Posted on July 4, 2017
A president who has the same birthday as his nation?
That's pretty cool.
I've always thought it was pretty amazing that three of the earliest U.S. presidents died on July 4th (actually, two died the same July 4, in 1826 - Thomas Jefferson and John Adams), but I never realized that Calvin Coolidge was born in Vermont on this date in 1872.
Coolidge was in some ways a typical president - he was once a lawyer, he worked his way up in the Republican Party through Massachusetts state offices, including the governorship, and then became a Vice President of the entire nation.
That's a pattern we've seen a few times.
What's unusual is that he became president when a president died in office.
The 29th President, Warren G. Harding, was fairly popular as president but after he died of a heart attack in 1923, people found out about some scandals in his administration and about his marital affairs. Nowadays Harding has a pretty low rating among historians.
Coolidge has fared at least a bit better. He was a small-government conservative, and he was able to restore public confidence after all the scandals-and-affairs of Harding, and to retire from office with quite a bit of popularity.
Apparently he was a believer in racial equality. He mostly stayed away from controversial issues, so he was not a great leader on civil rights, but he avoided appointing white supremacists in his administration, he chose a VP running mate who attacked the KKK, he tried to make lynching a federal crime, he signed the Indian Citizenship Act, and he used important speeches as ways to promote civil rights and tolerance.
Coolidge was known for his quiet personality. He didn't say much, although he had a good, dry sense of humor. His nickname was Silent Cal. Here are a few of his quotes about being quiet - plus a great one that is commonly attributed to everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Mark Twain:
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