When people think of the best US presidents, the same names usually come up. Lincoln. FDR. Martin Sheen. But people are stupid. The greatest president of all time was none other than our 30th: the illustrious... the industrious... Calvin Coolidge.
In order to prove such things, Thrillist's Historical Investigations Squad took time out from getting sued by Christopher Columbus's relatives to take a deeper look at a man someone once called "almost alarmingly quiet". And from those weeks spent looking in World Books, and Asking Jeeves, here are the ten most compelling reasons everyone should be instagramming tweets about "Silent Cal":
1. He is the only US President born on Independence Day.
His due date was, like, three months earlier or something, but his mom just LOVED AMERICA, so she dealt with it. Meanwhile, during those extra three months in the womb, Coolidge taught himself rudimentary Mandarin.
2. He became a lawyer without ever going to law school.
Dude went to Amherst for undergrad, and joined the Phi Gamma Delta frat, which people refer to as Fiji, because they have "islander"-themed parties and bring in banana trees for decoration. It's crazy. Anyway, after graduating from Amherst and tiring of banana-tree parties, Coolidge apprenticed with the law firm Hammond & Field in Northampton, MA instead of going to law school, saving himself literally hundreds of hundreds of dollars on LSAT prep classes. Also, that was apparently something you could do and still be a lawyer, so… take note, Mike Ross from USA Network's hit series Suits!
3. He was inherently sexy.
His wife, Grace Anna Goodhue, was the daughter of a Vermont steamboat inspector and a teacher at a school for the deaf. She first saw him when she was watering flowers, and he was obviously standing in front of a mirror shaving in nothing but long underwear and a hat. This is actually, shockingly, true. And dude must've looked great in those undies, because they married two years later.
Cal's Clever Quips Part 1: Once they married, Cal handed Grace a bag full of 52 pairs of socks, all of them containing holes. Grace looked at the bag and said, "Did you marry me to darn your socks?" Cal, without smiling, replied, "No, but I find it mighty handy." Oh snap, Cal! No you didn't!!!
4. He had a million jobs.
Well, not literally, because that would be one job every 3.4min of his life, and voters would likely see that as irresponsible, but over the course of the 22yrs before he was Vice President, he was: on the City Committee in Northampton, then the City Council, then he was City Solicitor, then a state house rep in MA, then mayor of Northampton, then State Senator, then Lt. Governor, then Governor. He also lost a school board election somewhere in there, but this is a positive piece, and plus there was a lot of corruption in school board elections in Western MA back then... so forget about that! The fix was in!
Cal's Clever Quips Part 2: From a popular speech he gave as President of the State Senate, titled Have Faith in Massachusetts: "Expect to be called a stand-patter, but don't be a stand-patter."
5. His nickname is awesome.
As most people know from hilarious stand-up comedy routines written by people Carlos Mencia steals jokes from, the Vice President doesn't do much. In fact, when Harding invited Coolidge to sit in on cabinet meetings, he was the first VP to ever do that, and that's, like, the only task the VP has on his Google Calendar nowadays, so you can imagine how bored he was. To pass time, he would go to rich people parties in Washington to eat free Lobster Thermidors and stare people in the mouth, but he never ever talked, so people started calling him "Silent Cal". Now allow us to pause and appreciate more quips.
Cal's Clever Quips Part 3: Allegedly, Dorothy Parker, while seated next to him at a dinner, told Cal: "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." To which Coolidge replied, "You lose." Much later on, Dorothy Parker found out she'd been played, White Men Can't Jump-style.
6. His father swore him in as president.
President Harding, while out on a speaking tour, died suddenly. Because he almost literally had nothing to do, Coolidge was at home in Vermont, at a typical Vermont house with neither electricity nor a telephone, and so he got word via one of those Game of Thrones ravens or something. Upon hearing he was now the most powerful man in the world, Cal got dressed and went downstairs, where his father -- a notary public -- administered the oath of office in his den by kerosene lamp in front of a few reporters. Then Coolidge went back to bed.
7. He has something awesome named after him.
And this has to just be a straight Wikipedia quote: "In biology and psychology, the Coolidge effect is a phenomenon—seen in nearly every mammalian species in which it has been tested whereby males (and to a lesser extent females) exhibit renewed sexual interest if introduced to new receptive sexual partners, even after refusing sex from prior but still available sexual partners."
Ethologist Frank A. Beach is credited with naming the "Coolidge effect" in 1955, after one of his students suggested the term at a psychology conference. He attributed the neologism to an old joke about Calvin Coolidge when he was President.
Which leads to Cal's Clever Quips Part 4: The President and Mrs. Coolidge were being shown [separately] around an experimental government farm. When [Mrs. Coolidge] came to the chicken yard she noticed that a rooster was mating very frequently. She asked the attendant how often that happened and was told, “Dozens of times each day.” Mrs. Coolidge said, “Tell that to the President when he comes by.” Upon being told, President asked, “Same hen every time?” The reply was, “Oh, no, Mr. President, a different hen every time.” President: “Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge.”
8. He made American Indians US Citizens.
In 1924, Cal signed the Indian Citizenship Act, finally giving Native Americans the right to vote and be US Citizens while retaining tribal lands so eventually they could build casinos and have Reba McEntire perform at them. So that's a win-win for America.
9. He talked shit about Hoover.
Cal's Clever Quips Part 5: Coolidge, in speaking about not wanting Hoover to be his successor: "for 6yrs that man has given me unsolicited advice -- all of it bad."
10. He didn't outstay his welcome.
While on vacation in South Dakota, which he made his "Summer White House" (something you could apparently do back then), he issued a statement saying "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." Instead, he and Grace went back to Northampton so he could write his memoirs and a syndicated newspaper column, (possibly ironically) titled "Calvin Coolidge Says." Meanwhile, Hoover became President and faced the Great Depression, beginning "a decade of high unemployment, poverty, low profits, deflation, plunging farm incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth and personal advancement". Coolidge, for the win!
Bonus Clever Quip from Guest Quipper Dorothy Parker: Upon hearing that Coolidge had died suddenly in 1933 of a heart attack, Dorothy Parker reportedly remarked, "How can they tell?", further proving that, after Silent Cal and President Martin Sheen, Dorothy Parker was the third most awesome person ever.
Published: February 22, 2013 at 12:01am EST
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