Notice to readers of this blog

Dear readers,

it has been fun and interesting to keep up a more or less (lately the latter) steady stream of posts to this blog, and more than that, it has been a privilege to converse, and in some rare cases meet, with readers, many of whom are far more knowledgeable on all matters Coolidge than I could ever be.

While I still think we live in a time that is in sore need of some of the qualities that made Calvin Coolidge special, and while I believe we can profit from his wisdom today, pressing other commitments and far too many interests do not permit me to continue coming up with fresh material. In Coolidge’s own style, “I choose to not add any more new material.” Unlike Coolidge, I may yet reverse that decision some time in the future, and for the time being, the blog will remain active, as I feel it is important that there are as many fair and accurate sources on Coolidge to counter some of the misinformation that unfortunately is out there. I have followed with a great deal of admiration the contributions by Daniel Wright at his blog and would urge every one who does not already subscribe to The Importance of the Obvious to do so.

I thank everyone for their support, comments and input. As we approach, in a few days, the 90th anniversary of Calvin Coolidge’s ascension to the Presidency, I feel certain the stature and reputation of, and affection for, the 30th president will continue to grow.

Branding the Presidents

Detroit-based designer Meg Jannott has created a nice project of branding all U.S. presidents,  saying of the project,

This was created as a personal project to push myself creatively while also having the determination to keep up with a series of designs. I wanted to do something different and came up with branding the Presidents of the United States. With each one being unique, I thought that this might yield some interesting results.

I kind of like the one for Calvin Coolidge:

silent cal tumblras well as the fact that his “brand” is included in a composite image that The Design Observer posted on facebook:

branding the presidents

Niced work, Ms. Jannott!



C. Bascom Slemp

C. Bascom Slemp teeing up

C. Bascom Slemp teeing up

Thomas Mallon, in his New Yorker review of Amity Shlaes’ new Coolidge biography, gives C. Bascom Slemp, who was Coolidge’s personal secretary between August 1923 and January 1925, a cameo appearance, noting he “seems to have been named by Nathanael West.” Slemp, whose appointment to the secretarial post following Coolidge’s ascension to the Presidency came as a surprise to the Washington establishment, the press, and himself, was actually as powerful a figure in early 20th century Republican politics as a Southerner could be; in fact, he has been called the most influential Southerner in the GOP for the period from 1907 to 1932. He first came to national prominence as the only Republican Representative from Democratic Virginia, and it was first and foremost his remarkable success in fending off prominent Democrats that enabled him to maintain command of the party in the Ninth District. At the same time that he helmed the “real” and functioning Republican group in Southwest Virginia, he also reigned over what was basically a skeleton of an organization in the rest of the state. Mr. Slemp was shrewd, calculating, resourceful, and tireless in his campaigning, a master at the details of organization and mobilization. While he was on occasion implicated in questions of patronage (not unusual for either party, and made public usually for strictly partisan reasons), he proved himself a valuable ally to high Republican officeholders or -seekers, especially as his influence transcended the borders of Virginia. During convention time, he was able to swing other Southern delegations to his favorite candidate. Between 1908 and 1928, he unfailingly backed the winning regular GOP candidate, perhaps most importantly in the contested convention of 1912, when he delivered 20 of Virginia’s 24 delegates to William Howard Taft.

When Coolidge named Slemp his personal secretary, it was a surprise announcement, as everyone had been expecting Coolidge to retain Edward T. Clark who had been his secretary while Coolidge was vice president. Among important proponents of Slemp were Speaker of the House Frederick Gillett and Secretary of War John W. Weeks, and Coolidge’s choice of Slemp was an early indication that he fully intended to be the GOP nominee in 1924. Most observers agreed that Slemp would be an asset to Coolidge in what was then thought might well be an uphill fight. The Democratic National Committee issued a statement that the appointment was “tantamount to an official announcement that President Coolidge is a candidate for the presidential nomination in 1924,” and a “first step to round up the delegates from the Southern States.”

In hindsight, Coolidge’s nomination in 1924 appears a foregone conclusion, but in AUgust 1923 his selection seemed far from automatic, and in the days and weeks following the death of president Harding, several prominent Republicans were being mentioned ahead of Coolidge, among them Sen. Hiram Johnson, and Governors Lowden and Pinchot. As it turned out, Slemp did work assiduously for the Coolidge nomination but chafed at having to report to William M. Butler, who headed the pre-convention organization and eventually was named by Coolidge as national committee chairman. Butler ruled the convention with an iron hand, bruising old guard egos right and left. Slemp, for one, had sought to prevent the humiliation of Henry Cabot Lodge, but his appeals were brushed aside by Butler, and the two differed at every turn when it came to the selection of the vice-presidential nominee. Slemp volunteered his resignation three days after the convention, but Coolidge prevailed on him to stay on until the following January. Returning to Virginia (and Virginia politics), he was instrumental once more in delivering the state to Herbert Hoover in 1928, but subsequently his interest in politics waned – perhaps because he was disappointed at not being rewarded by either Coolidge or Hoover with a cabinet appointment. In addition, his poltical antennae were finely tuned, and by 1932 he was able to discern the handwriting on the wall that the Democrats were going to be in control of national and state politics for a number of years – so it seemed like the perfect time for Slemp to tender his resignation as national committeeman. Congressman Slemp retired from the practice of law and returned to his home in Virginia to look after farm, oil and coal interests. He also set up the Slemp Foundation which benefits libraries, schools, and colleges in Southwestern Virgina to this day. Slemp died, aged 72, in 1943. The C. Bascom Slemp Student Center at the University of Virginia Wise campus is named in his honor.

Fun Friday: Monstrous Presidents

Now I don’t know if I should be disappointed or relieved (probably the latter) that the makers of presidential monster toys didn’t include Calvin Coolidge in their lineup. Of course that lineup is heavily skewed to recent MPOTUSes, with only Abraham Lincoln, formerly vampire hunter, representing the more distant past.  Not scary enough? Or maybe they just couldn’t think of a horror genre for Silent Cal to represent?

Midgets for Coolidge

Interesting post! This gives the lie to the idea that Republicans don’t care for the little people.

Ghosts of DC

So, this is a bizarre one that I came across on Shorpy … a large group of midgets arrive in Washington to support President Calvin Coolidge.

I’m not making this up. It was reported in the Washington Post on January 20th, 1924.

The first organizing touring Coolidge Marching club to work for the nomination of the president, comes to Washington Sunday morning. It is composed of 23 European midgets, men and women artists, headed by I. S. Rose, New Englander and impresario.

The midgets wear buttons and ribbons on which is inscribed “Coolidge 1925.” Upon its arrival at the Washington Union station this morning, the club will execute a few simple evolutions before taking motors for its quarters in the northeast section.

The Rose midgets will wear their Coolidge emblems throughout their tour of thirty weeks. Henri Glauer, age 32, height 31 inches, explains it thusly: “If the President…

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Happy 140th Birthday, President Coolidge!


Painting of Calvin Coolidge, by Philip A. DeLaszlo

Whichever way this year’s presidential election turns out, it is virtually certain that Calvin Coolidge will for now retain his status as the only chief executive to have been born on the National Holiday. And as every year, we salute this great yet humble man, who so ably retained the virtues and qualities of his native New England, even the state of Vermont, as he ascended the political ladder. And this year, maybe more so than ever, we reflect on his legacy as a man of peace and prosperity and above all, sound finances, a legacy that will receive increased attention and, it is to be hoped, appreciation as the new biography nears publication.

Photoshop Phun

In their Photoshop Phriday rubric, invited its gang of skilled image manipulators recently to submit their ideas for “Bad-Ass Presidential Moments.

While a few of the more obviously bad-ass presidents (such as Richard Nixon or Barack Obama…wait, Barack Obama?) make multiple appearances, I was heartened to find our fave Calvin Coolidge also represented by two parodic efforts, which I’m happy to share here:





Illustration copyright and slightbutsteady


Illustration copyright and Phoenixan

More than Two Words: New Coolidge exhibit

What an exciting time to be a Calvin Coolidge fan! Not only is the publication date of Amity Shlaes’ all new biography approaching, but the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch VT will proudly inaugurate the likewise all-new interactive exhibit, More than Two Words: The Life and Legacy of Calvin Coolidge this coming Saturday, June 9.
Period newsreels, artifacts and audio recordings will bring to life the 30th president, the development of his personal and political philosophies and his compelling accomplishments.

A very modern and interactive-looking exhibit centering on Calvin Coolidge

Those lucky enough to live within, say, a 500-mile flight of Boston can join Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Coolidge family members and many people involved with the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation for a fun filled day with activities for children, chicken barbeque, wagon rides, music, crafts people and more, this coming Saturday, June 9, 2012, from 10:00 – 5:00

Check out for more info and updates.