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John Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Calvin’s father, John Calvin Coolidge Sr., was a general store owner and his mother, Victoria Josephine Coolidge, died when Calvin was young. Coolidge helped run the family store, but his dream was not to run the store, but rather, to become involved in politics. His father held many local and national offices, including senator, and he carried this intrigue into college.
Calvin Coolidge was accepted into the prestigious Amherst College, and there Coolidge became a member of the Republican Club. In this club he became a prominent figure and was respected by his peers. Coolidge graduated in 1895, then began studying law and passed the bar exam in 1897. He opened his own practice and started participating in local Republican politics.
Governor of Massachusetts
Coolidge experienced great success in the Republican Party rather early in his political career, starting with his election to the city council in 1900. He then won several local elections, and his major victory came when he was elected governor of Massachusetts. As governor, Coolidge was able to put down a large strike, which cast him into the national spotlight and earned him a spot in the 1920 presidential election.
Sworn in by his Father
At the Republican National Convention, he was not elected president but instead was picked to be Warren G. Harding’s running mate. The Harding-Coolidge ticket won the election of 1920, but Harding’s presidency was plagued with scandal, like the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal. On August 2, 1923, Warren G. Harding died because of a heart attack, and Calvin Coolidge was sworn in by his father, the only president to ever be sworn in by his own father.
The Roaring Twenties
As president, Coolidge was credited with restoring integrity to the White House and was given the nickname "Silent Cal" due to his dry sense of humor and his stoic demeanor. During his presidency he saw great economic prosperity during the Roaring Twenties and was able to get the 19th Amendment ratified. He also believed in small government and tax cuts. In 1924, the Republican Party decided to not choose Coolidge to run for reelection because he appeared worn out and exhausted after the death of his son.
After he left office, Coolidge actually took some responsibility for the stock market crash and openly admitted he “avoided the big problems” and said he could have prevented the Great Depression had he been more hands-on.