John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923–1929). Soon after, he was elected as the 29th Vice President in 1920 and succeeded to the Presidency upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in 1923. He was elected in his own right in 1924.
Coolidge believed that government should interfere as little as possible with business and industry. His administration supported tax reductions for U.S. businesses as well as high protective tariffs in support of U.S. goods—which were being produced in greater quantities than ever before.
His 1923 State of the Union address to Congress was the first ever to be broadcast via radio. He would continue to use the medium effectively, giving at least one radio address per month.
Calvin Coolidge took the presidential oath of office on August 3, 1923, after the unexpected death in office of President Warren Harding. The new president inherited an administration plagued and discredited by corruption scandals. In the two remaining years of this term, Coolidge, long recognized for his own frugality and moderation, worked to restore the administration's image and regain the public’s trust.
His secretary of commerce, Herbert Hoover, forged a "new era" alliance between government and big business. Some said Coolidge's laissez-faire approach to financial markets encouraged the over-speculation that resulted in the stock market crash of 1929.
While practicing law in Northampton, Massachusetts, Coolidge began to climb the ladder of state politics. From a spot on the City Council in 1900, he became chairman of the Northampton Republican Committee in 1904 and joined the state legislature in 1907.
During Coolidge’s administration, the National Origins Act was passed, which established permanent immigration quotas. Also, the U.S. and 14 other nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which renounced war as a way of settling disputes.
His term as governor of Massachusetts placed him in the national arena just in time to benefit from the return to power of the Republicans at the end of World War I. As governor, he called in the state guard to break a strike by city police in Boston, claiming that "there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime." This bold action won him public acclaim and swept him onto the Republican ticket as the vice presidential nominee with Warren Harding.
He would probably have won a third term, but he declined to run, asserting, “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.” Instead, he chose to retire from politics and write.
The Vice-Presidency did not carry many official duties, but Coolidge was invited by President Harding to attend cabinet meetings, making him the first Vice President to do so. He gave speeches around the country, but none were especially noteworthy.
Coolidge retains this mystique because he reconciled two different strains of conservatism and two different factions of the Republican Party. His approval of the decade’s kinetic capitalism pleased Chamber of Commerce types. But economic growth also has a way of unleashing cultural change, and Coolidge’s flinty New England virtue reassured traditionalists worried about moral decay during a time of the “new woman” and the “new Negro,” of the Scopes trial and jazz.
As Vice-President, Coolidge and his vivacious wife Grace were invited to quite a few parties, where the legend of "Silent Cal" was born. As President, Coolidge's reputation as a quiet man continued.
He left office in March 1929, seven months before the crash. If he left no towering achievements as president, neither was he tarred by corrupt cronies or by a callous indifference to the plight of the destitute.