Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (1879-1957)

Grace Coolidge
Figure 1.--This November 1, 1925 press photo was headed, "Mrs. Coolidge attends 'Peter Pan'. The caption read, "Above is pictured Mrs. Calvin Coolidge as she was received by a company of Bpy Scouts for the private showing of 'Peter Pan', presented for the benefit of the Girl Scouts drive. Mrs. Coolidge is honary president of the Girl Scouts."

Grace Goodhue was born in 1879. She was raised in Burlington, Vermont. This was the largest town in the Green Mountains. Her parents were Andrew and Lemira B. Goodhue. Her father was a mechanical engineer and steamboat inspector. Grace was an only child and endulged by her loving parents, but perhaps because of outgoing personality never becane spoiled. Her father was injured in an accident when Grace was only about 4 years old. She went to stay with family friends--the Yales for almost a year. Grace was ena,ored by the older Yale daughter, June, who taught at the Clarke School for the Deaf. It began a life-long interest in teaching and a special interest in teaching deaf children. Grace graduated from Burlington High School (1897). She went on to the University of Vermont where she graduated (1902). She got a job teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was at Northampton that she met Calvin Coolidge, young lawyer just beginning his practice. They moved in the same social set (boating, picnicking, and whist playing club) and both went to the Congregational Church. They married a few years later at her parent's home (1905). The young couple moved into a modest duplex. Soon their first son arrived. Like a number of future first ladies, she played an important role in her husband's political career. Her husband was shy and aloof, not the best personality for an aspiring politican. Grace was in constrast a bubly personality who helped maked friends. She plunged into community life, actively participated in church affairs, and maintained asocial life that helped Coolidge make friends. Their second son arrived (1908). More than likely it was Grace who would be found playing baseball with the boys in the backyard. As Coolidge's legal and political career developed, they countinued to live in their modest duplex. Coolidge was elected Massachusetts govenor (19??). Grace and the boys stayed in Northampton when Coolidge went to Boston. He rented a room fir $1.50 during the week and came home every weekend. Coolidge's selection as vice president meant that Grace Coolidge who was essentially a well educated small-town housewife was transported into the middle of the Washington social swirl (1921). She was an immediate success. Her outgoing personality and modest simplicity charmed Washington. The Coolidges continued to live modestly, but Mrs. Coolidge did like to dress well. She enjoyed her dog Rob Roy. After a very short time as the vice-president's wife, President Harding died unexpectedly. This propelled her Husband into the White House and she became first lady. She was responsible for the President's official entertaining. He wanted it to be dignified, but unpretentious and that is what Mrs. Coolidge gave him. The Coolidges were rocked by the death of their younger son at only age 16 (1924). Neither let the tragedy interfere with their official duties. She was throughout her term as First Lady the most popular hostesses in Washington. One of her public duties was the honary president of the Girl Scouts. Er're not sure how active she was. When the Coolidges left Washington was one of the most respected an admired women in the contry. The Coolidges moved back to Northampton (1929). They bought a larger home--"The Beeches". It was a larger house with ample grounds which provided the Coolidges greater privacy. President Coolidge died (1933). The President with his usual bent for getting to the point had describe their marriage, "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." [C. Coolidge] Mrs. Coolidge sold The Beeches and purchased a small house. She embarked in some new adventures. She took an airplane flight. She traveled to Europe. She stayed out of the public eye. Her major public service was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School. She ramined close to her son and his family. She passed away (1957).

Sources

Coolidge, Calvin. Autobiography.







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Created: 7:13 PM 7/13/2008
Last changed: 7:13 PM 7/13/2008