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Who Was Calvin Coolidge? Part 1

Recently, I took a dive into the life of America's 30th President, Calvin Coolidge. His name and his legacy is not one that I remember learning while in school; and that seems to be the case with most people I know.

I now know that the life and presidency of Calvin Coolidge is a hidden gem in our history, and his legacy deserves to be told.

John Calvin Coolidge was born on America's birthday, July 4, 1872. He was born in a small farming town in Vermont, and later moved to Massachusetts. From a very young age, Calvin learned the importance of hard work and also learned the inner workings of government. His father and grandfather were very involved in the community, holding public offices for much of their adult lives. Calvin remembers going with his father to collect taxes from those living in town, and came to a realization that, although they are sometimes necessary, heavy taxes would never benefit the public; they would, in fact, be a hinderance to all hard working citizens.

Calvin attended a one room schoolhouse till the age of 13, when he would go to Black River Academy in Ludlow, Vermont, several miles from where his family lived.

Calvin reminisced on his simple, small town life after leaving it for school, saying, "Country life does not always have breadth, but it has depth. It is neither artificial nor superficial, but is kept close to the realities."

Calvin quickly became very interested in government and Constitutional learning at school. He began studying the Constitution at the age of 13, and never stopped. Regarding the Constitution, he said, "...the more I study it the more I come to admire it, realizing that no other document devised by the hand of man ever brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. The good it has wrought can never be measured."

Calvin's education took him to Amherst, where studies were intense but life changing for him. His education included mandatory attendance of Sunday worship services, of which he said, "If attendance on these religious services ever harmed any of the men of my time I have never been informed of it. The good it did I believe was infinite... It broke down our selfishness, it conquered our resistance, it supplanted impulse, and finally it enthroned reason."

Charles Garman, head of the philosophy department, left a lasting impression on Coolidge, calling him “a man who walked with God.” He taught that the human mind was powerful, and should be used to distinguish right from wrong. Coolidge noted, “Above all we were taught to follow the truth whithersoever it might lead. We were warned that this would oftentimes be very difficult and result in much opposition, for there would be many who were not going that way, but if we pressed on steadfastly it was sure to yield the peaceable fruits of the mind. It does.”

Calvin Coolidge's love of education, truth, and the Constitution, along with his knowledge of government and law would propel his life in the direction of the White House, where he would become one of America’s greatest leaders.

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