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"How do they know?"
—Dorothy Parker on being told of Coolidge's death
Sworn in by his father, a Justice of the Peace, late at night, on the Coolidge family bible, after hearing of Harding's death, John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (1872 – 1933) may have represented the real return to normalcy; one of his slogans was "Keep Cool With Coolidge." He was popular in his day, but due to his lack of charisma he's not remembered much now. Most people remember Prohibition and the rest of The Roaring Twenties instead. If they do remember him, it is for his legendarily taciturn temperament, which earned him the nickname "Silent Cal". Like most old-fashioned New Englanders, he never used twenty words when one would do the trick, and never used ten words when a simple nod would suffice. This also translated to his philosophy of governance, which was to do as little as necessary, on the grounds that 90% of impending problems would solve themselves before they ever became serious (a philosophy that made him, reportedly, the favorite modern President of Ronald Reagan). Partially as a result of this hands-off philosophy, he has been described as being, historically, more relevant as a source of amusing anecdotes than as a president.
His son, Calvin Coolidge Jr., died of septicemia after a blister on his foot became infected. He had been playing tennis in the White House gardens while wearing new shoes without socks. This actually probably had a lot to do with his inaction during the presidency, as Coolidge, like two presidents before him, was never quite the same after his son's death.
He is the only American President whose birthday is July 4.
Calvin Coolidge in fiction
- Mr. Burns of The Simpsons mentions having had a friendship with Coolidge.
- Crimson Skies. Coolidge is President of Columbia, the bastion of the former federal government.
- Appears in one episode of Histeria!, with the famous "you lose" incident (casting Pepper Mills as Dorothy).
- The school in Up The Down Staircase is named after Coolidge.
- Singin in The Rain: "I've got more money than Calvin Coolidge! Put together!"
- He found a clue leading to a treasure in National Treasure: Book Of Secrets. He had it photographed and destroyed.
- Coolidge himself is from both the wrong century and the wrong country to appear in Lost in Austen, but the "you lose" incident makes it in, transferred to Mr. Darcy.
- In Ozy and Millie, when Llewellyn is on the campaign trail, he says something about how the reporters "must have found the photographs of me and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge with all the whipped cream."
- A novel, Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, features a Chinese protagonist who sees Coolidge as the ideal Confucian leader.
- In Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191, he gets elected President of the USA in a landslide as a Democrat, unseating the incumbent Socialist Hosea Blackford as the Depression hit during his term. However, he dies before he can be inaugurated, with the presidency passing to his Vice-President, Herbert Hoover.
Tropes that describe Coolidge
- Alliterative Name
- Beyond the Impossible: He won the election for his second term without campaigning, he let his Vice-President handle that. Let us repeat that, he won the election without appearing on the campaign trail once, which makes him the greatest politician in American history by default.
- And he won in a landslide, too! Link.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: The whole "You lose" incident.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: For Vermonters, Calvin Coolidge's "Brave Little State of Vermont" speech is this. It is now inscribed upon the wall of the Vermont State House.
September, 1928: "Vermont is a state that I love. I could not look upon the peaks of Ascutney, Whittier and Mansfield without being moved in a way that no other scene could move me. It was here that I first saw the light of day; here that I received my bride. Here my dead lie buried, pillowed among the everlasting hills... If ever the spirit of liberty should vanish from the rest of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people in this brave little State of Vermont."
- Deadpan Snarker: "You lose."
- The Quiet One: There is a whole host of stories and jokes about how taciturn he was; the most famous is the one listed among the quotes. Among others were the following:
- While Vice-President, on being asked his opinion of the many fancy formal state dinners he was forced to attend.
"Gotta eat somewhere."
- His entire speech in thanks for having received a ceremonial rake made of "oak" wood. It should be noted that the public official who gave him this rake gave a long-winded speech in praise of the sturdiness and strength of oak, and the great symbolism of giving an oaken rake.
- He was very well educated, which led to the quip that he "could be silent in five languages."
- Once his wife Grace was sick and couldn't join him for church, so he went alone. Later:)
Grace: "What did the reverend speak about?"
President Calvin Coolidge confessed that he was so shy it was an ordeal to fulfill his duties to people. He recalled that as a small boy he could be in a panic when he heard strangers in the kitchen of his home and knew that he must go into the kitchen and meet them. “I am all proper with pals,” Coolidge said, “however each time I meet a stranger I’ve got to undergo the previous kitchen door again home, and it is not easy.”
- Tsundere: No, really. His fits of rage didn't exactly involve busting a mallet out of Hammerspace (in fact they were quite quiet), but there certainly wasn't any doubt to be had that they happened.
- The Voiceless: Not really, but he was pretty much the personification of the Laconic.