CalvinCoolidge.us is an educational,inspirational and character and values based website. It is the largest, instantly available, source of information about President Calvin Coolidge on the Internet, and is dedicated to emphasizing character and values.
Many other institutions, most notably The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum at The Forbes Library and the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, offer highly professional and scholarly insights, and a far greater potential depth of information, than is offered here. Further research through them and other sources is highly recommended and encouraged. This site is intended to be a bridge to that knowledge, not an end in itself.
Calvin Coolidge exemplified character and values throughout his life. A principal objective is to highlight these values for emulation and to serve as an inspiration for a better life. The President's principles are also particularly apt for those engaging in, or aspiring to, public service.
In Honor of:
President Calvin Coolidge
President Gerald Ford
President Jimmy Carter
President Coolidge restored the dignity and prestige of the Presidency when it was at a low ebb. The nation similarly owes a great debt to President Ford and President Carter for restoring the dignity of the Presidency, through their strength of character and honesty.
Visit The Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum
Visit The Jimmy Carter Library
BOOKMARK THIS SITE NOW...
It's typically too long to read in one visit. Make it easier now, to come back later.
For your convenience, this website provides links to other educational and presidential websites.For your general reference, links have been created below where you may directly access The White House,The United States Senate and the US House of Representatives and the US Supreme Court:
Visit The White House
Visit The US Senate
Visit The US House of Representatives
Visit The US Supreme Court
E-mails with comments, may be sent to: Larry Danks at email@example.com. Questions about President Coolidge should be directed to the excellent institutions mentioned on the "Resources" page.
CREDIT TO SOURCES
The information here has been developed through about four years of research on the life of President Coolidge. Credit has been given to a number of particular scholars, yet inadvertently the thoughts and words of others may potentially have been incorporated into the information presented here. An attempt to account for this has been made by creating a reference section of sources in the website, some of which have been drawn upon as background or source material to develop this information.
I am highly appreciative of all the scholarship that has come ahead of me. Any slights are completely unintentional. Verifiable oversights brought to my attention in this regard, from an original source, will be credited. I am hopeful that the compilation and presentation of information on President Coolidge may inspire others to learn more about his life, so some of them can become keepers of his legacy as well:
"One day I would like to teach just a few people many and beautiful things, that would help them when they will one day teach a few people." Anonymous
NAVIGATING THE SITE
Each of the short titles, at the top of the page, is representative of a page in this site. Clicking on each title will take you to pages one through five respectively. Due to space limitations in these title sections, only the major topic on each page is shown. Some contain additional information, so please visit each page at your leisure. The site currently contains about 34,000 words of information.
OVERVIEW OF CALVIN COOLIDGE
A review of the history of American presidents is a review of the important issues which have faced the nation. Equally interesting are the various characters and personalities who have served in our highest office. Coolidge's character served the nation well in a time of national distress caused by the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and by the subsequent scandals of his administration, which were soon revealed.
Coolidge became the sixth Vice-President to assume the presidency upon the death of a president. Perhaps he may have thought what President Gerald Ford said about his presidency: "I look back and wonder how it ever happened to me."
Coolidge's dry wit is legendary. He spoke rapidly with little inflection. Horace Taft, after hearing him speak, wrote to his brother William Howard Taft, the former President and Chief Justice, saying that his voice was "about as musical as the sound made by a buzz saw." Coolidge was a man of many contrasts:
* Conscience directed and conscientious in the performance of his duty, yet not a president known for working late
* Full of love for his wife, yet sometimes terse and overbearing by today's standards
* An intensely private man, but one who spent much of his life in the public eye
* A speaker of substantive content, but with rapid delivery, lacking much inflection. (Many of Coolidge's words are as relevant today as they were then, particularly his emphasis on basic values.)
* Charitable and generous on one hand, yet petty on other occasions
* Dry and droll, but with a quick wit that greatly amused the public
* Warm and sentimental, but with a public persona which would hardly suggest it.
Coolidge's strong conservatism, moral stance, support of the public interest, emphasis on rugged individualism and personal responsibility, and sometimes simplistic thinking, provide a precursor to President Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Coolidge was one of Reagan's favorite presidents. Reagan had President Truman's picture removed from the White House Cabinet Room and replaced it with one of Coolidge. Clearly this was a tribute to the kinship President Reagan felt to Coolidge's philosophy, as President Truman has been rated by historians as one of our finer, and highly honorable, Presidents.
Visit The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Visit The Truman Presidential Museum and Library
A commentator once said Coolidge was a man of "repressed sentimentality chained in a prison of a smooth, flinty New England exterior." Another described him as "a throwback to earlier times - a museum piece of old fashioned New England values."
In his time, Coolidge was one of the most popular presidents to occupy the White House. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas has said "politics, in the end, is not about drama, but about principle, not about charisma, but about character." He noted that Coolidge provided a simple prescription for public service for all government officials to emulate, namely to walk humbly and to discharge obligations faithfully. The principles espoused by President Coolidge should be required reading for all public officials, those aspiring to public service and those seeking a model of character and values.
Dr. Robert Sobel, a leading Coolidge biographer, said Coolidge was "extraordinary in his simplicity and notable in his complexity."
In a keynote address at the conference "Calvin Coolidge: Examining the Evidence" held at the John F. Kennedy Library in July of 1998, Richard Norton Smith, former Director of four presidential libraries said "To most Americans in the 1920's, Coolidge was more than a character. He was character...To most voters, he was a leader of rare integrity and immovable principle." It is character that endures. Coolidge established a high and honorable standard for all leaders and everyday Americans to follow.
CHRONOLOGY OF CALVIN COOLIDGE
1872 Born on 4th of July in Plymouth, Vermont
1895 Graduated from Amherst College
1897 Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar
1898 Elected Councilman of Northampton, Massachusetts
1901 Elected City Solicitor
1903 Elected Clerk of Courts of Hampshire County
1904 Became Chairman of Republican City Committee
1905 Married Grace Goodhue. They had two sons: John and Calvin.
1906 Elected to the Massachusetts General Court
1909 Elected Mayor of Northampton
1911 Elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. Elected President of the Senate several years later.
1915 Elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts
1918 Elected Governor of Massachusetts
1919 Issued famous declaration against Boston Police Strike
1920 Chosen Republican Vice-Presidential nominee on ticket with Presidential nominee, Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio
1921 Elected Vice President of the United States
1923 Sworn in as the 30th President of the United States on August 3rd upon the death of President Harding
1924 Death of son, Calvin Jr.
1924 Elected President of the United States
1929 Left office. Published "The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge"
1933 Died on January 5th in Northampton
(A more detailed chronology is listed in The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation website, on the "Further Sources" page.)
CALVIN COOLIDGE: A PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY
This brief biography is intended to sketch a personal portrait of Calvin Coolidge. Those interested in a detailed review of the Coolidge presidency are directed to the fine sources of information researched by professional historians and to The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.
THE EARLY YEARS
John Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4,1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont in a room behind the general store his father operated. He was the only president born on the Fourth of July. (Two of our presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on the Fourth of July in 1826, exactly fifty years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776. President Monroe died on the same date in 1831.)
Coolidge was named after his father, but the name John was dropped in his boyhood and he was called Calvin, "Cal" or "Red" because of his red hair. His sister Abbie was born in 1875. The family moved to a home across the street from the store a short time later. An excellent starting point to learn more about President Coolidge is "The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge" available through the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 97, Plymouth Notch,VT 05056.(802-672-3389.) Some of the quotations appearing in this life summary are taken from the President's autobiography.
Coolidge described his boyhood by saying he was always encouraged to work and save, but that he did his share of playing too. "My playing sometimes got in the way of my filling the wood box. I was sometimes taken out of bed to do penance for such derelictions." His life on the farm was a busy one and required a great deal of work: "I used to help plant potatoes, drive the horse drawn mowing machine, drive the oxen and plow, milk cows and move them to pasture, and help with the harvesting and sugaring...Before Thanksgiving, poultry had to be dressed for market, and a little later the fattened hogs were butchered and the meat salted down. Early in winter, a beef creature was slaughtered." Coolidge also enjoyed the natural surroundings of the Vermont countryside and often rode a horse alone saying that "a horse was much company" and that the riding, seeing and thinking was "a good occupation for a boy", noting "the silences of nature have a discipline of their own."
Coolidge wore a peasant smock knitted by his grandmother when he did field work. There are photos of Coolidge in the smock doing farm work to assist his father during his presidency. Some thought that such photographs were contrived, but Coolidge had worn such garb all during his life when doing farm chores.
Coolidge said he was a country boy and spent other times hunting, trapping, fishing and coasting. He also liked animals, a tradition he carried to the White House where he had quite a menagerie, including dogs, cats and a raccoon, which he would sometimes walk around the White House with on a leash or draped around his neck.
Coolidge said his family used to get lots of visitors. His description of these visits reveals a great deal about his nature: "Most of the visitors to our house would sit in the kitchen with my mother and father. The hardest thing in the world for me was to go through that kitchen door and greet the visitors. By fighting hard, I used to manage to get through the door. I got all right with old friends. But every time I met a stranger, I'd have to stand by that kitchen door for a minute. It was hard."
Coolidge's mother Victoria Josephine Moor Coolidge died when she was 39 years old, when Coolidge was only twelve. He said "the greatest grief that can come to a boy came to me." He carried a picture of his mother with him in a silver case all through his life. It was found in his pocket when he died.
Coolidge's father, John Coolidge, was a man of many talents, serving three terms in the Vermont legislature, and as a storekeeper, road commissioner, deputy sheriff, notary public and farmer. Coolidge attributed much of his success to his father. "My father had qualities that were greater than I possess. I cannot recall that I ever knew of his doing a wrong thing." He said he was never half the man his father was.
As he grew up, Coolidge said there were no class distinctions: "Those who assumed superior airs were held in contempt. Whenever the hired man or girl wanted to go anywhere, they were always understood to be entitled to my place in the wagon, in which case I remained home. This gave me very early training in democratic ideas and impressed on me very forcibly the dignity and power, if not the superiority of labor."
Coolidge described his neighbors as "people of faith, charity and good works. They cherished the Bible and sought to live in accordance to its principles." He said the habits and morals he was taught at home and in his boyhood stayed with him all his life. "It was a hard but wholesome life, under which the people suffered many privations and enjoyed many advantages, without any clear realization of the existence of either of them."
BLACK RIVER ACADEMY
At thirteen, Coolidge was sent to the Black River Academy in Ludlow (an architecturally striking building, now a museum). On some weekends, when his father didn't pick him up, or when he didn't walk the twelve miles back to Plymouth, he stayed with his mother's oldest sister Sarah in Proctorsville.
His father subsequently remarried Mrs. Carrie Brown. He described her as warm and kindhearted. "After having been without a mother for seven years, I was greatly pleased to find in her all the motherly devotion that she could have given me had I been her own son." She died in 1920, just before the Republican Convention in which Coolidge was nominated to be Vice-President. He took comfort that she knew he was being considered as a presidential candidate before her death. "For thirty years, she watched over me and loved me... and encouraged me in all my efforts." She was kind to him and he had great love for her. Women played an important role in Coolidge's life. His mother, stepmother, aunt and wife all showed him great love and kindness causing him to remark later "What men owe to the love and help of good women can never be told."
His sister Abbie attended The Black River Academy with him, but at fourteen became ill and had to return home. Coolidge returned to stay with her. She was ill less than a week when she died of what was thought to be an appendicitis. He said "The memory and charm of her presence and her dignified devotion to the right will always abide with me." He said he was very lonely at school without her.
Sometimes on Saturdays, Coolidge worked piece work in a toy factory making wagons, where he learned more than just how to make them: "Since my wages depended on my own ability, skills and industry...I was beginning to find out what existence meant."
Coolidge noted that his school life was not free from pranks. In wonderful style, he wrote about how the janitor who was starting the furnace, heard a loud bray from one of the classrooms. He said "His investigation disclosed the presence there of a domestic animal noted for his long ears and discordant voice. In some way during the night, he had been stabled on the second floor. About as far as I deem it prudent to discuss my own connection with these escapades is to record that I was never convicted of any of them and so must be presumed innocent."
Coolidge graduated in 1890 planning to attend Amherst College in Massachusetts. Prior to entering there, his father took him to the dedication of the Bennington Battle Monument. Fifteen thousand people heard President Benjamin Harrison speak that day. He was the first president Coolidge had ever seen. In that era, long before the advent of radio and television, few people had ever seen or heard a president. Coolidge wondered how it must have felt to have had all that responsibility, never suspecting, as he said, that many years later he would find out for himself.
Comments about Coolidge, probably in his earlier years there, by fellow students were that "a drabber, more colorless boy I never knew than Calvin Coolidge when he was at Amherst. He was a perfect enigma to all of us." He was a "very retiring, silent individual with few friends."
Coolidge's education at Amherst provided a further moral underpinning that influenced his personal and public life. He said "We were taught that the end does not justify the means and that expediency as a working principle is bound to fail. The only hope of perfecting the human relationship is in accordance with the law of service, whereby men are not so solicitous about what they shall get, as they are about what they shall give." Mandatory attendance at chapel was required daily. Coolidge later remarked: "If attendance at these religious services ever harmed any of the men of my time, I have not been informed of it. The good it did I believe was infinite." Coolidge graduated cum laude from Amherst in 1895. His son John also graduated from there during the Coolidge presidency.
THE LAW AND OPPORTUNITIES
After graduation, Coolidge went to Northampton, Massachusetts because it was the nearest courthouse. He read in the law with the firm of Hammond and Field and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1897. He remarked that shortly after he had begun his tenure with the firm, he received a letter from the Honorable William P. Dillingham, to whom he had written previously, who said he would take him into his office at Montpelier. Coolidge said had that letter reached him sooner he would have taken that position and his whole life probably would have been changed. (Winston Churchill remarked many years later that all of a man's fortune is often affected by seemingly insignificant events.) It was one of the earlier, yet far from the last cases, of where "luck" seemed to present itself, as he moved through life to positions of higher responsibility.
In 1898, Coolidge opened a law practice in the Masonic Building, on Main Street in Northampton, with Mr. Ralph Hemingway. The building still stands. (A small, ornate elevator goes to the second floor where his office was located.) Despite Coolidge's silent and austere public persona, his secretary for three years there said he was "the kindest man she had ever known." In 1898, Coolidge was elected a City Councilman in Northampton. Coolidge expected only to serve out his life as a country lawyer, "But it was decreed to be otherwise. Some Power that I little suspected in my students days took me in charge and carried me on from the obscure neighborhood of Plymouth Notch to the occupancy of the White House."
Coolidge boarded on Round Hill Road, across the street from the Clarke Institute for the Deaf. He was introduced to Miss Grace Goodhue, who taught there, by Mr. Robert Weir who remarked "having taught the deaf to hear, perhaps Miss Goodhue might cause the mute to speak!" Coolidge had the reputation throughout his life of being a man of few words, difficult to engage in conversation. A reporter once asked his father when he first became quiet. He said "he wasn't even a noisy baby."
Coolidge felt he and Grace were meant for each other. "She recognized the shy nature behind my manner and gave me great reassurance." It is one of the greatest gifts a woman can give to a man.
They were married in her parents’ home in Burlington, Vermont on October 4, 1905. They lived temporarily at the Hotel Norwood, subsequently renting a home, at 5 Crescent St., from Professor T. Everett Brady of Smith College.
In 1906, they rented half a two family house at 21 Massasoit Street, where they lived most of their lives, hand carrying their possessions several blocks when they moved.
Their son John was born there in 1906, the same year Coolidge was elected to the Massachusetts General Court (the equivalent of a state House of Representatives). Coolidge said John "was real white and born hungry and had a mouth like mine they say." Calvin Jr. was born in 1908.
In the evenings, Coolidge read history and literature, sipped green tea and had a glass of beer on occasion. Over the mantelpiece, he had a quotation which presumptively he thought more people ought to pay attention to: "A wise old owl sat in an oak, The more he saw, the less he spoke, The less he spoke, the more he heard, Why can't we be like that wise old bird?"
Grace Coolidge was a caring and devoted mother. A glib book salesman once talked her into paying eight dollars for a book called "Our Family Physician" which she thought would help her in treating childhood illnesses. She left it on the parlor table for Coolidge to see. When he saw it, he wrote inside the flyleaf "This work suggests no cure for a sucker."
MAYOR, STATE SENATE, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Coolidge was elected Mayor of Northampton in 1909 in a close election and was reelected in 1910. When he took office, he had to write to his father and ask for some money. His mayor's salary was only $800 and he and Grace needed to buy clothing for public events they had to attend. He said one of the highest honors he ever received was the confidence his friends and neighbors placed in him by electing him their mayor.
In 1910, the fifteenth reunion of his Amherst class was held. One of his classmates said "Say Cooley, I hear you're Mayor of Northampton. How did you ever get that job? He told him "Oh just by keeping my mouth shut, so they wouldn't know what a fool I was."
In 1911, he was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and was re-elected twice. In his third term in 1914, he was elected presiding officer of the Senate. At that time, he gave a speech which some said summed up his political philosophy which came to be known as his "Have Faith in Massachusetts" speech. In part he said: "Do the day's work. If it be to protect the rights of the weak, whoever objects, do it. If it be to help a powerful corporation to better serve the people, whatever be the opposition, do that. Expect to be called a standpatter, but don't be a standpatter. Expect to be called a demagogue, but don't be a demagogue...Don't expect to build up the weak by tearing down the strong. Recognize the mortal worth and the dignity of man..."
In 1915, Coolidge was elected Lieutenant Governor and served for three years. "It was no secret that I desired to be Governor" he said.
From 1915 on, Mr. Frank Stearns, a wealthy Boston merchant was his frequent companion and loyal supporter. Coolidge said he was a valuable and faithful friend who never asked anything for himself or anyone else. Coolidge, who often created nicknames, dubbed Stearns "Lord Lingerie". He said people mocked him when he likened Coolidge to Lincoln. "He probably knew and understood me better than anyone else did...He often invited us to his home and helped us in many ways, but I cautioned him about his favors and generosity. I returned a check for $5000 he had given me with a note saying that I had everything we needed and were able to save something." Coolidge later gave Stearns a permanent suite at the White House. The press later labeled him as "Floorwalker of the White House". The President used him for a variety of lower level assignments and as an adviser, but his status did not rise to the status that Col. Edward M. House had held under President Wilson. (Although he had no official position or title, House helped Wilson draft the famous Fourteen Points, principles of a peace treaty to end World War I, worked with the Allies to gain their acceptance and participated at the Versailles Conference).
GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS
Coolidge was elected Governor in November of 1918. He emphasized the importance of law and order, highlighted by a speech he gave, where he said in part:
"Let Massachusetts continue to regard with the greatest solicitude the well being of her people. By prescribed law, by authorized publicity, by informed public opinion, let her continue to strive to provide that all conditions under which her citizens live are worthy of the highest faith of man... Government is not, and must not be a cold, impersonal machine, but a human and more human agency: appealing to the reason, satisfying the heart, full of mercy, assisting the good, resisting the wrong, delivering the weak from any imposition of the powerful. Massachusetts is committed to this, and will strive consistently for its complete realization... Industry must be humanized, not destroyed. It must be made an instrument not of selfishness, but of service. Change not the law, but the attitude of the mind. Let our citizens look not to the false prophets, but to the Pilgrims. Let them fix their eyes on Plymouth Rock, as well as on Beacon Hill. The supreme choice must not be to things that are seen, but to things that are unseen... The evil that some represent must be overcome by the good others represent. These ideas which are wrong... must be supplanted by ideas that are right. This can be done. The meaning of America is a power which cannot be overcome. Massachusetts must lead in teaching it."
Coolidge's speeches held the high moral ground. He wrote virtually all of them, including those during his presidency, one of the last presidents to do so.
Coolidge remained resolute in the face of adversity. During his term as Governor, there was a dispute between the streetcar and jitney drivers. He ordered the railroads to put the streetcars back into operation. The jitney drivers threatened to crucify him politically. He told them "Don't let me deter you. Go right ahead."
THE BOSTON POLICE STRIKE
The most historic event of his governorship was the Boston Police Strike. Police officers formed a union, which at the time was in violation of rules the officers had sworn to. Police Commissioner Curtis consequently dropped nineteen men from the force. This was followed by a walkout of unexpected proportion of over 1100 of the approximately 1500 officers. Civil disorder broke out in the city. Coolidge felt he should have called out the State Guard when the officers left their post, but the Commissioner did not feel it was necessary. Coolidge ordered them out later and the strike was broken. He said, "When the militia came with their muskets in their hands with bayonets fixed, there was little more trouble from disorder."
Union leader Samuel Gompers asked for reinstatement of the union policeman. Governor Coolidge then sent Gompers this message: "There is no right to strike against the public safety, by anybody, anywhere, anytime." All of the men who left the force to go on strike lost their jobs permanently: "Those who would counsel forgiveness join hands with those whose acts have threatened to destroy the government. There is no middle ground. Every attempt to prevent the formation of a new police force is a blow at the government. That way treason lies...Later I helped these men in securing other employment, but refused to allow them again to be policemen."
While Coolidge said he did not approve of any strike, he said he understood how the officers felt as they did, when they earned less than a streetcar conductor. He received 70,000 letters and telegrams praising him for his stand, including one from Democratic President Wilson, to him, a Republican Governor, congratulating him on his reelection: "I congratulate you upon your election as a victory for law and order. When that is the issue, all Americans stand together." Coolidge said "probably no other event in my career led to my subsequent nomination as Vice-President."
Visit The Woodrow Wilson House, WashingtonDC
Visit The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Museum, Staunton,VA
VICE-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION AND ELECTION
The Republican Convention to nominate a Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate was held in Chicago in 1920. Stearns promoted Coolidge's candidacy for the presidential nomination by distributing a book of his speeches entitled "Have Faith in Massachusetts". Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio was subsequently nominated for the top spot and Coolidge was named as the party's Vice-Presidential choice.
Visit The Harding Home and Memorial
While he was being considered as a lower tier candidate for the presidential nomination, Coolidge's selection as the Vice-Presidential nominee was virtually a miraculous, "deus ex machina" event. Others called it the "Coolidge luck". The party bosses had decided the Vice-Presidential spot was to go to Senator Irwin Lenroot of Wisconsin. Among other reasons, the delegates were resentful that the choice was being dictated to them. During one of the seconding speeches for him, on mention of Lenroot's name, one of the delegates shouted out "Not on your life!" Then an Oregon delegate, Judge Wallace McCamant, who it was thought was going to add support for Lenroot, was recognized, and proceeded to nominate Coolidge. Coolidge was subsequently elected as the candidate on the first ballot. Harding and Coolidge won the election on November 2, 1920, (Harding's birthday) over Democrats James Cox of Ohio and Franklin Delano Roosevelt of New York. It was the first election in which women could vote nationally for president.
Visit The Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum
Coolidge said later that it was a great advantage being able to first serve as Vice-President, gaining national experience before becoming President, because he said he was not gifted with intuition. He was the first Vice-President to ever attend Cabinet meetings, although he said very little. As Vice-President, Coolidge said he had time to read, think and study. He said he enjoyed presiding over the Senate, but it became boring after a while. He said the Senate had "but one fixed rule, subject to exceptions of course, which was to the effect that the Senate would do anything it wanted to do, whenever it wanted." He also commented that he never knew so much meanness existed, as he listened to in Washington.
He apparently wasn't too well known as Vice-President. One of the highlights of the Harding administration was the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments. Mrs. Coolidge was so late leaving the hotel for the Conference, she forgot her ticket. She told the doorman she was Mrs. Coolidge. He showed no sign of recognition and asked "What's your husband's first name?" "Calvin" she said. "What's his business?" the man asked. She said "He's Vice-President." The man said "Vice President of what?"
HARDING BECOMES ILL
Harding left for a trip to Alaska in June of 1923. Around that time, a number of scandals in the administration started to come to light. They involved people who had betrayed Harding's trust. (Coolidge said it caused Harding a great deal of grief. Harding was not involved in any wrongdoing himself, although his presidency is often ranked among the lowest in polls of presidential success, largely due to the scandals.)
In July, the Coolidges went to Plymouth Notch for their summer rest. The farm had no telephone. Harding became ill in Alaska and remained so when he got to San Francisco. On August 2nd, his condition was said to be improving and that "all danger was past"
DEATH OF THE PRESIDENT
At around midnight, a messenger brought a telegram to the Coolidge homestead saying President Harding had died. John Coolidge woke his son to tell him the sad news. Before he and Grace went downstairs, they knelt and prayed. Coolidge said he asked God to bless the American people and to give him the power to serve them. The Coolidges sent a telegram to Mrs. Harding expressing their condolences. Congressman Porter Dale, who was among those starting to arrive, expressed concern that the country was without a President. Coolidge asked his father if he was still a notary and when he said he was, asked him to administer the oath. Prior to doing so, in respect for this duty, John Coolidge went off and shaved.
The swearing in took place in the sitting room of the Coolidge home, the same room in which both his sister and stepmother had died, and adjoining the room in which his mother had died. At 2:47 AM by the light of an oil lamp on the center table on which lay a Bible, Coolidge and his father faced one another, in the presence of Mrs. Coolidge and several others, as John Coolidge administered the presidential oath to his son, making him the 30th President of the United States. (Coolidge did not place his hand on the Bible while being sworn in. It was not customary in Vermont or New Hampshire at the time to do so.) As one of the President's most famous biographers Claude Fuess said later, "Democracy has never had a finer triumph when great power was conferred under such plain surroundings."
Part of the statement Coolidge gave to the press on this occasion said: "Reports have reached me which I fear are correct, that President Harding is gone. The world has lost a great and good man. I mourn his loss. He was my Chief and my friend. It will be my purpose to carry out his policies, which he has begun for the service of the American people... I have faith that God will direct the destinies of our nation." Coolidge's father was asked later how he knew he could administer the presidential oath to his son. He said "I didn't know that I couldn't."
Aurora Pierce, the family housekeeper, slept upstairs during the swearing in. Coolidge had been asked whether she should be awakened, but he said to let her sleep, probably knowing she would have much to do in the morning, including cooking breakfast for extra guests. Her faithful care of the homestead for many years after, eschewing modern conveniences and change, helped to make the historic property highly representative of how it looked at the time the Coolidge family resided there. She died in 1956.
Coolidge was asked later if he thought he was up to the task of serving as President. He said "I think I can swing it." He said later "When a duty comes to us, with it a power comes to enable us to perform it", as other presidents who faced extraordinary challenges discovered. Prior to leaving to go to Washington, the Coolidges stopped to visit the grave of his family and his mother. He said it had been a comfort to be near her last resting place, even in the dead of night. "Some way, that morning, she seemed very near to me."
RETURNING TO WASHINGTON
Upon arriving in Washington on August 7th, the Coolidge’s went to their Willard Hotel residence to give Mrs. Harding sufficient time to leave the White House. Coolidge said "The nation was grief stricken. Everyone felt deep sympathy for Mrs. Harding. Her bearing won universal commendation. Her attitude of sympathy and affection towards Mrs. Coolidge and myself was an especial consolation to us."
A second swearing in by Supreme Court Justice A.A. Hoehling was held later in The Willard Hotel in Washington, before the Coolidges moved into the White House. Attorney General Daugherty had determined that Coolidge's father, as a state official, was only empowered to swear in officials in Vermont. No public notice of this ceremony was given, in deference to Coolidge's father. It was not made known until after his father's death.
JOINING THE CHURCH
On the first Sunday after reaching Washington, the Coolidges attended services at the First Congregational Church. Coolidge said "For the first time, I accepted the invitation to receive communion". The church considered this to be a sufficient profession of faith to vote him into its membership without the usual public profession, which Coolidge thought might be viewed as a pose. He said he derived great satisfaction from their belief in him and said "It would be difficult for me to conceive of anyone being able to administer the duties of a great office like the Presidency, without a belief in the guidance of a divine providence."
MOVING INTO THE WHITE HOUSE
The day they moved into the White House Coolidge told Grace "Now you run upstairs Mama." Then he spoke to the Head Usher Ike Hoover. He told him " I understand how things are around here. I want you to keep right on as you are... but one thing: I don't want the public in our family rooms on the second floor as much as they have been and I want things to be as they used to be -- before!" Coolidge felt the house should be more dignified and formal than it had been under a very open Harding when there was card playing upstairs and "The Dutchess"(Mrs. Harding), at Harding's request had been serving alcohol to Harding's card playing guests. The Coolidges served no alcohol at White House functions due to Prohibition.
A serious review of the Coolidge presidency and its governmental and political issues is best made by reference to historical sources mentioned on the "Resources" page in this website. Clearly, there are many other incidents and events beyond the scope of this narrow attempt to provide a broad overview of Coolidge's life.
Coolidge's life had been a continuous preparation for the presidency through a succession of public offices. A woman asked him if he had any hobbies. He said "Yes, holding office." He commented that a lot of people from Plymouth couldn't understand how he had gotten to be President -- "least of all my father".
Shortly after taking office, Coolidge wrote a letter to Mr. James Lucey, a shoemaker in Northampton. He told him "Not often do I see you or write to you, but I want you to know that if it were not for you, I would not be here. And I want to tell you how much I love you. Do not work too much now and try to enjoy yourself in your well earned leisure of age."
The President was average in stature, of slight to average build and had small feet (size 7 1/2). He had a sharply chiseled and extended nose, thin lips, a wide forehead and sandy red hair. He did not smile often, but more than he was given credit for. Someone once described him saying that he always appeared to be "looking down his nose to locate that smell which seemed ever to affront him."
Coolidge would not normally be thought to be an affectionate man. He publicly kissed his sons and his father, but not his wife. As he said once "The Coolidges never slop over." Those who knew him well said despite his outward reserve, he had great love for his wife, his sons and others who were close to him.
H.L. Mencken, the famous newspaperman, said Coolidge was "a darling of the gods...No other American has ever been so fortunate, or even half so fortunate."
A Boston friend of Coolidge's was quoted as saying that if the Republican ticket were elected and Coolidge became Vice-President, he wouldn't have taken the Presidency for a million dollars. When asked why he said "Because I would die in a little while. Everything comes to Calvin Coolidge in a most uncanny and mysterious manner." Indeed, two major events vaulted Coolidge to the Presidency, the national acclaim he received for the stand he took in The Boston Police Strike and his spontaneous nomination as Vice-President at the Republican Convention when it was all but predetermined that another man would be selected momentarily. However, luck has been defined as "where preparation meets opportunity." Coolidge had prepared himself, through experience and demonstrated character, to be ready at the right time.
Coolidge also clearly lacked the outgoing, hale-fellow, well-met character of many office seekers, yet he had great success at the polls. As he said, "To the people I seemed in some way that I cannot explain, to represent confidence."
Charles G. Dawes (1925-29)
Secretary of State
Charles Evans Hughes (1923-25) Hughes was a well known figure of the day and was the losing Republican candidate in the 1916 presidential election against Woodrow Wilson.
Frank B. Kellogg(1925-29) Kellogg is best known for his negotiation of the Kellogg-Briand Treaty outlawing war, one of the leading accomplishments of the Coolidge Administration.
Secretary of the Treasury
Andrew W. Mellon (1923-29) Mellon was a well known financier who also served in the same capacity in the Hoover administration.
Secretary of War
John W. Weeks (1923-25)
Dwight F. Davis (1925-29)
Harry F. Daugherty (1923-24) Daugherty was forced to resign in connection with The Teapot Dome scandal.
Harlan Fiske Stone (1924-25)
John G. Sargent (1925-29)
Secretary of the Navy
Edwin Denby (1923-24) Denby was forced to resign in connection with The Teapot Dome scandal.
Curtis Wilbur (1924-29)
Harry S. New (1923-1929)
Secretary of the Interior
Hubert Work (1923-1928)
Roy O. West (1928-1929)
Secretary of Agriculture
Henry C. Wallace (1923-1924)
Howard M. Gore (1924-25)
William M. Jardine (1925-29)
Secretary of Commerce
Herbert Hoover (1923-1928) Hoover resigned to run for the Republican presidential nomination.
William Whiting (1928-29)
Secretary of Labor
James J. Davis (1923-29)
Supreme Court Appointment
Harlan Fiske Stone (1925-41)
Chief Justice (1941-46)
In the January after he took office, in his first Annual Message to Congress, Coolidge spoke about the "colored people". He said "Numbered among our population are twelve million colored people. Under the constitution, their rights are just as sacred as those of any other private citizen. It is both a public and private duty to protect those rights. Congress ought to exercise all its powers of prevention and punishment against the hideous crime of lynching, of which Negroes are by no means the sole sufferers, but for which they furnish a majority of the victims." Coolidge had a strong moral and constitutional belief that all persons were entitled to equal protection under the law. While he is not known as a president who was a champion of civil rights, he did call attention to the rights of black Americans on a number of occasions in his annual addresses. It was probably not until President Truman's desegregation of the military many years later that forceful presidential statements were made in defense of these rights. Few, if any, such statements were made in the preceding Harding and Wilson administrations.
On one of Coolidge's many walks with Colonel Edmund Starling, of the Secret Service, Starling once described a man as a "fine colored gentleman". Coolidge corrected him and said he meant "a fine gentleman".
On another occasion, the President was having his portrait painted by the artist Ercole Cartotto. Someone came in during one of the sessions and was introduced to the artist, subsequently asking what nationality he was. Before Cartotto could answer, Coolidge told the questioner "American."
Coolidge, who had a narrow lip, said of Cartotto that he was greatly indebted to him. He said he was the only artist who didn't feel it necessary to create lips for him. Cartotto said as he gradually came to know the President, he found him to be humane, friendly, deliberate and balanced, solid as the granite of Vermont, and yet as gentle a human being, free from all frills and veneer, as one could meet.
THE TEAPOT DOME SCANDAL
Coolidge was greatly troubled by the report of a Senate committee on corruption by a number of President Harding's appointees. There had been secret leasing of the government's oil reserve lands. Government officials had received gifts and loans in exchange for the granting of the leases. (The Teapot Dome in Wyoming got its name from a rock on the land that looked like a teapot.) Coolidge said "If there has been any crime, it must be prosecuted -- no one will be shielded for any party, political or other reasons... if there is any guilt, it will be punished, if there is any civil liability, it will be enforced, if there has been any fraud, it will be revealed; if there are any contracts which are illegal, they will be cancelled. Every law will be enforced and every right of the people and the government will be protected."
Coolidge asked for resignations, and indictments and convictions followed. Teapot Dome became a symbol of government scandal and corruption. It was felt by some that the scandals would affect Coolidge's ability to be elected to a term of his own, but as he said "our strong stance against the corruption caused the country to have confidence in us and in the way the matter was handled."
Coolidge had a conversation with his Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover about the scandal and told him he had no patience for corruption. "There are three purgatories to which people can be consigned: to be damned by one's fellows, to be damned by the courts or to be damned in the next world. I want these men to get all three -- without probation."
SMILING, TALKING AND HUMOR
Coolidge had the reputation of not smiling much. There are many photographs of his smiling, but the press seemed to publish more of him looking serious. This view of him was given even more credence by a quote popularized by Teddy Roosevelt's daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth saying that Coolidge looked as if he had been "weaned on a pickle". While dubbed by the press and the public as "Silent Cal", Coolidge gave 520 press conferences during his presidency and delivered more speeches than most presidents. (Coolidge did often make terse statements, many of them humorous. A separate section of this website provides an extensive sampling of Coolidge humor.)
Press conferences with Coolidge were much different than those of today. Reporters pre-submitted written questions. Coolidge would then review them and answer only the ones he wanted to. Reporters were not permitted to quote him directly or to write any personality stories. He did not grant personal interviews. Mrs. Coolidge wasn't allowed to either. Reporters were also not permitted to note which questions the President chose not to answer. However, The Boston Globe noted that veteran correspondents felt "thus far President Coolidge is more communicative than any man, with the possible exception of Theodore Roosevelt, who ever sat in the White House." Coolidge clearly spent a fair amount of time answering reporters' questions. A group of them kept asking him about a certain foreign policy issue. He told them he had no comment to make about it. They kept persisting so he told them he wouldn't have any comments about any other matters either. And as he left the room, he hollered back at them "And don't quote me!"
Coolidge was not concerned about being misrepresented by the press: "I have often said that there is no cause for feeling disturbed at being misrepresented by the press. It would be only when they began to say things detrimental to me which were true that I should feel alarm."
GRACE AS FIRST LADY
Grace Coolidge was one of Coolidge's greatest assets as President. A well known writer of the day, Mrs. Frances Parkinson Keyes expressed great admiration for Mrs. Coolidge when she wrote: "She gave everyone a sense of ease and enjoyment because she was so richly endowed with love of life herself...Everybody liked her... She is the one woman in official life of whom I have never heard a single disparaging remark in the course of nearly twenty years."
Coolidge said the most effective way to deal with White House functions was to provide a capable Mistress of the White House. I have often been complimented on the choice of Grace, which I made over twenty five years ago... For over a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities and I have rejoiced in her graces... A man who has the companionship of a lovely and gracious woman enjoys the supreme blessing life can give. And no citizen of the United States knows the truth of this statement more than I."
DEATH OF CALVIN JR.
Coolidge was greatly affected by the deaths of those close to him: his mother, his sister, his stepmother, his son and subsequently his father. Some scholars have suggested that Coolidge was never the same after the death of his son and that it influenced his effectiveness and enthusiasm for the presidency.
In July of 1924, Calvin Jr. developed a blister on his right toe while playing tennis without socks with his brother John. He didn't say anything about it for several days, but when Dr. Boone the White House physician took a look at it, he knew the foot was in bad condition. Blood tests showed that he had a serious infection. On July 6th,he was taken to Walter Reed Hospital and many cures were attempted. As Calvin neared death, he thought he was leading a charge of his toy soldiers in battle. Then his body relaxed and he said "We surrender." Dr. Boone told him "No Calvin, never surrender." Then Calvin slipped into a coma.
Later, while Dr. John Kolmer was attending him, the wrong valves were opened on an oxygen tank, which resulted in a glass container's exploding. A few fragments struck the President with little effect, but a very large piece just missed the doctor's head.
At 10PM, Dr.Kollmer told Coolidge that Calvin was rapidly dying. Kolmer said Coolidge jumped from his chair and took Calvin into his arms and shouted "I will soon join you in the Great Beyond. Tell Grandmother." Then he placed a medallion of hers into his hands.
Kolmer said "It is commonly stated that President Coolidge is cold as ice, but I had the opportunity of seeing him in his hour of grief and so know quite otherwise. Indeed, it was the most touching and heartrending experience of my whole professional career."
Coolidge said "In his suffering, he asked me to make him well. I could not. When he went, the power and the glory of the presidency went with him... The ways of Providence are often beyond our understanding. It seemed to me that the world had need of the work he could have done. I do not know why such a high price was exacted for occupying the White House. If I hadn't had the office, he may never have died."
Calvin's body was brought back to the White House and placed in the East Room with an honor guard. After his wake was over, Coolidge came downstairs later in his dressing gown and stood by Calvin's casket and looked at him silently and gently stroked his head.
The next day when his casket was closed and he was being taken from the White House, Coolidge said to Grace: "They're taking our boy away Mama." He was buried in the cemetery in Plymouth Notch. Coolidge said the White House was never the same for him after that.
After Calvin died, the Coolidges found out another boy had referred to him as "first boy of the land." Calvin told him "I think you are mistaken in calling me that since I have done nothing. It is my father who is president. Rather the first boy of the land would be some boy who had distinguished himself through his own actions". Mrs. Coolidge framed the letter and hung it in her room.
Not long afterward, Richard Hall, the son of Edward Hall, died of polio at age nineteen. Coolidge wrote in Hall's copy of "Have Faith in Massachusetts: "To Edward Hall, in recollection of his son and my son, who have the privilege, by the grace of God, to be boys through all eternity." Subsequent to the Coolidges' personal tragedy, Coolidge made it clear that any young boy out at the White House fence who wanted to see him was to be ushered in.
Near the fifth anniversary of Calvin's death, Mrs. Coolidge wrote a poem called "The Open Door" which she submitted to Good Housekeeping magazine in the hope it would bring comfort to other mothers who had lost children. The poem received a great response. It appears in the "Grace and Calvin" page of this website.
John Lambert, who was the former president of the White House Correspondents Association, who had covered Coolidge from his days in Massachusetts’ politics, visited the President sometime afterward. Coolidge was seated at his desk when Lambert expressed his condolences. He said "I'm sorry. Calvin was a good boy" Coolidge turned his chair around slowly to face the South Lawn and looked toward the Washington Monument. He said "You know, I sit here thinking of it and I just can't believe it happened." Tears filled his eyes and ran down his cheeks. Lambert said at that moment, he wasn't the President of the United States, but a father overcome with grief by love for his boy. He said those brief moments seemed to bear the age of his years.
SEEKING HIS OWN TERM
In June of 1924,Coolidge was nominated as the party's presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Senator Lodge tried to block his nomination saying: "A man who lives in a two family house? Never!" Coolidge said he consulted with him later however and wrote that Lodge told him no one in the country had a chance of being elected who was comparable to him in character and ability.
GOVERNMENT OF COMMON SENSE
In August of 1924, upon his formal notification of nomination, Coolidge said in his acceptance speech: "It is well for the country to have liberality in thought and progress in action, but its greatest asset is common sense. In the commonplace things of life lies the strength of the nation. It is not in the brilliant conceptions and strokes of genius that we should find the chief reliance of our country, but in the home, in the school, and in religion... The people know the difference between pretense and reality. They want to be told the truth. They want to be trusted. They want a chance to work out their own material and spiritual salvation. The people want a government of common sense."
The words to Coolidge's campaign song, sung to a catchy melody, appear below:
"Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge"
In a quaint New England farmhouse on an early summer's day,
A farmer's boy became our Chief in a homely simple way,
With neither pomp nor pageantry, he firmly met the task,
To keep him on that job of his, is all the people ask.
So "Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" is the slogan of today,
Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" for the good old U.S.A.
A lot of politicians cannot do a thing but knock,
But Calvin Coolidge is a man of action and not talk.
So just "Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" in the White House four years more,
We have a chance to do it in the year of "twenty-four",
He's been tried, he's never wanting,
He is giving of his best,
So "Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" is our country's mighty test.
THE 1924 ELECTION
Coolidge and his running mate Charles Dawes easily defeated John W. Davis of the Democratic Party and Robert LaFollette of the Progressive Party. According to Coolidge's wishes, the inaugural was as low keyed as the President himself, consisting only of the President's swearing in, his inaugural address, and a shorter than usual parade. There was no inaugural ball, concert or banquet.
The President was sworn in by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft, the only man to have taken the oath himself and to have administered it to another. (He is also the only former President who served on the Supreme Court after leaving the presidency. Taft served in the presidency between Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.)
Visit The William Howard Taft National Historic Site
There is historical speculation that Harding may have planned to drop Coolidge from the ticket when he ran for re-election, and that perhaps Charles Dawes, a leading figure at the time, may have been named as Harding's Vice-Presidential nominee. Dawes was the first Director of the US Bureau of the Budget in 1921. He received The Nobel Prize in 1925 as the architect of the Dawes Plan, which reorganized German war reparations debt to the Allied nations, making it more possible for Germany to pay. His subsequent behavior however, including a highly strident, public berating of the Senate immediately following his swearing in as Vice-President, and the loss of a confirmation vote six days later of Charles B. Warren of Michigan for a seat on the Supreme Court, removed him from any serious consideration later as a presidential candidate. Dawes had left the Senate chamber to take a nap, not realizing that a vote on which he could have broken the tie to confirm Warren's nomination was being taken, because the vote had come earlier than he expected. As a result of this incident, "dawsing" was used as a term to refer to someone who had "fallen asleep at the switch".
The history of the presidency is replete with examples of many men who came close to being president, but whom the office eluded for one reason or another. When Prime Minister Disraeli of Great Britain ultimately achieved his high office he remarked that he had "climbed the greasy pole". Similarly the presidential pole has been equally as difficult to climb, even for those thought to have had the best chance of making it to the top.
Coolidge submitted Warren's name a second time, but it was soundly defeated. The President had difficulty having his appointments confirmed by the Senate throughout his administration.
After the election, a man came up to Coolidge and told him "I didn't vote for you." Coolidge said "Somebody did."
Coolidge's inaugural address on March 4th, 1925 was the first one ever heard on the radio. More people heard a president speak directly to them on that day than ever before. The President said in part: "Here stands our country, an example of tranquility at home, a patron of tranquility abroad. Here stands its government, aware of its might, but obedient to its conscience. Here it will continue to stand, seeking peace and prosperity, solicitous for the welfare of the wage-earner, promoting enterprise, developing waterways and natural resources, attentive to the intuitive counsel of womanhood, encouraging education, desiring the advancement of religion, supporting the cause of justice and honor among the nations. America seeks no earthly empire built upon blood and force. No ambition, no temptation lures her to thought of foreign dominions. The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with the sword, but with the cross. The higher state to which she seeks the allegiance of all mankind is not of human, but of divine origin. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of Almighty God."
These words emphasize how Coolidge viewed what the nation stood for at the time and are also thought to be a solid reflection of the belief system under which he operated.
One commentator has written "Probably nothing he said or wrote elsewhere so perfectly represents the Coolidge ideal and the Coolidge literary style, which in itself deeply reveals the man; a sentimentally aspiring man, full of good will, a man not without an eye to the political main chance, a man always considering the vote-giving group, shrewdly eloquent about accepted beliefs, never raising debatable issues, a good man honestly proclaiming his faith in a moral government of the universe."
The passage of time has revealed that the President's words still, in large part, represent what America stands for, but also shows digression from today. Coolidge's specific reference to the "intuitive counsel of womanhood" while viewed as a respectful mention at the time, implies that women were far less equal partners in decision making, than is the case today. Also, while it is not uncommon today to hear Presidents make reference to God, it is frequently done in more oblique and less doctrinal way. Coolidge gave many speeches during his political career. He called his speeches my "Works of Art". He said "I always knew there was some water in my well, but I had to pump to get at it. It is not a gushing fountain."
WHITE HOUSE VISITORS
Coolidge had to shake many hands. At the time, it was a custom to open the White House on New Year's Day for anyone who wished to shake hands with the President. In 1926, the Coolidges shook hands with 3250 visitors, difficult for us to imagine in this era of presidential security and heightened general security. (President William McKinley of Ohio had been assassinated in Buffalo,NY only twenty five years previously by a man in a similar receiving line. It was this incident that elevated Theodore Roosevelt to the Presidency, the youngest man ever to serve in the office. John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected to the office.) It is ironic that Coolidge, who was a highly private man, would be obliged through his duties to meet so many strangers.
The President had many famous visitors as well. A particularly interesting occasion was when Helen Keller, the country's most famous blind person for decades, and Anne Sullivan Macy, her teacher, visited, both well known today because of the play and movie "The Miracle Worker". Ms. Keller read from the President's lips by touching them as he said to her: "You have a wonderful personality, and I'm glad to talk with you."
SHALL WE DANCE
Wilson Brown, the President's naval aide, said after a reception in the White House, he and General Cheney were on their way downstairs when they remembered they needed to go back upstairs to get some details about the next day's events. As they turned back, they saw the President and Mrs. Coolidge,(like a scene out of "The American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning) thinking they were alone, dancing the minuet. There are few recorded observations of such instances during the Coolidge presidency.
DEATH OF JOHN COOLIDGE
On March 18, 1926, Coolidge's father died at age 81 in the house where he had sworn in the President.
After his father became sick, Coolidge had a direct phone line installed between the White House and his father's home and spoke with him every day. He knew his father was dying and wanted to bring him to Washington, but his father preferred to stay at home. He said, "When the doctors told me that he only had a few days, I started to visit him. When I reached home, he was gone. It costs a great deal to be President."
Like President Reagan, who served as President at a more advanced age, Coolidge had a reputation for sleeping quite a bit. He had the habit of going to bed early and usually took a long nap after lunch, sometimes on the office sofa. He slept about eleven hours a day. Reportedly he slept more after the death of Calvin Jr. due to depression over his loss.
Coolidge's early bedtime became well known. On one occasion, Coolidge and Grace attended "Animal Crackers", with Groucho Marx, at a Washington theater. When Marx came on stage, he looked directly at the President and said "Isn't it past your bedtime Calvin?" He usually rose about 6:30, had breakfast with Grace at 8:00, then exercised on the mechanical horse and took a walk. (The mechanical horse, along with other Coolidge artifacts, memorabilia and presidential papers, resides at The Forbes Library in Northampton.)
The President was walking with Senator Spencer of Missouri when the Senator motioned toward the White House and humorously asked "I wonder who lives there?" Coolidge said, "Nobody. They just come and go."
Colonel Starling of the Secret Service was a frequent walking companion of the President. Starling commented to him once that the lights in Secretary of the Navy Denby's office were still on at night, that he was a hard worker, frequently worked nights, and was an excellent man for the job. Coolidge told him "I wouldn't say that. I don't work at night. If a man can't finish his job in the daytime, he's not smart."
While the President was a man of high moral character, he also had occasional cases of simplistic thinking and crankiness. Another case involved Secretary of Labor Davis. Coolidge's secretary Ted Clark came in one day with some papers saying Davis wanted the President to read them and to tell him whether he agreed with his decision. Coolidge told Clark "I'm not going to read them. You tell 'ol man Davis that I hired him to be Secretary of Labor and that if he can't do the job, I'll get a new Secretary of Labor." The President was a strong believer in delegation. He said "in the discharge of the duties of the President, there is one rule of action more important than all the others. It consists in never doing anything that you can get somebody else to do for you... The corollary of this rule is that they must be entrusted to someone who is competent."
Coolidge biographer Robert Sobel has noted that it was a Coolidge characteristic to, "Find the right man, tell him what has to be done and step aside." As President, Coolidge had to delegate by making many political appointments. He said of them, "What we need in appointive positions is men of knowledge and experience who have sufficient character to resist temptation...It should be possible to choose a well qualified person wherever he can be found. When restrictions are placed on residence, occupation or profession, it almost always happens that some one who is found who is universally admitted to be the best qualified, but who is eliminated by the artificial specifications...The public service would be improved if all vacancies were filled simply by appointing the best ability and character that can be found. That is what is done in private business. The adoption of any other course handicaps the government in all its operations." Sometimes on his walks with Starling, Coolidge would mention how he talked to his mother. "I wish I could really speak to her. I wish that often."
Starling probably had one of the better insights into Coolidge's complexity: "He loved his wife deeply... He was of course a very sentimental man, and a very shy one. He loved a few people a great deal, and he was embarrassed about showing it. Gradually, as time went by, I found him to be so human and thoughtful that I came to the conclusion his outward reticence and aloofness were part of his protective shell."
Mary Randolph, the White House Social Secretary, said: "I never knew a man to be more interested in his wife's clothes than President Coolidge...He accompanied her on shopping trips. Nothing was too much for her. No expense was too great." He always gave her his opinion of her gowns. It was his one extravagance for a man known for his thrift."
In addition to being well known for his dour demeanor and silence, Coolidge was equally well known for his thrift. He checked and initiated all White House bills personally. He said expenses during his term averaged less than $1000 a month. He ordered unnecessary lights turned off (prefiguring LBJ), replaced paper cups with glasses and reduced the number of towels in lavatories from 175 to 88.
Around lunchtime one day, Coolidge asked Colonel Starling if he wanted a Vermont cheese sandwich, which was one of the President's favorites. He took Starling into the White House pantry and made a sandwich for each of them, being careful that each had the same amount of cheese. Coolidge said to him, "I'll bet no other President of the United States ever made cheese sandwiches fah ya". Starling told him that they hadn't and that it was a great honor. Then Coolidge said, "Yeah, and I have to furnish the cheese too."
When Coolidge arrived at a destination on the Presidential yacht, he would be greeted by a twenty-one-gun salute. He said it "wasted money using all that ammunition, play 'The Star Spangled Banner' instead".
The President once received a picture of a locomotive in an attractive frame. He said he didn't care much for the picture, but to "send it up to the house. Mama can use the frame."
The Cabinet tried to get him to increase spending on military aviation, but he said to them "Can't we just buy one airplane and have the pilots take turns?"
The President said he always felt "There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means...industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character."
One day when Coolidge was walking by a bank in Northampton with his sons, he stopped them in front of it and asked them to listen carefully to see if they heard anything. They said they couldn't. He told them "I just wanted to know if you could hear your money working for you." The President's son John mentioned this object lesson on saving and the power of compound interest in an interview not long before his death.
RESPECT FOR THE PRESIDENCY
During a Christmas vacation when John was home from school, he told his father he would be attending a tea dance that afternoon, that he'd be late for dinner and wouldn't have time to dress. Coolidge told him "You will remember that you are dining at the table of the President of the United States and you will present yourself at the appointed hour properly clothed." He said he did not require this because he was seeking any special treatment, but out of respect for the high office that had been entrusted to him. Mrs. Coolidge said Coolidge was a strong disciplinarian when it came to the boys and that he required prompt obedience, but ruled by direction and precept, rather than by force.
One of the biggest events to take place during the Coolidge Presidency was the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh. He left Roosevelt Field near New York City on May 20, 1927 and arrived outside Paris on May 21st. Thousands of cheering Frenchmen met his plane. He became a national hero overnight. In June of that year, Coolidge awarded him The Congressional Medal of Honor and The Distinguished Flying Cross. Lindbergh offered to take Grace flying, but the President wouldn't let her go. She did fly after his death. Coolidge was the last president never to fly.
THE BLACK HILLS
Shortly after meeting with the Lindberghs, the Coolidges spent most of that summer in South Dakota's Black Hills (Before the advent of air-conditioning, it was customary in these earlier times for presidents to spend substantial periods of time away from hot and humid Washington summers.) Before leaving, Grace bought a culottes hiking suit for the trails in South Dakota. She gave the President a surprise preview of it when they arrived. He told her "No member of the Coolidge family ever appeared in anything like that. Take it back where you got it."
The Democratic Governor of South Dakota, W.J.Bulow spent a long evening with Coolidge when he visited the Black Hills. Coolidge offered him a cigar, but Bulow demurred. He said he would chew tobacco instead and wanted to see if his aim was as good as it used to be. While the President was generally thought to be a man of not more than average intelligence, he clearly was above average, having graduated cum laude from Amherst and was widely read. Bulow said "I was surprised about the knowledge Mr. Coolidge had on all kinds of subjects...As the night wore on and he talked about so many different subjects, I thought about what the poet Goldsmith had said about the village schoolmaster, 'And still all the wonder grew that one small head could carry all he knew'."
TAKEN BY SURPRISE
On August 2, 1927 at the high school in Rapid City, South Dakota where he maintained a summer office, Coolidge handed out two inch slips of paper he had cut out himself to reporters at noon announcing "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." The announcement caused quite a shock. Wonderment was expressed that with his re-election virtually certain, why he would not wish to run again. When asked whether he had anything else to say about it, Coolidge said "No, that's all the news in the office this morning." Reporters persisted in asking him why he wasn't going to run again. Finally, he said, "Because there's no room for advancement!"
Coolidge had given no prior notice of his decision to Mrs. Coolidge . When she was told what he had said, she replied "Isn't that just like the man? He never gave me the slightest intimation of his intention. I had no idea." When Starling asked her what she thought about it, she said, "I have such faith in Mr. Coolidge's judgment that if he told me I would die at ten o'clock tomorrow morning, I would believe him." Naturally many thought it was strange the President hadn't let Grace know in advance, but it must not have bothered her very much for she commented to someone at the time, "I am rather proud of the fact that nearly after a quarter of a century of marriage, my husband feels free to make his decisions without consulting me or giving advanced information concerning them. I have made it my habit to refrain from making suggestions in regard to matters about which he is better informed than I and in which he has more experience...I also wouldn't want to influence his judgment at a time when he needed a clear head and would be free to act according to its dictates." While her reaction may have been thought to be unusual by the standards of the day, and surely by ours, Mrs. Coolidge's comments were a reflection of the times and the roles of First Ladies in an earlier era. This would change, of course, when Eleanor Roosevelt created an activist role for First Ladies.
Coolidge told someone earlier that no one could possibly realize how much he just wanted peace and privacy. He was also concerned about Mrs. Coolidge: "It's Mrs. Coolidge's health that bothered me. I didn't think she could stand much more of the Washington climate and the official life." Eight days later, in his first speech since his announcement, the President dedicated Mt. Rushmore talking about the merits of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt whose faces were being cut into the mountain principally by dedicated former miners of South Dakota under the training and direction of sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln.
WHY HIGH OFFICEHOLDERS SHOULD NOT STAY IN OFFICE TOO LONG
Coolidge made remarks around this time, which would benefit anyone holding high office to consider. He felt "a President should not only not be selfish, but he ought to avoid the appearance of selfishness. The people would not have the same confidence in a man that appeared to be grasping for office." "It is also difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are surrounded by worshippers... They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation, which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming arrogant or careless... the chances of having wise and faithful public service are increased by a change in presidential office after a moderate length of time... It's also a pretty good idea to get out when they still want you." The President also said, "It was my privilege, after seeing my administration so strongly endorsed by the country, to retire voluntarily from the greatest experience that can come to a mortal man. In that way, I believed I could serve the people who have honored me and the country which I love."
AFFECTION FOR VERMONT
In September of 1928, Coolidge revisited The Black River Academy in Ludlow. On September 21st, he made some now famous comments about his native state from the back of a train in Bennington:
"Vermont is a state I love. I could not look upon the peaks of Ascutney, Killington, Mansfield and Equinox without being moved in a way no other scene could move me. It was here that I first saw the light of day; here I received my bride; here my dead lie pillowed on the loving breast of our everlasting hills. I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union and the support for our institutions languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont."
On March 4th, 1929 Herbert Hoover, who had defeated New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, was sworn in as President. Coolidge said "We draw our presidents from the people. It is a wholesome thing for them to return to the people.
Visit The Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and Library
When his term was over, Calvin Coolidge joined former President William Howard Taft as the only other former living ex-president. When the train from Washington, which was to carry the Coolidges back to their 21 Massasoit Street home, arrived in Northampton 6000 people welcomed him home. (That beautiful train station still stands in Northampton, now the site of a popular restaurant. The station is within sight of, and a one minute walk from The Masonic Building, where Coolidge maintained his law office.)
Coolidge's neighbor in the other half of their duplex, Dr.F.W.Plummer, a high school principal, said Coolidge's temperament was the chief bar to knowing him. He said he had never heard anyone call him "Cal" and he couldn't conceive of anyone doing so, any more than he could anyone slapping him on the back. "He never steps down from his dignity." He said in the twelve years he had lived next door to him, he had never seen him in shirt sleeves." Plummer said he had come from a long line of Democrats, but he had voted for Coolidge. He said he was fully qualified by training and capacity for the office and had confidence in him as a shrewd man, who could not be taken in by politicians.
While few people called Coolidge "Cal" to his face in his adulthood, his father did and also at least one cousin. Coolidge was passing by when someone looked toward him, nodded slightly and said, "Cal." Coolidge responded simply by calling the man by his name as well. Then he said to his companion: "My cousin. Haven't seen him in twenty years."
Relative to "backslapping", apparently Coolidge's demeanor encouraged it about as much as George Washington's did. Someone once bet a man, that he would not go up to Washington, clap him on the back and greet him. The man took the bet, went up to Washington, touched him on the back and said "Good Morning George"! The man said Washington turned and gave him such a cold icy stare that nothing on earth could ever induce him to do it again.
Coolidge's biographer Claude Feuss said of him: "...the United States was not looking for either heroism or romanticism. What it wanted was plain ordinary common sense. Calvin Coolidge had character -- and in the long run character outlasts what is temporarily spectacular... It is fair to say that few presidents have been as popular in or out of office as Calvin Coolidge."
Coolidge published his autobiography in 1929, humbly stating his objectives for doing so: "I trust that in making this record of my own thoughts..., which necessarily bristles with the first pronoun, I shall not seem to be overestimating myself, but simply relating experience which I hope may prove to be an encouragement to others in their struggles to improve their place in the world."
THE STOCK MARKET CRASH
On Thursday October 24, 1929,not long after Coolidge's retirement, the Stock Market Crash took place. Some had urged Coolidge to take action about speculation in the market, but many economists and financial experts had assured him it was simply a natural expansion of business and that no emergency existed. (He did receive advice to the contrary as well, but the general view was that there was no impending problem.)
While this issue would clearly be viewed as a federal concern today, in the 1920's Coolidge and others viewed such matters to be within the purview of the state of New York, not a federal matter. Coolidge also noted that neither Governor Al Smith, nor his successor Franklin D. Roosevelt, chose to take any action, further indicating that no emergency was thought to be imminent.
It was said Mrs. Coolidge remarked, while the President was in office, that "Poppa smells a depression coming". Upon later questioning on the subject in an interview however, Mrs. Coolidge said she had never said it.
NEED FOR PEACE
In the pessimism of his concern for the nation during the Depression, Coolidge remarked "I now see nothing to give ground for hope --nothing of man. But there is still religion, which is the same yesterday, today and forever..."I do not know what is going to become of us." "I can find no place to rest my mind..."If I had pursued other courses from those which I did follow, results may have been different."
THE POLITICAL MIND
In his autobiography, Coolidge reviewed his development and his life and commented on the duties of the president. He indicated that presidents aren't always as powerful as people might think them to be.
One of the great contributions Coolidge has made to political philosophy is in his description of the political mind: "The great, but indirect, power of the government lies in the people. But the direct power the President has to deal with is vested in the political mind. In order to get things done, he has to work through that agency. Some of our presidents have appeared to lack comprehension of the political mind. Although I have been associated with it for many years, I have always found it difficult to understand. It is a strange mixture of vanity and obsequious attitude at one time, and a delusion of grandeur at another time, of the most selfish preferment, combined with the most sacrificing patriotism. The political mind is the product of men in public life who have been twice spoiled. They have been spoiled with praise, and they have been spoiled with abuse. With them nothing is natural, everything is artificial. A few rare souls escape and maintain a vision and a judgment that are unimpaired. They are a great comfort to every president and a great service to their country. But they are not in sufficient number so that the public business can be transacted like a private business."
THE MYSTERY OF BECOMING PRESIDENT AND OF THE PRESIDENCY
"The reason presidents have so much trouble with the Senate is that there isn't a man there who doesn't think he's better suited to be President than the President, and thinks that he might have been President, except for luck...In looking back on my being President, it remains a mystery why one person is selected for it and many others are rejected. Any man who has been placed in the White House cannot feel that it is the result of his own exertions or his own merit. Some power outside and beyond him becomes manifest through him. As he contemplates the workings of his office, he comes to realize with an increasing sense of humility that he is but an instrument in the hands of God...Like the glory of the morning sunrise, the presidency can only be experienced, it can never be told...It should be approached with simplicity and without pretentiousness. The dignity of the office is sufficient unto itself."
After President Coolidge retired, he went back into his law office with his former law partner Ralph Hemenway, whom he had turned the practice over to without compensation when he became Governor of Massachusetts. He didn't practice law, but just used the office as a place to handle correspondence and to meet people. Although they had been associated for eighteen years, Coolidge always addressed his former partner as Mr. Hemenway, and Hemenway referred to him as Mr. Coolidge.
Hemenway said, owing to the closing of a local bank, he was in need of funds: "To show his kindheartedness and liberality, I recall one occasion when I was in need of funds. I was seated at my desk deeply buried in thoughts that were not particularly cheerful, when Mr. Coolidge walked over to me and placed a slip of paper on my blotter. It was a check for $5000. (At the time, that was a substantial amount of money, more than enough to purchase a home.) As he turned to walk back to his office he said quietly 'And as much more as you want'...I have never had, nor do I expect to have, a more true and loyal friend than Calvin Coolidge."
Hemenway also remarked that Coolidge never seemed to be happy or contented after he returned from the presidency and Washington. Perhaps Ishbel Ross in "Grace Coolidge and Her Era" may have been correct in speculating about him, "He was never the forgotten man, but he was not being used in an advisory capacity and his loneliness grew. He suffered from the emptiness that comes to the President when he has stepped off his pedestal."
OUT OF CHARACTER
From many accounts, including the one just mentioned, Coolidge was a kind and sensitive man. Yet several purported incidents indicate on occasion, he could appear stingy and petty. These cases appear to be exceptions to his general nature. He once sent out the Secret Service to recapture some fish from a fisherman who had been fishing in a stream about two miles from the President's property. He said the man was fishing in "his stream" and that the fish were "my fish."
When he and Mrs. Coolidge visited the Black Hills, Mrs. Coolidge and the Secret Service agent who accompanied her, got lost on a walk and didn't return for several hours after the time she was expected back. According to the story, while Mrs. Coolidge returned quite jovial about the incident, the President didn't talk to her for a while and had the Secret Service man transferred.
Another rather glaring exception to Coolidge's usual prudence and appreciation of history was that after leaving office, he destroyed most of his personal papers from his years in the White House. We can only be left to speculate on what may have been in a potentially rich harvest of historical insight. Several plausible explanations might be that he thought they were of little value after the fact, or that he just wanted to distance himself in some way from a former life.
After the Coolidges moved back to Massasoit Street, Coolidge would often sit on the front porch and smoke a "see-gar". He said it was hard getting any peace because people would always stop and stare at him or would come up and want to talk. As a result, in May of 1930, the Coolidges moved into "The Beeches" a three story, brown shingled home with nine acres. The property was at the end of a cul-de-sac and offered privacy and beautiful views of the Connecticut River and the hills.
After leaving the Presidency, Coolidge said "I wanted to get into some kind of business, but I couldn't do it with propriety...Some of the offers that came to me would never have come, if I had not been President. People weren't trying to hire Calvin Coolidge, but a former President of the United States... I couldn't do anything that might take away from the Presidency, any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it." (Others of high reputation have faced similar circumstances. Robert E. Lee was offered very large sums of money by a number of companies to work for them. Lee asked one of them what he was to do and was told he didn't need to do anything, but associate himself with the company. In similar high character, he turned the offers down to become the President of Washington College for a small fraction of what the other positions offered. The institution was later named Washington and Lee after Lee's death.)
In June of 1930, the former President did start a daily newspaper column called "Thinking It Over With Calvin Coolidge", commenting on the affairs of the day. Coolidge did not have a presidential pension or a paid staff, so as he said "I had to take care of myself."
PRESIDENT OF AMHERST
Coolidge was asked to become the President of Amherst, but he told them "Easier to control a Congress than a college faculty." He had served as a life trustee of Amherst since his days as Vice-President. He also served on the Board of the New York Life Insurance Company and was President of the American Antiquarian Society.
Ishbel Ross noted "While Coolidge could be congenial, he disliked group conversation and when Grace's friends came in he would say "Glad to see you" and add "Going to take a nap."
Coolidge had long harbored a secret desire to travel, but his presidential duties and having to meet deadlines for his newspaper column prevented him from doing so. He and Grace visited Florida and New Orleans. His trip to the Crescent city was supposed to be kept confidential, but when they arrived, 5000 people met them at the train station.
The Coolidges also went West where Coolidge dedicated the Coolidge Dam in Arizona and stayed at the Hearst Estate in California. They also saw how they made "moving pictures" and had lunch with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks who had visited them previously at the White House.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
On one trip to New York City to attend a quarterly board meeting of the New York Life Insurance Company, Coolidge sent a note to Grace on December 8,1932 from The Vanderbilt Hotel where he was staying:
My dear Grace:
Tomorrow I shall go home. Unless you have not heard, send the car to Springfield at 8:40 Friday. I have thought of you all the time since I left home.
With much love,
A sweet expression of love, yet a formalism that wouldn't be expected by having a husband put his last name on a note to a wife he had been married to for twenty seven years.
Four days before his death, Coolidge had lunch with some old friends and told them: "I am too old for my years...I suppose the carrying of the responsibilities, as I have done, takes its toll. I'm afraid I'm all burned out, but I am comfortable."
Coolidge said he was sometimes criticized for harping on the obvious, but said if all the folks in the United States would do a few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our problems would take care of themselves.
TRIBUTE OF ALFRED E. SMITH
Former Governor Al Smith said of Coolidge:
"Mr. Coolidge belongs rather in a class of presidents who were distinguished for character more than for heroic achievement. His task was to restore the dignity and prestige of the Presidency when it had reached the lowest ebb in our history, and to afford, in a time of extravagance and waste, a shining example of the simple and homely virtues which came down to him from his New England ancestors... Calvin Coolidge was a salty, original character, an unmistakable home-grown native, American product, and his was one of those typically American careers, which began on the sidewalks, or on the farm, and prove to the youth of the nation that this is still the land of unbounded opportunity."
On that morning, Calvin Coolidge went into his office for about an hour. He felt tired and had his chauffeur drive him home. He saw Mrs. Coolidge on the way out to go shopping down on Main Street. He went down to the basement for a few minutes, and then purportedly fitted a few pieces into a jigsaw puzzle of George Washington, before going upstairs to shave for "supper". Mrs. Coolidge found him lying on the floor when she came back. He had a heart attack and died at the age of sixty.
One of Coolidge's biographers, William Allen White said "He who had lived aloof, died alone."
On learning that he died, the writer and theater critic Dorothy Parker said "How could they tell?"
His dear friend Jim Lucey, the Northampton shoemaker said "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. He was the best friend I had."
The President's funeral service was held at the Edwards Congregational Church in Northampton. President Hoover and many other dignitaries attended. Many people lined the streets. There was talk of closing businesses in Northampton that day out of respect for Mr. Coolidge, but it was decided that they would remain open since it was felt that Mr. Coolidge would not have wanted people to lose a day's income.
Mrs. Coolidge asked President Hoover not to come to the graveside service in Plymouth Notch because of the rain, hail and icy wind that day. President Coolidge was buried with his mother, father and son Calvin Jr. in the cemetery at Plymouth Notch. (The cemetery is close to the President Calvin Coolidge Historic Site.) There was no song or hymn at the graveside.
Mrs. Coolidge asked the preacher to read this verse by Robert Richardson at the graveside:
"Warm summer sun
Shine kindly here.
Warm southern wind
Blow softly here.
Green sod above, lie light, lie light.
Goodnight, dear heart Goodnight, goodnight."
Then taps were played.
President Coolidge left his entire estate of approximately $700,000 to Grace.
She engaged in community and charitable activities during the balance of her life.
Grace Coolidge died on July 8,1957, a few hours after the anniversary of the death of Calvin Jr.
When Grace died, The New York Herald Tribune said of them: "But what was austere and withdrawn in Calvin Coolidge, was warm and gracious in his wife. As symbols, they complimented one another, and as symbols they were necessary to an America which was spinning far too fast down the ringing grooves of change."
John Coolidge died in the year 2000. He had been a successful businessman and was a highly active and respected member of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation who worked to preserve his father's legacy.
Many of President Coolidge's words are as appropriate now as they were then. None more so than words he spoke in 1916, good to recall in times of national trial:
"The light that first broke over the thirteen colonies lying along the Atlantic Coast was destined to illuminate the world. It has been, and is, a struggle against the forces of darkness. Victory has been, and still is delayed, but the result is not in doubt."
EXPERIENCE COOLIDGE HISTORY FIRST HAND
Make presidential history come alive. Visit the President Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in beautiful Plymouth Notch, Vermont and enjoy the wonders of the State of Vermont. Combine it with a visit to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum at The Forbes Library, other Coolidge sites, and the many other interesting attractions and activities in entertaining Northampton and Western Massachusetts.
Visit The Forbes Library
A commemorative likeness of President Coolidge is located next to the beautiful, stately and accommodating Hotel Northampton. The Hotel is across the street from the restored, vintage Calvin Theater, steps from Main Street, and convenient to all the City’s attractions. The Hotel's Coolidge Park Cafe overlooks the small park where the memorial is located.
Visit The Hotel Northampton