Vermonters celebrate Calvin Coolidge on Presidents’ Day

Local News

Some Vermonters spent part of their Presidents’ Day celebrating Calvin Coolidge in Plymouth Notch.

“Coolidge was a quintessential Vermonter of his time,” said Matt Denhart, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation Executive Director.

Born in a small farmhouse on July 4th, 1872, Calvin Coolidge was instantly exposed to the inner workings of politics and local government.

“His father was sort of a jack of all trades in this village,” said Denhart. “He was the store-keeper, he was the constable, the tax collector and a member of the state legislature,” he said.

Coolidge left Vermont at the age of 19 to attend what was then – Amherst College in Massachusetts.

It’s there where he would develop an interest in law, becoming a lawyer before systematically entering the world of politics.

“He was eventually mayor of North Hampton, he served in the Massachusetts state senate, became president of the senate and later became lieutenant governor,” said Denhart.

100 years ago this year, the Vermont native became the 48th governor of Massachusetts and gained national attention in his handling of a police strike.

“He was nominated to run as vice-president along with Warren Hardin in the 1920 election, the return to normalcy won the day in 1920 and Coolidge became vice president,” said Denhart.

Three years later, while Coolidge was visiting his family in Plymouth Notch, President Warren G. Harding died unexpectedly in California.

“There were no photographers even present during the ceremony that happened at 2:47 in the morning on August 3, 1923,” said William Jenney, Vermont Historic Sites Regional Administrator.

“Coolidge talks about this painting in his autobiography and he says it is historically accurate but the likenesses are not very good,” he said.

The village in which Coolidge was born and later sworn in as president by his father is often referred to as one of the well-kept historic sites in the country.

“This town froze in time and thousands of people started coming here almost on a daily basis,” said Jenney. “The next summer he had his summer white house here,” he said.

On Monday, the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation hosted a presentation, featuring a re-enactment of a speech he gave about Abraham Lincoln. 

Asked what a Coolidge presidency in 2019 would look like, Denhart said, “We can probably say for certain is he would wake up and see the national debt… He was known for being a very disciplined New Englander, he was very thrifty and frugal.”

Coolidge is not the only Vermonter to reach the White House. Chester Arthur was born in Fairfield, and served as the 21st president.

The President Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center is open year round in Plymouth Notch. The historic site in its entirety is fully open from May to October.

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