A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview
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Wherein Again Our Hero Creaks Through His Predestined Role of Cinderella

APPARENTLY Calvin Coolidge in 1910 ran for mayor of Northampton chiefly because he was unanimously nominated by the Republican city committee, known as "the organization," and was urged to run. It is likely however that his decade and a hall of Republican service made it possible for him to be sure that the committee's urge was strong enough to justify his acceptance. No one can doubt that he desired to be mayor. He was a young man in his late thirties. Ordinarily men become mayors in their forties and fifties. The escalator of Massachusetts politics whereon he rose was moving him steadily. Yet he could not have been wise enough in that day to know that promotion from one trivial office to another would make him President of the United States. Somewhat he wanted the office of mayor because he knew it would please his father.1 His father had been state senator in the Vermont legislature and an office-holder all his life. The young man knew that the father understood the value of a political coin which was stamped with the mayoralty. In fact, in his autobiography, Coolidge remarks that he celebrated his election by going to see his father who was serving a term as state senator in Montpelier, and adds:

"Of all the honors that have come to me, I still cherish in a very high place the confidence of my friends and neighbors in making me their mayor."

It sounds unreal. It is. He made himself mayor and then idealized his memories and forgot the realities. We may look at them without discrediting him. Ecce homo! a young man with the twinkle of a hangover adolescence in his eyes when he opened them wide, the father of two boys with

See "Autobiography."


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A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge
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