4066G THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-RECONSTRUCTION PERIOD.
the cooperation of all those who have been
associated with the President during his
term of office. Those who have given their
efforts to assist him I wish to retain in
office that they may assist me. I have
faith that God will direct the destinies of
Mr. Coolidge expressed a wish that the
oath of office should be administered to
him by his father, who was a notary public.
The ceremony took place at 2.37 a. m. in a
simple room of the modest farmhouse, by
the flickering light of a kerosene lamp, and
in the presence of two or three newspaper
men, who had motored out in the night.
Comparatively little was known by the
general public of the man thus suddenly
called to the helm of state. He was born at
Plymouth, Vermont, July 4, 1872, of old
New England stock. In a speech made to
neighbors after his nomination for the Vice-Presidency he had said: "Vermont is my
birthright. Here one gets close to nature;
in the mountains, in the brooks, the waters
of which hurry to the sea; in the lakes,
shining like silver in their green setting;
in the fields tilled not by machinery, but by
the brain and hand of man. My folks are
happy and contented. They belong to
themselves, live within their income, and
fear no man."
Young Coolidge attended the village
school, the Black River Academy at Ludlow, the academy at St. Johnsbury, and
Amherst College, and received the degree of
A. B. cum laude from the last mentioned
institution in 1895. In his senior year he
won first place in a competition open to
students of all colleges with an essay on
"The Principles for Which the Revolution
He began the study of law in an office at
Northampton, Massachusetts, and was
admitted to the bar in 1897. He soon
entered politics and was successively a
member of the city council, county clerk,
state representative, mayor, state senator,
President of the Senate, Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts, and Governor in
1919 and 1920. As Governor, by his firm
handling of a police strike in Boston, he
won national attention, and when it was
deemed desirable by the Republican National Convention in 1920 to nominate an
eastern man for the Vice-Presidency, he
was the man chosen.
Most men familiar with his career emphasize his "luck," his practical turn of
mind, and his taciturnity. A Boston
editor writes of him:
"Now 'Cal is President. We have
faith in him. He has grown much in
twenty years. His full stature lies still in
the future. Responsibility, it is true, has
never yet made demands beyond his
capacity. But that vast leap to the Presidency! Will he make good in the White
House? We hope, and believe, he will.
'Duty' to him is the biggest word in the
language save one-'service.' We read his
speeches and bracket those words together.
There is no derision in our mimicry of his
style of speech. He puzzles us, but he is not
inscrutable. He is silent as a Trappist
monk, but on occasion he speaks more
effectively than most men of many words.
He is as unobtrusive as a second violin in
an orchestra, but he sees all there is to see
and asserts himself when necessary. Nobody slaps him on the back, but almost
everybody likes him. Exuberant flamboyancy subsides, abashed in his presence.
He never forgets. He keeps his word and
expects other men to keep theirs. Look at
him merely as one in a room full of public
men and he is the last you would consider
as a man of destiny. Yet he has run for
many offices and never been defeated; he
has dealt with emergencies and increased
his fame by his action; he has played to no
gallery; yet he fills a great place in the
popular imagination. . . .
"In the fall of 1903 Calvin Coolidge
entered the Legislature from Northampton.
He brought a letter from a prominent
judge to the speaker of the house. It read:
'Dear John, look after this young man.
Like the singed cat, he is better than he
looks.' That first term he spoke from the
floor only once, a very few remarks on a
small matter. He promptly established a
reputation for keeping still. He looked on
and held his tongue; he always voted and
always appeared for the opening prayer.