Calvin Coolidge had an appropriate birthday for a future president; he was born on the Fourth of July. As the son of a Vermont general store owner, he would shy away from strangers who came to his father’s shop. He remained distant and uncomfortable in social gatherings for the rest of his life.
Coolidge was visiting his father when he was awakened by the news of President Harding’s death. As Harding’s vice-president, he now had to lead the country. Since his father was a notary public, he performed the oath of office for his son.
Once president, Coolidge promoted the interests of big business. He believed “the more a man makes, the more he can pay his workmen.” Businesses were especially productive during the Coolidge administration. For the first time the middle class could afford to buy items like automobiles and washing machines.
His decisions on social issues were primarily negative; he upheld a strict immigration policy and believed the government should not help the poor. Yet after the scandals of the Harding administration, people admired his honesty. They also liked the fact that the economy was doing well.
Coolidge had many personal flaws. He was reluctant to speak at or even attend social gatherings, and when he did speak, what he said was often tactless. Fortunately for guests, his flaws were offset by the graciousness of his wife.
Though “Silent Cal” seemed like a cold fish to the outside world, Coolidge loved his family. He was devastated by his son Calvin’s death. He said “If I had not been President he would not have raised a blister on his toe…playing lawn tennis on the South grounds…which resulted in blood poisoning…When he went, the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him.”
Coolidge’s economic policies while in office would later inspire the administration of Ronald Reagan.