Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

                    Grace Anna Goodhue was born on January 3, 1879, in Burlington, Vermont.  She was the only child born to her parents, Andrew Issaclar Goodhue, a mechanical engineer and steamboat inspector, and Lemira Barrett Goodhue.  She was of English ancestry, and she belonged to the Congregationalist Church.

                    Even though Grace was an only child and the center of her parents' attention, she was not spoiled due to her cheerful and sunny nature.  Andrew Goodhue was injured in an accident when Grace was about four years old, and she was sent to live with the Yale family for about a year.  June Yale, the older daughter, was teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts.  Grace became so interested in the deaf that she desired to teach them when she became an adult; she had a great, life-long interest in the deaf.

                    Grace graduated from Burlington High School in 1897 and began her studies at the University of Vermont in 1898.  She became a member of the glee club and was one of the founders of the Beta chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.  Grace lived with the Yale family in Northampton after her graduation in 1902 in order to teach classes at the Clarke School for the Deaf.  She was a lip reading instructor and taught both the lower and intermediate classes.

                    Grace was described as being about 5 feet 5 inches tall, with black hair, gray-green eyes, a winning smile, and a cheerful disposition.  She was in good physical health and enjoyed hiking and horseback riding. She was an avid sports fan, particularly baseball, and learned to throw a baseball better than most men she knew.  She dressed stylishly and wore bright, vibrant colors, particularly red. 
                    One day in the spring of 1905, Grace was watering flowers in the school yard and happened to look up at the open window of Robert N. Weir's boardinghouse.  She caught a glimpse of Calvin Coolidge, who was shaving while standing in front of a mirror in nothing but his long underwear and a hat.  When she burst out laughing at such a sight, he heard the noise and turned to look at her.  This was their first meeting, but they quickly became attracted to each other after a more formal introduction.

                    Calvin and Grace had a whirlwind courtship after their first meeting in the spring of 1905.  They became engaged in the summer when Coolidge declared, "I am going to be married to you" and Grace readily accepted.  Grace's mother objected to the engagement and tried to postpone the wedding.  On the other hand, Calvin's father, Colonel John Coolidge, was smitten with Grace.

Calvin was 33 years old, and Grace was 26 years old at the time of their marriage on October 4, 1905, at the home of the bride's parents in Burlington.  (This house is now owned by the Chaplain College and is known as the Coolidge House.)  The Reverend Edward A. Hungerford officiated at the small wedding attended by fifteen guests.  The newlyweds left for a two-week honeymoon to Montreal, Canada, but they came home a week early at the suggestion of Calvin and settled in Northampton.

Calvin never reconciled with his mother-in-law who later insisted that Grace was the reason for his political success.  According to historians, Grace should receive a full share of credit for her husband's rise in politics.  Whereas Calvin was a quiet, shy, and silent man, Grace was charming, friendly, and vivacious as well as being bright, intelligent, tactful, warm and witty.  She was a hard worker and kept up appearances; she also took part in town activities and was active in her church.  They shared a love of family, a quiet but strong faith, and an impish sense of humor.  They also shared an interest in how Grace dressed.  She liked to be well-dressed and preferred bright colors; he liked to see her in pretty clothes so much that he purchased them for her.  Grace had the ability to understand her husband and did not push her own ideas or become active in politics.  She never learned to drive a car because Calvin did not want her to do so.  Because her husband was so controlling, she developed a sense of resignation during their marriage.  She had great charisma and could have been a great leader except she was held back by her own passive nature as well as her controlling husband.

Calvin and Grace were parents of two boys, both of whom were named after their father, John Calvin Coolidge.   John (1906-2000) (a railroad and print company executive) and Calvin, Jr. (1908-1924) (died at age sixteen of blood poisoning from a blister on his toe).  When Calvin rose to the office of Governor, the family maintained their duplex while he rented a room in Boston for $1.50 and came home on weekends.

Grace was reared a Democrat but adopted the party of her husband.  She was "just" a homemaker (but poor cook) until she was thrust into the limelight when her husband was nominated for the office of Vice President in 1921.  She quickly went from her routine as a housewife to the most popular woman in the Washington society. 

After the death of President Warren G. Harding and Calvin's succession to the office of President, she planned an unpretentious but dignified social life - just as her husband desired.  She was a popular hostess, and in 1931 she was voted as one of America's twelve greatest women then living.  Calvin and Grace were particularly devoted to each other; however, he chose to never discuss state matters with her.  In fact, she didn't know that he had decided to not seek re-election in 1928 until he made his announcement to the press.

Calvin paid the following tribute to Grace in his autobiography:  "For almost a quarter of a century she has borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces."

The Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds in Northampton, in order to have privacy after they left the White House in 1929.  There Calvin died on January 5, 1933.  After her husband's death, Grace continued working on behalf of the deaf.  She was active in the Red Cross, civil defense, and scrap drives during World War II.  She continued to avoid publicity until her death on July 8, 1957, at age 78.  (Her son, John, believed that she died before midnight on July 7, the anniversary of the death of her younger son, Calvin, Jr.)  She is buried next to her husband in Plymouth, Vermont.

Facts for this blog came from here and here.  More information on Calvin Coolidge can be obtained herehere, or here.  


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