A Coolidge Easter pictorial

The White House grounds were opened to throngs of children for the Easter Egg Roll in 1927 – the president did not take part in the rolling, but waved to his young visitors from a safe distance:

Mrs. Coolidge delighted the crowd by displaying her pet raccoon. Apparently, though, the raccoon failed to displace the Easter Bunny as a seasonal mascot:

A well-dressed couple, the Coolidges attended Easter Sunday services in 1927 (all photos from the digital archives of the Library of Congress):

The first radio Thanksgiving

Here’s a nice little post about our favorite president giving the first-ever presidential Thanksgiving address to be broadcast over radio on November 23, 1927 – a scant 84 years ago this Wednesday. As we know, Coolidge was the first president to really take advantage of what was then the booming new medium of radio; it might even be said that radio was the ideal medium for him: he was too unprepossessing and un-theatrical to have “made it” in either the preceding era of spellbinding orators with mesmerizing stage presence, or the later years of telegenic personalities suited to provide sound bites and glamour.

Why I Did Not Choose To Run

Coolidge admirers celebrated the 88th anniversary of his accession to the presidency this past week; almost unnoticed remained the 84th anniversary of his famous and somewhat cryptic statement the he “did not choose” to run for re-election in 1928, a statement he made while vacationing in South Dakota in August of 1927.

There was some debate at the time whether he meant what he said, or if the statement left open a door to being drafted at the 1928 GOP convention, but his biographers are in agreement that Coolidge did indeed mean what he said. In a Cosmopolitan article in 1929, Coolidge himself explained as follows:

His retirement was prompted more by an inner impulse of what is right than by specific facts. He chose the fourth anniversary of his taking office to issue his statement. While he felt that the no-third-term tradition did not apply to him, as he had come up from the vice presidency, he still felt that 10 years in the White House was too long for any one person. “It is difficult to conceive how one man can successfully serve the country for a term of more than eight years.” He sought to avoid the appearance of selfish “grasping for office.” Presidents, Coolidge remarked, “are always surrounded by worshipers. They are constantly … assured of their greatness. They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

Moreover, he felt the latter part of the adminstrations of two-term presidents often “showed very little in the way of constructive accomplishment” and were indeed “often clouded with grave disappointments.” These observations, coupled with his own desire to return to private life, Mr. Coolidge gave as his primary reasons for choosing to “retire voluntarily from the greatest experience that can come to mortal man.”

“We draw our presidents from the people,” wrote Citizen Coolidge. “It is a wholesome thing for them to return to the people. I came from them. I wish to be one of them again.”

This week in 1927

This week in 1927, president Coolidge was vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota in an attempt to escape the summertime heat of Washington, DC. Besides getting his hair cut by White House valet John Mays while sitting rather conspicuously on the porch of his lodge, Coolidge attended to business, some of which revolved around the farming situation. A delegation of North Dakota farmers informed him that contrary to popular opinion, the McNary-Haugen farm relief bill (which Coolidge adamantly opposed) was not a top concern, but rather the early completion of the Great Lakes/St.Lawrence waterway and the diversion of Missouri water to irrigate central North Dakota. And, attending a farmer rally in Ardmore, SD, the president listened but remained silent as Democratic governor Bulow assailed the “Republican tariff” which, if not repealed, would make necessary the sort of “artificial price-fixing” envisioned by McNary-Haugen.

During his vacation, Coolidge also fell for a harmless hoax:  his usual acknowledgement of meeting strangers while vacationing was to returns their greeting with a polite bow, and he did not not usually stop for a chat. He broke his rule, however, for the sake of a stranger encountered on the steps of the Rapid City High School, temporary White House office. The stranger wore a hat wider even than the President’s ten-gallon fishing headgear. In his silk shirt and flowing neckerchief clashed vivid colors. He wore high-heeled, embossed riding boots bearing the letters “PUT” in white just below each knee. Not even Hollywood could have produced a cowboy attired in more complete accordance with the traditions of his calling.

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