PictureJohn C. Coolidge as a Young Boy
Calvin Coolidge graduated from Amherst College in 1895, and in 1898 he opened his own law firm. For the next 10 years, Coolidge practiced law and dabbled in local politics, holding various positions over the years. In 1906, Coolidge was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he served for six years before being elected to the Massachusetts State Senate. In 1919, he was elected governor of Massachusetts. 

At the Republican National Convention in 1920, Coolidge was nominated to run alongside Harding as the candidate for Vice President. While in office, Coolidge was an active Vice President and was the first to attend Cabinet meetings with the President. President Harding died on August 2, 1923 and Coolidge was sworn in mere hours later. For the remainder of Harding's term, Coolidge did little to change the Harding administration or the policies they were backing. He believed that the people had elected Harding, and they wanted Harding's people and policies. Coolidge opted to run for re-election in 1924, and on November 4th, 1924, he won the election with 54% of the popular voted and 382 electoral votes.

"Keep Cool and Keep Coolidge" - 1924 Campaign Slogan
Picture30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
While Coolidge was in office, the middle class was growing and most people were experiencing a sense of prosperity and growth during the period known as the "Roaring Twenties." However, Native Americans were not experiencing the same growth and Coolidge saw a problem with this. He signed the Indian Citizenship Act in 1924, which granted citizenship to all American Indians and allowed them to keep their tribal lands. Prior to the Indian Citizenship Act, an American Indian was not considered a U.S. citizen unless they sought citizenship. When the law took effect, 125,000 American Indians became legal U.S. citizens.

Coolidge also formed the Committee of One Hundred, which was designed to examine and improve American Indian reservations and all related federal programs. The Committee discoved that conditions on reservations and the quality of federal programs wer lacking, and wrote the Meriam Report to inform Coolidge of their findings. Coolidge then began working on steps to improve the situation. When he left office in 1929, he passed the project on to President Hoover, who continued Coolidge's work resulting in improvements to healthcare and education on American Indian reservations.

PictureGreat Mississippi Flood of 1927
The Great Mississippi Flood hit the Gulf Coast in 1927, submerging 27,000 square miles of land along the river and killing 246 people. It is considered the worst natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast, second only to Hurricane Katrina. Some tributaries set record-high water levels that have yet to be broken. 

Coolidge was slow to provide government support or relief. He felt that visiting the flooded regions would be a waste of time and Federal dollars, as he could not do anything to stop the flooding. He did not want the Federal government to be saddled with the cost of flood control, and as a firm supporter of small government, he believed that property owners should carry most of the financial burden. On the other hand, Congress wanted to see legislation that would give the Federal government control of managing floods and the areas impacted by them.

Eventually, Congress drafted the Flood Control Act of 1928, which authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a system of levees to control flooding and construct channels to manage excess water and prevent future flooding. While Coolidge was privately opposed to the bill and refused to take credit for its drafting or effectiveness, he did sign it into law on May 15, 1928.

PictureGrace Coolidge
Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879 in Burlington, Vermont. She attended the University of Vermont, graduating in 1902. While at school, she founded a chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. After graduation, Grace took a job as a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf, where she taught lip reading. 

In 1903, Grace and Coolidge met outside the boarding house where she was staying, and by October of 1905, the two were married. During Coolidge's rise to the White House, Grace attended various political and social events, using her naturally chatty and charming nature to help her husband climb the ranks. After Coolidge was elected, she proved to be quite the hostess, planning many events over the course of her husband's Presidency. Many say that the two were a perfect pair for Washington. Grace was social and outgoing while her husband was quiet and reserved, and they balanced each other quite well. When Calvin passed away in 1933, Grace went back to her work with the deaf, and also did volunteer work for the Red Cross.

Calvin Coolidge, a Republican from Massachusetts, was President from 1923-1919. Coolidge believed in small government and reduced the size of many programs during his Presidency. He was also a supporter of citizenship and increased rights for Native Americans.
PictureThe Coolidges Attend a Garden Party
President Coolidge was a quiet man by nature, preferring silence to conversation. This earned him the nickname, "Silent Cal," a name that stuck with him long after leaving office. His wife, Grace, was quiet the opposite. Being a devoted husband, Coolidge frequently attend various social gatherings with his wife. While she stood beside him talking with guests, Silent Cal would just smile. As his time in office continued, people began to turn his silence into a bit of a game, placing bets on how many words they could get out of him in a visit.

Lena Tomaszek, 
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
 


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