Vice President Calvin Coolidge (left) shaking hands with Carmi Thompson. Thompson served as the treasurer of the United States (1912-1913).
Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4, 1872, in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. In 1895, he graduated from Amherst College and proceeded to enter the legal profession in Northampton, Massachusetts. Coolidge quickly pursued a political career as well, becoming a city councilman in Northampton. Over the next twenty years, the politician won election to numerous offices, including Northampton solicitor, clerk of courts, representative in the Massachusetts legislature, and mayor of Northampton.
In 1918, Coolidge, running as the Republican Party's candidate, secured election as Massachusetts's governor. As governor, Coolidge proved to be effective as a leader. He called out the Massachusetts State Guard to protect the city of Boston during a police strike. He received applause from across the nation for his handling of this situation and, as a result, received the Republican Party's nomination for Vice President of the United States in 1920. The Republican presidential candidate was Ohioan Warren Gamaliel Harding.
Harding and Coolidge won the presidential election of 1920 by approximately seven million votes. Scandals beset the Harding Administration, weakening the Republicans' grasp on Congress, where they held a majority of seats in both houses. Coolidge tried to distance himself from Harding, hoping not to destroy his political career. He chose to speak as few words as possible and earned the nickname "Silent Cal."
In 1923, Harding died unexpectedly, and Coolidge became president. He immediately set out to restore faith in the Republican Party by ending the scandals that beset Harding’s administration. His silence during the Harding administration actually assisted him in doing so. Many in the United States concluded that Coolidge was above reproach.
As president, Coolidge enjoyed an apparently booming economy. This was the period commonly known as the Roaring Twenties, and residents of the U.S., including Ohioans, seemed to be earning more money and having more luxurious products available to them than ever before. Because of this economic growth, Coolidge easily won the presidential election of 1924, winning by an even more substantial margin than Harding had done four years earlier.
Unfortunately for the U.S., Coolidge's policies helped contribute to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Coolidge preferred that the federal government take a laissez-faire approach, in which government doesn’t interfere with or regulate markets. While many groups prospered in the 1920s, others suffered, especially farmers. Coolidge refused to provide government assistance for farmers, causing a division within the Republican Party during his second term in office. Coolidge also failed to create banking restrictions. Due to bad investments on the part of banks, numerous people in the U.S. lost their life savings during the late 1920s and the 1930s, contributing to a weakened economy and the Great Depression.
In 1928, Coolidge chose not to run for reelection. The Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover as his replacement. Because the economy still seemed to be growing, Hoover won the election easily -- by six million votes. Coolidge retired from politics. He died on January 5, 1933, in Northampton.