One of the two Presidents of the United States that were born in Vermont took the oath of office one hundred years ago Thursday. Calvin Coolidge — to be exact, John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. — is the only U.S. president to date to be sworn in by his own father.
He was sworn in at John, Sr.’s homestead in Plymouth, which is now the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. Officials at the site held a re-enactment Thursday afternoon.
Chris Jeter is Calvin Coolidge’s great-grandson. Dan Percy drove two hours south from his home in Williston to watch Jeter play the president in the re-enactment.
“It just brings back memories of my father bringing me down here when I was a lad and hearing his stories about Calvin Coolidge,” Percy said. “Because he was from Springfield, Mass.”
Coolidge spent his adult life in Northampton, Massachusetts, which isn’t far from Springfield. However, Vice President Coolidge was in Plymouth to visit his father when President Warren Harding died on the West Coast.
“Col. Coolidge was awakened around midnight when Winfred Perkins came up from Bridgewater, which was where the nearest telegraph office was, with the information about President Harding’s death in San Francisco,” former Gov. Jim Douglas said.
John Calvin Coolidge, Sr. held the rank of colonel from his service on Gov. William Stickney’s military staff just after the turn of the century. He was also a former lawmaker in both the Vermont House and Senate. As a notary public, he administered the presidential oath of office to his own son.
Douglas played John Coolidge, Sr. in the re-enactment. The former governor is a longtime board member of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation.
“I don’t think I should give up my day job,” Douglas joked. “But one thing the foundation has done since long before I got involved is re-enact the lamplight homestead inauguration.”
Percy wanted to visit at least two other locations while he was in Plymouth.
“Yeah, I wanted to go up and hit the sugar woods,” he said. “And pay tribute to (Calvin Coolidge) at his gravesite.”
A re-enactment also took place at the homestead at 2:47 a.m. Thursday — exactly 100 years, to the minute, after President Coolidge was sworn in.
On Saturday, both the inauguration and the memorial service hosted in Plymouth for President Harding will be re-enacted. The Harding memorial service re-enactment will be at 11:30 a.m. and the reprise of Coolidge’s inauguration will be at 2:47 p.m.