy, and his presidency.
NAME: John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
BORN: July 4, 1872; Plymouth, Vermont
DIED: January 5, 1933; Northampton, Mass.
SPOUSE: Grace Goodhue Coolidge
CHILDREN: John; Calvin, Jr.
ALMA MATER: Amherst College
IN OFFICE: August 2, 1923 - March 4, 1929
VICE PRESIDENT: Vacant (1923 - 1925), Charles G. Dawes (1925 - 1929)
LIFE IN POLITICS
Before becoming President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge had a rich career in politics which includes the following:
President of the Mass. State Senate (1914 - 1915)
Lt. Governor of Massachusetts (1916 - 1919)
Governor of Massachusetts (1919 - 1921)
Vice President of the US (1921 - 1923)
(Above) The 1924 electoral map for the presidency of the United States. The map shows President Calvin Coolidge winning office by winning every US state outside of the south and Wisconsin. The popular vote had Coolidge up 2.5 million votes over both his opponents' combined.
Coolidge and his Presidential Cabinet outside the
White House, 1924.
President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace
Coolidge, about 1918.
President Calvin Coolidge and Vice President Charles
President Calvin Coolidge addresses a crowd at
Arlington National Cemetery's Roman-style Memorial
President Coolidge's most memorable speech during
his presidency is known as the "Brave Little State of
Vermont" speech. It was given in 1928 and is inscribed in marble at the Vermont State House.
The Coolidge's family home where the President and his family returned to after his presidency. The Coolidge estate is known as "The Beeches."
A young Calvin Coolidge.
President Calvin Coolidge and the First Lady on
Inauguration Day celebrations.
President Calvin Coolidge immortalized on a US
A 1920's campaign button supporting Calvin Coolidge for US President and Charles G. Dawes for US Vice President.
President Calvin Coolidge riding a horse.
|BIRTH AND FAMILY HISTORY
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, on July 4, 1872, the only U.S. President to be born on the Fourth of July. His chronically ill mother died, possibly from tuberculosis, when Coolidge was just 12 years old. His only sibling, Abigail Grace Coolidge (1875–1890), died at the age of 15, when Coolidge was 18 years old. Coolidge's father married a schoolteacher in 1891 and lived to the age of 80. Over the years, Coolidge grew close to his step mother. Coolidge's father engaged in many occupations during his lifetime, and ultimately enjoyed a statewide reputation as a prosperous farmer, storekeeper and committed public servant. He farmed, taught school, ran a local store, served in the Vermont House of Representatives and then the Vermont State Senate, and held various local offices including justice of the peace and tax collector. Coolidge's mother was the daughter of a Plymouth Notch farmer.
Coolidge's family had deep roots in New England. His earliest American ancestor, John Coolidge, emigrated from Cambridge, England around 1630 and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. Another Coolidge ancestor, Edmund Rice, arrived at Watertown in 1638. Coolidge's great-great-grandfather, also named John Coolidge, was an American army officer in the Revolutionary War and was one of the first selectmen of the town of Plymouth Notch.
Most of Coolidge's ancestors were farmers; the more well-known Coolidges, such as architect Charles Allerton Coolidge, general Charles Austin Coolidge, and diplomat Archibald Cary Coolidge, were descended from branches of the family that had remained in Massachusetts.
Coolidge's grandmother, Sarah Almeda Brewer, had two famous first cousins: Arthur Brown, a United States Senator, and Olympia Brown, a women's suffragist. It is through this ancestor that Coolidge claimed American Indians descent, although this claim has not been established. Coolidge's grandfather, Calvin Coolidge, held local government offices in Plymouth and was remembered as a man with "a fondness for practical jokes".
EARLY CAREER AND MARRIAGE
Coolidge attended and graduated from Amherst College, where he joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. At his father's urging, Coolidge moved to Northampton, Massachusetts after graduating to take up the practice of law. Avoiding the costly alternative of attending a law school, Coolidge followed the more common practice of the time, apprenticing with the firm of a local law firm, Hammond & Field, and reading law with them. In 1897, Coolidge was admitted to the bar, becoming a country lawyer. With his savings and a small inheritance from his grandfather, Coolidge was able to open his own law office in Northampton in 1898. He practiced transactional law, believing that he served his clients best by staying out of court. As his reputation as a hard-working and diligent attorney grew, local banks and other businesses began to retain his services.
During his career as a Lawyer, Calvin Coolidge became involved in politics by campaigning for Republican candidates and even running for various local and state offices his self. Coolidge’s early political career started when he was elected to the local Republican City Committee. Soon thereafter he was elected to the City Council, City Solicitor, and Clerk of Court. During his entire political career, Coolidge only lost one election; which was to the local school board, it is said he lost because he has no children at the time. Coolidge also served two terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Mayor of Northampton, Mass., State Senator, Lt. Governor, Governor, US Vice President, and US President.
In 1905 Coolidge met and married a fellow Vermonter, Grace Anna Goodhue, who was working as a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf. While Grace was watering flowers outside the school one day in 1903, she happened to look up at the open window of Robert N. Weir's boardinghouse and caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge shaving in front of a mirror with nothing on but long underwear and a hat. After a more formal introduction sometime later, the two were quickly attracted to each other. They were married on October 4, 1905, in the parlor of her parents' home in Burlington, Vermont.
THE COOLIDGE PRESIDENCY
Calvin Coolidge became President of the United States following the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding in 1923. The nation did not know what to make of its new President; Coolidge had not stood out in the Harding administration and many had expected him to be replaced on the ballot in 1924. Although many of Harding's cabinet appointees were scandal-tarred, Coolidge announced that he would not demand any of their resignations, believing that since the people had elected Harding, he should carry on Harding's presidency, at least until the next election.
He addressed Congress when it reconvened on December 6, 1923, giving a speech that echoed many of Harding's themes, including immigration restriction and the need for the government to arbitrate the coal strikes then ongoing in Pennsylvania. The Washington Naval Treaty was proclaimed just one month into Coolidge's term, and was generally well received in the country. In May 1924, the World War I Veterans' Bonus Bill was passed over his veto. Coolidge signed the Immigration Act later that year, though he appended a signing statement expressing his unhappiness with the bill's specific exclusion of Japanese immigrants. Just before the Republican Convention began, Coolidge signed into law the Revenue Act of 1924, which decreased personal income tax rates while increasing the estate tax, and creating a gift tax to reinforce the transfer tax system.
In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge received the Republican nomination for a full term as President of the United States. Coolidge was to face off against the Democrat nominee John W. Davis and former Republican-turned-Progressive Robert La Follette. Many feared that La Follette’s split from the Republican Party to form the Progressive Party would allow a Democrat to win the Presidency similar to the 1912 election. President Coolidge won a full term with a popular vote majority of 2.5 million over both his opponent’s combined and with winning every US state outside the south and Wisconsin (which was La Follette’s home state).
President Coolidge decided not to seek re-election in 1928 because he felt ten years in Washington is too long. After his presidency, Coolidge and his family returned to Northampton. He wrote and published his autobiography in 1929 and even wrote a syndicated newspaper column, “Calvin Coolidge Says,” from 1930-1931. President Coolidge died suddenly at age 60 from a heart attack and buried at his estate, “The Beeches.”
(Above) Calvin Coolidge being sworn in as the President of the United States.
PRESIDENCY IN REVIEW
Industry and Trade
During Coolidge’s presidency, the United States experienced the period of rapid economic growth known as “The Roaring Twenties.” He left the administration’s industrial policy in the hands of his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Coolidge and Hoover agreed in their belief that government should be largely absent from the business world. With the exception of favoring increased tariffs, President Coolidge disdained regulation, and carried out this belief by appointing commissioners to the Federal Trade Commission and the Interstate Commerce Commission who did little to restrict businesses under their jurisdiction.
Coolidge’s economic policy has often been misquoted as, “generally speaking, the business of the American people is business.” Some have criticized Coolidge by stating that his policies led to the Great Depression. While Governor of Massachusetts, Coolidge supported wages and hours legislation, opposed child labor, imposed economic controls during World War I, favored safety measures in factories, and even worker representation on corporate boards. The modern-day criticism of Coolidge is dumbfounded because in the 1920’s, such were considered the responsibilities of state and local governments; i.e.: state’s rights.
On taxes, Coolidge and his Treasury Secretary believed that taxes should be low and that fewer people should pay them. In addition to lowering taxes, Coolidge proposed cuts in federal expedentures and retiring some of the federal debt. Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1924, which reduced income tax rates and eliminated all income taxation for some 2 million Americans. Taxes were lowered again with the passing of the Revenue Acts of 1926 and 1928, all the while continuing to keep spending down so as to reduce the federal debt. Although federal spending remained flat during Coolidge’s presidency, state and local governments saw considerable growth even surpassing the federal budget. Coolidge’s policies allowed one-fourth of the national debt to be retired during his years in office.
President Coolidge spoke out in favor of the civil rights of African Americans and Catholics. Subsequently, Coolidge appointed no known members of the Ku Klux Klan to office; the Klan lost much of its influence during his term.
On June 2, 1924, President Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted full US citizenship to all Native Americans, while permitting them to retain tribal land and cultural rights.
Although he was not an isolationist, President Coolidge was reluctant to enter into foreign alliances. Coolidge saw the landslide Republican victory of 1920 as a rejection of the Wilsonian idea that the United States should join the League of Nations. While not completely opposed to the idea, Coolidge believed the League, as then constituted, did not serve American interests, and he did not advocate membership in it.
Coolidge’s best known initiative was the Kellogg-Briand Act of 1928, named for his Secretary of State, Frank B. Kellogg, and French foreign minister Aristide Briand. The treaty was ratified in 1929 and was signed by the US, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan. The treaty aimed to “renounce war, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another;” the treaty did not achieve its intended result – the outlawry of war – but did provide the founding principle for international law after World War II.
When it came to relations with the Soviet Union, President Coolidge continued the previous administration’s policy not to recognize the country. Coolidge also continued the country’s support for the elected government of Mexico against the rebels there and even lifted the arms embargo on that country. President Coolidge represented the United States at the Pan American Conference in Havana, Cuba, making him the only sitting US President to visit the country. He also continued the United State’s occupation of Nicaragua and Haiti, but Coolidge withdrew American troops from the Dominican Republic.
The Supreme Court
Coolidge had only one chance to change the composition of the Supreme Court and he nominated Harlan Fiske Stone, who was confirmed by the Senate. Stone, when nominated, was currently serving as the United State’s Attorney General. Justice Stone was later nominated as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Coolidge signed the Judiciary Act of 1925 which allowed the Supreme Court to have more discretion over its workload.
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