Biography of Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States

A Profile on "Silent Cal"

30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge

Library of Congress / Getty Images

Calvin Coolidge (July 4, 1872-Jan. 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the U.S. Coolidge was president during the interim period between the two world wars. His conservative beliefs helped make significant changes to immigration laws and taxes. During his administration, the economic situation in America seemed to be one of prosperity. However, the foundation was being laid for what would become the Great Depression. The era was also one of increased isolationism after the close of World War I. Coolidge is often described as unusually quiet, though he was known for his dry sense of humor.

Fast Facts: Calvin Coolidge

  • Known For: 30th American President
  • Also Known As: Silent Cal
  • Born: July 4, 1872 in Plymouth, Vt.
  • Parents: John Calvin Coolidge and Victoria Josephine Moor
  • Died: Jan. 5, 1933 in Northampton, Mass.
  • Education: Amherst College
  • Published Works: "The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge"
  • Spouse: Grace Anna Goodhue
  • Children: John Coolidge and Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

Childhood and Education

Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth, Vermont. His father was a storekeeper and local public official. Coolidge attended a local school before enrolling in 1886 at the Black River Academy in Ludlow, Vermont. He studied at Amherst College from 1891 to 1895. He then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1897.

Family Ties

Coolidge was born to John Calvin Coolidge, a farmer and storekeeper, and Victoria Josephine Moor. His father was a justice of the peace and actually delivered the oath of office to his son when he won the presidency. His mother died when Coolidge was 12. He had one sister named Abigail Gratia Coolidge, who sadly died at age 15.

On Oct. 5, 1905, Coolidge married Grace Anna Goodhue. She was well educated and ended up getting a degree from the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts, where she taught elementary-aged children until her marriage. Together she and Coolidge had two sons: John Coolidge and Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

Career Before the Presidency

Coolidge practiced law and became an active Republican in Massachusetts. He began his political career on the Northampton City Council from 1899 to 1900. From 1907 to 1908, he was a member of the Massachusetts General Court. He then became Mayor of Northampton in 1910. In 1912, he was elected to be a Massachusetts State Senator. From 1916 to 1918, he was the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and, in 1919, he won the Governor's seat. He then ran with Warren Harding to become Vice President in 1921.

Becoming the President

Coolidge succeeded to the presidency on August 3, 1923, when Harding died from a heart attack. In 1924, he was nominated by the Republicans to run for president, with Charles Dawes as his running mate. Coolidge was a small-government Republican, popular among conservative middle-class voters. He ran against Democrat John Davis and Progressive Robert M. LaFollette. In the end, Coolidge won with 54% of the popular vote and 382 out of 531 electoral votes.

Events and Accomplishments

Coolidge governed during a relatively calm and peaceful period between the two world wars. The Immigration Act of 1924 reduced the number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. so that only 150,000 total individuals were allowed in each year. The law favored immigrants from Northern Europe over Southern Europeans and Jews; Japanese immigrants were not allowed in at all.

Also in 1924, the Veterans Bonus passed through Congress despite Coolidge's veto. It provided veterans with insurance redeemable in twenty years. In 1924 and 1926, taxes were cut that had been imposed during World War I. The money that individuals were able to keep and spend helped contribute to the speculation that eventually would lead to the fall of the stock market and contribute to the Great Depression.​

Throughout 1927 and 1928, Congress tried to pass farm relief bills allowing the government to buy crops to support farm prices. Coolidge vetoed this bill twice, believing that government had no place in setting price floors and ceilings. Also in 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact was created among fifteen countries that agreed that war was not a viable method for settling international disputes. It was created by Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand.

Post-Presidential Period

Coolidge chose not to run for a second term in office. He retired to Northampton, Massachusetts and wrote his autobiography, which was published in 1929. He died on Jan. 5, 1933, of coronary thrombosis.

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Kelly, Martin. "Biography of Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Kelly, Martin. (2021, February 16). Biography of Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States. Retrieved from Kelly, Martin. "Biography of Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).