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A brief [b]iography of Calvin [C]oolidge, from cornerstone to capstone, the A.B.C (Volume 2) online

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Book. rR ,72 '


\...' •■'-





Republican Candidate for
Vice-President of the United States














Copyright 1!>20 by /
Robert M. Washburn /


Koston, Mass.


Calvin Coolidge, Jr.? Col. John C. CppUdee ; John Coolidge ; Mrs. Calvin Coolidge

• JuL 30

'920^ ©C1A574339


The Cornerstone.

Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way''

— Goidsmtth


A ^.An <;ave only the source of all great men, the

"About his cradle all was poor ^^^^^ 'J^J^JJ'J^ ,,„dcr years, from her death bed

love of a wonderful woman. When ^^e faded away nhs U V ^^ ^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^_

in humble poverty she dowered her ^^^ l^'^^J^^'^'^^^ ^^^
ance of a birthday which forgets the mother l^^n-0


Republican National Committee.

Publicity Department. New York City,

July 13, 1920.
The Roosevelt Club,

89 State Street, Boston.

Dear Sirs : —

Senator Harding has brought to ray attention your letter to
him, under date of July 3rd, with the enclosed tribute to
Calvin Coolidge. It is admirable, and will be used in the

Yours truly,

Scott C. Bone, Director.


The Governor.

Massachusetts has probably never seen a man prominent in
public life like him. No one thinks of opposing him, and his
great strength has come to him, he has not gone to it. He has
never been known to make the usual moves towards political
preferment. Most men impress one with trying to shape their
own political fortunes, he appears indifferent. He has been
content to rest his political hopes, if he has had any, on the
political duties he has had to perform, however humble. The
great reason for his political success is his own personality,
which appeals to one not for what it appears to be but for
what it is. Unlike most politicians, he does not play a part, he
is himself. He talks only when he has something to say, but he
listens respectfully whether there is something to hear or not.
He has humor. He can make a joke and enjoy a joke but
he does not use humor only to make for others amusement or
for himself votes. A nod from him upon the street is better
than an ebullition from another and even this is unnecessary
for he is known to be a democrat. He has come, surely, though
slowly. EA^en in his second year in the House, in 1908, he was
then not regarded as a leader because he had not been in
political life long enough to be known, and because things
went after him and not because he went after things. When
he was Chairman of the important Committee on Railroads, he
was a chairman who presided ; a man who made no unneces-
sary motions of mouth or of body. He never Avrote when
he could talk, and he never talked Avhen he could nod. He
was never opposed, personally ; he has no enemies in the usual
sense. Few men have fewer critics. He has had as intelligent
and as detailed a knoAvledge of the bills he had to pass on as
any man in the State House. He sees only one side of a ques-
tion, its merits. He has shown independence as a legislator,
and is as quick to stand by the Aveak AA'hen they are right as tO'

leave power when it is wrong. He has had as little newspaper
notice as any man of his prominence. This has been because
he has avoided it. His speeches have been unique and strong
for their thought and for their epigrammatic brevity. His
political strength is largely because the public have been curi-
ous to study the personality of the only man of that kind they
have seen. The more of the man they studied, the more of a
man they found. He has ambition, patience, tenacity, and
self-control, qualities which enable one to stand before kings.
It is not a common sensation for the electorate to be able to
exercise its option in the men they honor, to ask for a man
rather than simply to have to take him. As Lieutenant Gov-
ernor he has been loyal to the Governor to a degree too seldom
found among his predecessors. His life has enabled him to
know and to understand all sorts of men, for he has been of
them. These men made him Governor, for they liked him,
for his originality, his modesty, his democracy, and his
ability. Most men are content to be honored by the office
they seek. He gives a dignity to the many high honors which
have seemed naturally to come to him. He is more of an asset
to public office than public office is an asset to him. He is a
character exceeded by none in interest for study, still incom-
plete, probably always incomplete. When, pursuant to a fine
tradition, in early January, 1919, the cannon upon the Com-
mon proclaimed to the people of Massachusetts that the hills
of her sister state, Vermont, had given them a chief executive,
those who would learn to live knew that merit and fortune
sometimes walk hand in hand, and that the Commonwealth
had, again, the sort of Governor she ought to have, measuring
up to her high ideals. Such a man is Calvin Coolidge.


[This is an intimate biography. More than this, it is an honest
biography, to be recognized by those of his own household, by whom,
on^y, is a man known - Paint me as I am, every hne, every scar.' ]

Looking Backward.
The First Days.

On July 4:, 1872, 48 vears ago, in the columns of a news
sheet "The Blueberry," which succeeded occasionally ni mak-
ing its appearance in\he town of Plymouth, Vt appeared the
laconic entry, ''Born, to Victoria J. Moor and John Calvm
Coolidge, a man child, John Calvin, Jr." These tidings of
o-reat ioy did not cause banks to close or business to be tied
up for that was a country of farmers only, and those that
read it were tillers of the soil and not seers. However, the lit-
tle strano-er with a foresight, sound and characteristic, had
cliosen, as the day of his advent, one which the neighbors were

bound to celebrate. ^ i r -+1.0

The child, an auburn-haired, smooth-faced babe with a
proboscis somewhat attenuated, was as unique, as he lay m
his cradle, as he was to be as a man. He seemed troubled. 1 he
atmosphere of ambition enshrouded him. He seemed restless
and anxious for change and for progress. The baubles which
divert and stimulate the prosaic young, seemingly, had no
charm for him, nor did anything which tender hearts or wise
heads could plan. He lay in his new bed and cried, and when
he tired of crvins^ he wept, and then he cried again. All this,
apparently, with deliberation, and for ^ P^i'P^^^.^-/'' /!>.''
means to 'an end. For the first effort of the chdd, and the
man has been always, not to play, but to think.

A mother, solicitous through unselfish love, sat by his side,
intent upon bringing him peace; and a father, with the more
selfish purpose of sleep. The family physician bent over the
crib with that rural versatility which had familiarized him
Willi the whole gamut of bodily afflictions, from rheumatics to
melancholia. Noted psychologists, too, were added to the
throng, not alone for the advancement of medical science but
with the hope of solving a problem which seemed to baffle ail.

These all followed his infant gaze as it swept the plain
walls of that Vermont farm house. They watched his eyes as
they rested and became riveted upon the only decoration in
that room, a portrait of that Great Liberator of the Dutch, of
the low lands of Holland, a Prince of Orange and of Nassau,
William the Silent. And they gave it to the child.

Then peace came to that household, and to its mother.
The father slept. The general practitioner went his way,
and the noted specialists returned to the great centers. And
the child studied the face and the features of the portrait,
and then, placing the end of one of his small fore-fingers
upon the mouth of that great prince, and the other upon one
of his ears, he, too, was content and happy, and he, too, slept,
and peace overwhelmed that small house and that small

And those that sat about the child construed the lessons of
what they had seen to be : — first, that he, too, would leave
the hill country of his birth and live close to his adopted
meadow lands along the banks of the Connecticut ; second,
that he fastened the hopes of the political success that was to
be his, upon the determination not to talk but to listen, not
upon the power of speech but upon the possibilities of silence.
From that hour, he then became, and has since continued,
Calvin the Silent. ^


He has a personality, like liis ideal, Abraliam Lincoln, unique in
American politics.

In the opinion of such men as Judge John C. Hammond, of North-
ampton, in whose office he studied ; and Melvin O. Adams and Alfred
Hemenway, of Boston, the latter an uncle of his former law partner,
he has a fine legal mind.

A pre-eminent characteristic, is his power of intelligent, condensed,
epigrammatic expression.

His followers have a loyalty, expressed, after the nomination, In
the w(»rds of a young college graduate, that he "was with Coolidge
'till the bench broke.' "

When he was Chairman of the Committee on Railroads, an Anti-
Corporation lawyer having finished his argument, asked him if he
could retire. Imperturbably. he replied, "Yes, unless you are willing
to remain, to protect the Committee from these railroad lawyers,




'"A youth, Avho bore, 'mid snow and ice,
A banner, with the strange device,
'Excelsior.' "

A story of patience — the story of the pendulum, one tick at
a time — the story of the ladder, one round at a time — no

Born, July 4, 1872, Plymouth, Vermont.

Son of John C. Coolidge and Victoria J. Moor.

Ancestors, settled in Watertown, 1630. '^'

Victoria J. Moor Coolidge, died 1885.

Carrie G. Brown Coolidge, step-mother, who did much to
make Calvin Coolidge, died 1920.

Public Schools, Plymouth, Vt.

Black River Academy, Ludlow, Vt.

St. Johnsbury Academy, Vt.

Amherst College, A. B., 1895. Cum laude. Grove oration.

Senior Year, 1st Prize (open to all colleges). Essay, ''Prin-
ciples, Revolutionary War."

Removed to Northampton, 1895. *^

Studied law with Hammond & Field, Northampton.

Admitted to Bar, 1897.

Practicing lawyer, at one time, as Coolidge & Hemenway.

City Council, 1899.



City Solicitor, 1900-1901.

Clerk, Courts, Hampshire Co., 1903. (Months.)

State Representative, 1907-1908.

Mayor, 1910-1911.

State Senator, 1912-1915.

President of the Senate, 1914-1915. (Unopposed.)

Lieutenant-Governor, 1916-1918.

Governor, 1919-1920. (By the largest vote, ever, 1919.)

Nominated, Yice-Fresident, June 12, 1920, 9 P. M.

\\ Formal notification at Northampton, July 27, 1920.

itJoVv^ Honorary Degrees, LL.D., Amherst, Tufts, Williams
-t^^JK-^ 1919; Bates, University of Vermont, Wesleyan, 1920.
ly ^^fj^Author, ''Have Faith in Massachusetts."

wM v* Married Miss Grace A. Goodhue, a teacher, in North-

V ^O* ampton, of Burlington, Vt., October 4, 1905. Two

^ *^ sons : John, 13 years ; Calvin, Jr., 12 years.

His family are members, Edwards Congregational Church.

The Governor has two rooms at the Adams House, Boston,
numbered 178 and 9. He votes in Northampton, where he
has one-half of a double, wooden house, at 21 Massasoit St.,
where his family generally is. His salary, as Governor, is
$10,000 a year. His house rental is $32 a month, recently
raised from $30. He lives within his income. His landlord,
it is understood, is ready to evict his other tenant for any
one who can prove that he has been, is, or will be Vice-Presi-
dent of the United States.

Father: — John C. Coolidge, Plymouth, Vt. Merchant and
farmer. Ex-State Senator. Ex-State Representative. Col-
onel on Staff of Former Gov. W. W. Stickney. His only
other child, Abbie, died in 1889, at the age of 13.

Father-in-law : — Andrew I. Goodhue, Burlington, Vt.
Steamboat Inspector.

(iThis biography is invaluable for reference because of the facts in this Chapter


Capacity Seizes Opportunity.

Bv " Norman."

" Under the law. I hereby call on all the police of Boston, who ^a- loyally ^^^^^
in a never-to-be-forgotten way remained on duty. *° ^f -J'" *^^B^:,'f;T^""
my duty, the restoration and maintenance of order m the C.ty of Boston.

The Boston Police Strike September 1919-His High Tide.



Nominated for Vice-President.

June 12—1920.

With a spontaneity unexcelled in convention history.

Forty-eight years old less 22 days — one year for each star in

the flag.


March 4—1921-1929.

From President, Massachusetts Senate; to President, U. S.


First Vice-President, Member of Cabinet, Ex-officio by



March 1—1929-1937.

1 The length of these chapters is explained by the difficulty of
securing more exhaustive material.


The Weak Links in his Armor.



The Secret.
Uncommon Sense.

Political Philosophy.

"Do the day's work. If it be to protect the rights of the
weak, whoever objects, do it. If it be to help a powerful
corporation better to serve the people, whatever the opposition,
do that. Expect to be called a stand-patter but don't be a
stand-patter. Expect to be called a demagog-ue but don't be
a demagogue. Don't hesitate to be as revolutionary as science.
Don't hesitate to be as reactionary as the multiplication table.
Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.
Don't hurry to legislate. Give administration a chance to
catch up with legislation.

"We need a broader, firmer, deeper faith in the people —
a faith that men desire to do right, that the Commonwealth
is founded upon a righteousness which will endure, a recon-
structed faith that the final approval of the people is given
not to demagogues, slavishly pandering to their selfishness,
merchandising Avith the clamor of the hour, but to statesmen,
ministering to their welfare, representing their deep, silent,
abiding convictions.

"Statutes must appeal to more than material welfare.
Wages w^on't satisfy, be they never so large. Nor houses;
nor lands; nor coupons, though they fall thick as the leaves
of autumn. Man has a spiritual nature. Touch it, and it
must respond as the magnet responds to the pole. To that,
not to selfishness, let the laws of the Commonwealth appeal.
Recognize the immortal worth and dignity of man. Let the
laws of Massachusetts proclaim to her humblest citizen, per-
forming the most menial task, the recognition of his manhood,
the recognition that all men are peers, the humblest with the


most exalted, the recognition that all work is g'lorified. Such
is the path to equality before the law. Such is the foundation
of liberty under the law. Such is the sublime revelation of
man's relation to man — Democracy." From Inaugural Ad-
dress to Massachusetts Senate.

"I am not a candidate for President. I am Governor of
Massachusetts, and I am content to do my only duty, the
day's work as such."


"If you are asked, if I am a candidate for the Presidency,
tell the truth."

"I have never been hurt bv what I have not said."

At three o'clock on the afternoon following his first elec-
tion as Lieutenant-Governor, when most successful candi-
dates were easily congratulated in public places, he was found,
alone, in his room at the Adams House, sitting by a window
opening into an airshaft.

In these days, the typical candidate, who has reconciled
his mind to holding high public office, continues to pursue the
voter. He effusively simulates a desire to share his cross. He
seeks to locate the strawberry-mark which identities the long
lost brother. As against him, the personality of Calvin Cool-
idge presents a marked, restful and delicious contrast. He has
never forgotten, that, if one would have the respect of others,
he must respect himself. He has taught the voter to recog-
nize the value of pursuing what is not pursuing him.

' ' Although I am . Coolidge 's friend, and have been for
years," he said, "I did not really understand him, until
about a year ago. One day he came in here, and, after
sitting where you are for the longest time, he said, out of a
clear sky : ' Do you know, I 've never really grown up ? It 's
a hard thing for me to play this game. In politics, one must


meet people, and that's not eas}- for me.' I expressed as-
tonishment. ' No, ' he went on, ' it 's been hard for me, all my
life. When I was a little fellow, as long ago as I can remem-
ber, I would go into a panic if I heard stranger voices in the
house. I felt I just couldn't meet the people and shake
hands with them. Most of the visitors would sit with mother
and father in the kitchen and the hardest thing in the world
was to have to go through the kitchen door and give them a
greeting. I was almost ten before I realized I couldn't go on,
that wa}^ And by fighting hard I used to manage to get
through that door. I'm all right with old friends, but every
time I meet a stranger I've got to go through the old kitchen-
door, back home, and it 's not easy. ' He was silent for a long
time after that. Just sat looking out of the window. Then
he went away without another word. He's never mentioned
the subject since. Nor have I, but I think I can say I under-
stand Calvin Coolidge now. Does it help to explain him to
you ? ' '

Courage, his great qHalification. Law and mrler, his great


(The only literature, of this sort, in political history.)


Western Union Telegram.

September 13, 1919.
Mr. Samuel Gompers, President,
American Federation of Labor,
New York City, N. Y.

Under the law the suggestions contained in your telegram
are not within the authority of the Governor of Massachu-
setts but only of the Commissioner of Police of the city of
Boston. With the maintenance of discipline in his depart-
ment I have no authority to interfere. He has decided that
the men here abandoned their sworn duty and has accord-
ingly declared their places vacant. I shall support the Com-
missioner in the execution of law and maintenance of order.

Calvin Coolidge, Governor.



Western Union Telegram.

Sunday, Sept. 14, 1919.
Mr. Samuel Gompers, President,
American Federation of Labor,
New York City, N. Y.

Keplying to your telegram. I have already refused to re-
move the Police Commissioner of Boston. I did not appoint
him. He can assume no position which the Courts would up-
hold except what the people have by the authority of their
law vested in him. He speaks only with their voice. The
right of the Police of Boston to affiliate has always been
questioned, never granted, is now prohibited. The sugges-
tion of President Wilson to Washington does not apply to
Boston. There the police have remained on duty. Here the
Policemen's Union left their duty, an action which Presi-
dent Wilson characterized as a crime against civilization.
Your assertion that the Commissioner was wrong cannot
justify the wrong of leaving the City unguarded. That fur-
nished the opportunity, the criminal element furnished the
action. There is no right to strike against the public safety
by anybody, anywhere, any time. You ask that the public
safety again be placed in the hands of these same police-
men while they continue in disobedience to the laws of Mas-
sachusetts and in their refusal to obey the orders of the Po-
lice Department. Nineteen men have been tried and re-
moved. Others having abandoned their duty their places
have under the law been declared vacant in the opinion of
the Attorney General. I can suggest no authority outside
the Courts to take further action. I wish to join and assist
in taking a broad view of every situation. A grave responsi-
bility rests on all of us. You can depend on me to sup-
port you in everj^ legal action and sound policy. I am equally
determined to defend the sovereignty of Massachusetts and to
maintain the authority and jurisdiction over her public offi-
cers where it has been placed by the Constitution and Laws
of her people.

Calvin Coolidge, Governor.


The Capstone.


To several thousand neighbors, at Plymouth, Vt., July 15, 1920:

" Vermont is my birthright. Here, one gets close to nature,
in the mountains, in the brooks, the waters of which hurry to the
sea ; in the lakes, shining like silver in their green setting ; fields
tilled, not by machinery but by the brain and hand of man. My
folks are happy and contented. They belong to themselves, live
within their income, and fear no man."

He has never played, boy or man ; marbles, base-ball, golf,
anything. His only avocations have been the gratification of an
almost instinctive philosophical sense with the best books ; a love
of nature, and walking. Apparently, he has ordered his life



" Here's to the pilot who weathered the storm."

No man has lived unless he has forgotten himself, in the wor-
ship of a God, a great man, a good woman, or a big purpose. In
this spirit, is this biography written.

This recognition of Calvin Coolidge, all too meagre, yet lives
out the spirit of those wise words of his to the Massachusetts
Senate, when he was first elected President,






for its Members.

Edited by
R. M. Washburn
Notification Day







Online LibraryMass.) Roosevelt Club (BostonA brief [b]iography of Calvin [C]oolidge, from cornerstone to capstone, the A.B.C (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 1)