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President Calvin Coolidge: A Man of Few Words

It seems to me that among all presidents of this great United States, the one who has received the least amount of attention in regard to his uniqueness in office and out is Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president if Grover Cleveland’s second non-successive term is counted. As vice-president under President Warren Harding, Coolidge became president upon Harding’s death. Coolidge, a Republican, was elected president in his own right in 1924.
Sometimes referred to as “Silent Cal” because of his taciturn personality, his life and his presidency was marked with frugality and simplicity. Behind his dour countenance, was a dry sense of humor.
Coolidge was said to have gained the allegiance of voters with his faithfulness to duty, honesty, discretion and practical common sense. His rapport with his constituency is pretty well summed up in his unwillingness to stand out, and the public for the most part loved that. He said, “Let men in public office substitute the light that comes from the midnight oil for the limelight.”
As with all presidents he wasn’t liked in some quarters, especially for his attitude toward agriculture. But, historians note that he was highly regarded by the majority of American citizens. Stories were told of his frugality with words. It seems that a lady mentioned to him that she had bet she could get him to say more than two words to her. He replied, “You lose.” Due to his popularity he could probably have been re-elected president. But, true to his frugality of words, he issued this statement August 2, 1927: “I do not choose to run for president in 1928.”
An account of Coolidge’s becoming president goes like this. He went to bed at his usual time (9:00 p.m.) August 2, 1923, at his father’s house in Plymouth, Vermont. At 2:30 a.m. he was awakened and told President Harding was dead. He dressed and went downstairs to the parlor, which was lighted by a flickering kerosene lamp. He took the oath of office administered by his father a Notary Public. He is said to have promptly gone back to bed.
Calvin Coolidge was born at Plymouth, Vermont, on July 4, 1872. He died January 5, 1933 at Northampton, Massachusetts. He came from a long line of frugal, modest and unpretentious New England farmers and storekeepers. He never owned an automobile and until his retirement, he never owned a home. He once said, “There are two ways to be self-respecting: To spend less than you make and to make more than you spend.”
I was born March 22, 1938 during Franklin Roosevelt’s second term. So, I have lived under 13 presidents. Somehow, I feel I missed out by not living during the presidency of “Silent Cal.”