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Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933)

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0Calvin Coolidge (1872–1933)

Coolidge’s rectitude and old-fashioned virtues provided welcome relief from the Harding scandals, while also offering the public a reassuring counterpoint to the wild cultural changes of the 1920s.

At Amherst College, Coolidge astounded classmates by constantly seeking ways to live more cheaply. He was personally kind and generous, but he was frequently moody and had few close friends. Even after he became a successful attorney, he used a party-line phone and refused to buy a car because it was too expensive.

Coolidge was generally ignorant of history and political theory, but he loved classical languages and sometimes translated Latin literary works into English. He had a malicious sense of humor and loved to play practical jokes like ringing for White House servants and then hiding from them. His poker-faced silence was the subject of much commentary and humor. When writer Dorothy Parker was told that Coolidge had died, she said, “How could they tell?”

Quote: “There are two ways to be self-respecting: to spend less than you make, and to make more than you spend.” (1925)

REFERENCES: Hendrik Booraem, The Provincial: Calvin Coolidge and His World (1994); Robert Ferrell, The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (1998).

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