As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), 30th President of the United States
For us, peace reigns everywhere. We desire to perpetuate it always by granting full justice to others and requiring of others full justice to ourselves. Our country has one critical principle to maintain in its foreign policy. It is an American principle. It must be an American policy. We attend to our own affairs, conserve our own strength, and protect the interests of our own citizens; but we recognize thoroughly our obligation to help others, reserving to the decision of our own judgment the time, the place, and the method. We realize the common bond of humanity. We know the inseparable law of service. – State of the Union Address, December 6, 1923
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont on July 4, 1872, the only president to be born on Independence Day. Coolidge’s family had deep roots in New England, with his earliest American ancestor having emigrated from England around 1630. His great-great-grandfather was a military officer in the Revolutionary War.
Coolidge attended Black River Academy and then Amherst College. At his father’s urging, he moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, to take up the practice of law. He became a country lawyer, and practiced transactional law, believing that he served his clients best by staying out of court.
Coolidge became involved in politics when he campaigned locally for presidential candidate William McKinley. His hard work earned him a membership on his party’s committee. Soon he won election to the City Council of Northampton. Six years later, he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he voted for such matters as women’s suffrage and the direct election of senators. Continuing his upward move, he was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate where he served for just one year before running for Lieutenant Governor of the state. Three years later, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts.
At his party’s 1920 Convention, most of the delegates were selected by state party conventions, not primaries. As such, the field was divided among many local favorites and Coolidge was one such candidate. Warren G. Harding was the presidential nominee; and, unexpectedly Coolidge found himself nominated for vice president. The election went in their favor.
In August 1923, President Harding died while on a speaking tour in California. Coolidge was in Vermont visiting family, in a home which had neither electricity nor a telephone, and received word by messenger of Harding’s death. It is said that Coolidge dressed, said a prayer, and was administered the oath of office in the family parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp. The next day, he journeyed to Washington, and a justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia administered the oath to him, as the original oath in Vermont had been administered by a notary public. He finished serving Harding’s term, and then was re-elected President. His term ended March 4, 1929.
After his presidency, Coolidge retired to his Northampton home, “The Beaches,” where he became a local fixture. He died suddenly of a heart attack at his beloved home in January 1933. He is buried beneath a simple headstone in Notch Cemetery, Plymouth Notch, Vermont.
Coolidge was married to Grace Goodhue and they had two children. He listed his faith as Congregationalist.