Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

  • Ranked #35: Coolidge was appreciated when he was president. However his policies eventually led to the great depression. Tragically, Coolidge seem to lose interest in his job after his son died which left the office enfeebled during his last years as president.
  • Summary: He was a quiet guy. So much so that he was known as Silent Cal to his contemporaries. He was considered shy, distant, subdued and self-sufficient. He had very few friends. Despite the fact that he was a quiet person, he was a highly visible leader in the sense that he held press conferences, spoke on the radio and was at one time one of the most photographed people in the world.
  • Bio: He was the kind of guy that, if he borrowed money, he would pay it back - every single penny - quickly. In the case that he should send someone out to run an errand, he would expect his change back and would complain if it didn’t happen right away. He was often tired and was known to sleep at least nine hours each and every night and still take a two hour nap in the afternoon. He enjoyed having his head rubbed with petroleum jelly every morning and would continue wearing the jelly in his hair all day long.
    Coolidge was a very odd person. He was the kind of boss, (even while in the White House) that would press the desk buzzer, (to summon his aides) and then hide - either to play a practical joke or perhaps to make sure his subordinates were working. Either way, you would think he had more important things to do. He was even known to ring the doorbell of the White House and hide; you know, just like that little 8-year-old prankster in your neighborhood that you never liked. For recreation, he would dress up like a cowboy, (chaps and all) and ride a mechanical horse, yelling like he was on a carnival ride.
    He became President after the death of Warren Harding in 1923. The very next year, he got elected President, although he hardly made an effort to campaign. I think America at the time was a little fatigued from the activist presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, on top of the recent world war, so they wanted a more laid-back character in the White House. Coolidge delivered. He hardly imposed himself on Congress or the American people at all. He believed in small government, low taxes and reduced regulation of business. He instituted “trickle-down” economics. All of this was a recipe for what was known as the “Roaring 20s” until their was a stock market crash in 1929. He pretty much left foreign affairs in the hands of his cabinet.
    I think Coolidge lost a lot of heart and even became severely depressed when his son, Cal Jr. died. The teenager developed an infection from a blood blister on his foot suffered while playing tennis on the White House lawn. It was said that President Coolidge lost interest in his job following that tragedy and decided not to run for re-election in 1928, which would have been his election to lose, he was such a sure bet. Most people believe his presidency changed dramatically after his son’s death.
    Coolidge was well liked and even admired during his tenure in office. However, the Great Depression seriously did damage to his popularity, since his policy decisions were blamed for it. During the years just before the Depression, he had refused to provide aid to farmers, causing thousands of banks in the Midwest and South to close down. His lack of interest in foreign affairs was also thought to have contributed to the rise of Nazi Germany. Not until the 1980s did Coolidge get any recognition, when Ronald Reagan praised his political style and hands-off leadership.
    On January 5, 1933, right after lunch, Coolidge died in his bedroom, where he had retired for his customary 2-hour nap.
  • Pros: Cleaned up the corruption from the Harding Administration. Signed the Native American Citizenship Act. Heavily supported Civil Rights and Anti-lynching laws.
  • Cons: Did nothing to regulate the credit bubble that directly led to the Great Depression. Signed a law that banned immigrants from Mexico, Japan and southern/eastern European nations.
  • Born: July 4, 1872, Plymouth, Vermont
  • Died: January 5, 1933 (aged 60) Northhampton, Massachusetts
  • Term:August 3, 1923 to March 3, 1929 (Assumed term / 1 term)
  • Political Party: Republican
  • Religion: Congregationalist
  • Education: Amherst College (graduated 1895)
  • Marriage: October 4, 1905, to Grace Anna Goodhue (1879–1957)
  • Children: John (1906–2000), Calvin (1908–1924)
  • Career: Lawyer
  • Vice President: Charles G. Dawes