Calvin Coolidge, by reputation the quietest of presidents, quietly passed away on January 5, 1933 – 80 years ago this Saturday. In last year’s post on this date, I quoted one of his biographers on the events of that morning. The following quote is how Mrs. Coolidge’s biographer tells it:
Mrs. Coolidge returned from her morning’s shopping shortly after noon on January 5, 1933. The Beeches [the Coolidge’s house in Northampton] was coated in ice. The trees were gaunt with winter hoar. She went upstairs to summon her husband for lunch and found that he was dead. He lay on his back in his shirt sleeves in his dressing-room and his face had a peaceful expression. She knelt beside him and saw at once that he was gone. She ran down to the landing and called to Harry Ross, Mr. Coolidge’s secretary: “My husband is dead.” […]
January 5 is a day of remembrance for fans and admirers of Calvin Coolidge, for it was on this day in 1933 that the former president unexpectedly passed away; he was only 60 years old. Here is how William Allen White describes the events of that day in “A Puritan in Babylon”:
It was a fine day, an open winter day, January 5, 1933, in Northampton. Calvin Coolidge rose, went about his daily chores, neglected to shave before breakfast. Breakfast usually punctilious – was on the tick of the tock. And at nine o’clock he went downtown to his office. He stayed there for a time, perhaps an hour, doing odd jobs, attending to the routine of his office work and business duties, then he rose and said casually to his associate that he was not feeling very well and that he thought he would go home. Just that.
At home he sat down for a while, apparently reading. Mrs. Coolidge had gone into downtown for her morning’s shopping. Some casual errand attracted him to the basement. He went down, passed the man of all work there with a brusque “Good morning, Robert,” and climbed the two flights of stairs up to his bedroom. At noon he remembered he had not shaved and went upstairs, took off his coat, got out his shaving tools and then – no one knows exactly what happened. When Mrs. Coolidge came in she called cheerfully to him as was her wont, but when there was no answer she went to the second floor to put away her wraps and there, face downward on the floor she found his lifeless body. He who had lived aloof, died alone.
RIP, Calvin Coolidge 1872 – 1933