Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933) became the thirtieth president of the United States after President Warren G. Harding died suddenly. Coolidge’s term took Americans through the roaring ‘20s and ended a year before the Great Depression.
The Early Years
Coolidge was born John Calvin Coolidge on July 4, 1872, in Vermont. His father ran the post office and a general store. His mother died when he was just 12 years old.
Coolidge’s political career started in 1898 when he was elected to the Northampton, Massachusetts city council. He served in a number of other political positions in the state, including as governor. He gained recognition and while he served as governor when the Boston police force went on strike and riots broke out.
After restoring order, Coolidge refused to let the striking officers to go back to work. He told the labor leader that “there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.” In 1920, the Republican National Convention chose him to run as vice president on Harding’s ticket.
In the White House
Coolidge became president on August 3, 1923 after Harding died in office. The new president immediately went to work trying to fix the scandals of Harding’s administration. He investigated the Teapot Dome oil-lease issue, which sent the secretary of the interior to prison. His quick actions restored faith in government to the American people and soon he earned the nickname “Silent Cal” for his no-nonsense approach and polite manner. When he ran for re-election in 1924, he won easily.
During the Roaring Twenties, Americans were enjoying life and spending money. The economy seemed to be doing really well. When election time came around again in 1928, Coolidge didn’t run for re-election. He returned to Northampton and busied himself writing his memoirs and contributing pieces to magazines.
In less than a year after he left the Oval Office, the stock market crashed, and America entered the Great Depression. He admitted to friends that he was partially to blame and that he’d spent his presidency “avoiding the big problems.” Five years after retiring, Coolidge died of a heart attack on January 5, 1933, at the age of 60.