Calvin Coolidge is generally remembered as our most laconic President, to the point that most jokes about him revolve around the silence of "Silent Cal." But the President of Amherst College, while conferring on Coolidge an honorary Doctor of Laws, praised him for teaching the lesson of "adequate brevity."
Before he went to Washington as Vice President, and then succeeded to the Presidency, Coolidge was the 46th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1916-19), and then the Bay State's 48th Governor (1919-21). In those years, he spoke and wrote frequently. A favorite topic, according to the editors of the first edition of this volume, were "the fundamental principles of sound community life which cannot be stated too emphatically or too often. Few public men of to-day have shown a finer combination of right feeling and clear thinking about these principles, with a gift for the pithy expression of them, than has Governor Calvin Coolidge."
Those editors continued, "It is a time when all men should realize that, in the words of Governor Coolidge himself, 'Laws must rest on the eternal foundations of righteousness'; that 'Industry, thrift, character are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil.' It is a time when we must 'have faith in Massachusetts. We need a broader, firmer, deeper faith in the people,—a faith that men desire to do right, that the Commonwealth is founded upon a righteousness which will endure.'"
(John) Calvin Coolidge, Jr., was born in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, on July 4, 1872. After graduating Amherst College, he began practicing law in western Massachusetts, and opened his own office in 1898. That same year, he won his first election, to the City Council of Northampton. Two years later, he was elected City Solicitor for two years. In 1903, he became the clerk of courts for the county, and in 1904, he lost his only election (a race for a seat on the Northampton school board). In 1907, he was elected to the first of two terms in the state House of Representatives, and then returned home to serve as mayor of Northampton (1910-12). Then he was elected to the State Senate, and in 1914, he was elected President of the State Senate. In 1915, Coolidge was elected Lieutenant Governor with Samuel W. McCall, and in 1917, he was elected to succeed McCall as Governor. Coolidge was re-elected in 1919, and in 1920, the Republican National Convention nominated him for the Vice Presidency on Warren G. Harding's ticket. Coolidge was the 29th Vice President, and when Harding died on August 2, 1923, while on a speaking tour in California. Harding, visiting his family home in Vermont, was informed of the President's death by messenger, and his father, a justice of the peace, administered the oath of office to his son (the only father to do so) in the early morning hours of August 3rd, making Calvin Coolidge the 30th President. Coolidge went on to win his own term in the election of 1924, and left office at the end of the term, in 1929. In retirement, he returned home to Northampton, published his autobiography, and wrote a syndicated newspaper column called "Calvin Coolidge Says". He died on January 5, 1933, and was buried in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.
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