Wednesday, August 3, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2029


Plymouth Notch, Vermont (JFK+50) In the early morning hours of August 3, 1923, ninety-three years ago, Vice President Calvin Coolidge, visiting his family home here at Plymouth Notch, was awakened by a knock on his bedroom door. The Vice President's father, John Coolidge, Sr.*, had some very bad news. President Warren G. Harding was dead.

A special telephone line was quickly set up so that the new president could speak with Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes.  Hughes told Coolidge that his swearing-in ceremony must be witnessed by a notary.  Calvin's father, a notary public, would do the job.  Amity Shlaes writes...

"By kerosene lamplight, before a small group that included his wife and Porter Dale**, a congressman...a new United States president was sworn in by his father."

The brief ceremony was performed at 2:30 a.m. local time.

The new president appeared on the front porch of his home at 7:20 a.m. prepared for travel.  He first paid a visit to his mother's grave, and then took the regularly scheduled 9:35 train out of town and into history.

Calvin Coolidge completed Harding's term and won election on his own in 1924.  President Coolidge successfully led the United States through most of the rest of the Roaring Twenties.  He was not, however, known for his words or his oratory.  Coolidge was dubbed "Silent Cal."  Among his best known statements are, "The business of America is business," and "I do not choose to run in 1928."

The Miller Center's website, American President, however, includes a line from President Coolidge's Inaugural Address of March 4, 1925 that, although not well known, remains impressive ninety-one years later...

"Because of what America is and what America has done, a firmer courage, a higher hope, inspires the heart of humanity."

*John Calvin Coolidge, Sr. (1845-1926) was born in Windsor County, Vermont.  He became a farmer, teacher & store owner.  JCC served in the Vermont House of Representatives 1872-1878 & State Senate 1910-1912.  He lived to see his son, Calvin, win election to the presidency in his own right in 1924 but died before that term ended.

**Porter Hinman Dale (1867-1933) was born in Island Pond, Vermont.  He was admitted to the bar in 1896 & served in the Vermont State Senate, the US House of Representatives (1915-1923) & the US Senate (1923-1933).


"Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), American President, Miller Center,

"Coolidge," by Amity Shlaes, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2013.

Calvin Coolidge 
Sworn in by John Coolidge
Portrait by Arthur I. Keller