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(John) Calvin Coolidge

governor president harding national

Coolidge, (John) Calvin (1872–1933), 30th president of the United States. From a farming community in Vermont, Coolidge was taciturn, cautious, and conservative—qualities that made him popular in the aftermath of U.S. involvement in World War I.

Early life

Coolidge graduated from Amherst College, studied law in Northampton, Mass., and was admitted to the bar in 1897. In 1905 he married Grace Goodhue. They had two sons, John and Calvin.

State senator and governor

Active in local Republican politics, Coolidge's rise was rapid. He was a representative in the Massachusetts legislature in 1908, mayor of Northampton in 1910, a state senator in 1911, president of the state senate in 1914, lieutenant governor in 1915, and governor of Massachusetts in 1918. He achieved national prominence in his first year as governor when he used the state militia to break a strike by Boston police. At the 1920 Republican national convention, he was named vice president on the ticket headed by Warren G. Harding.


President Harding died in office in 1923, and Coolidge assumed the presidency, carrying on Harding's policies of free-market capitalism and tax cuts. In 1924 he easily won reelection over Democrat John W. Davis and Progressive candidate Robert M. La Follette. Following his dictum that “the business of America is business,” Coolidge reduced the national budget and debt, and maintained high tariffs to protect U.S. industry. His public positions tended to fuel the stock-market speculation that finally led to the crash of 1929. But privately, Coolidge was apparently worried about the unchained speculation, which may have accounted for his decision not to run for reelection in 1928. He retired in 1929, a few months before the beginning of the Great Depression. He died in Northampton in 1933.


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