A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge

By William Allen White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
Our Hero Dwells in Marble Halls

HERE the story slows down. After that first self-reliant moment when the news of Harding's death flashed into the life of Calvin Coolidge, the tempo of his normal life began. He and Mrs. Coolidge dressed, and as they dressed, the Vice President decided what to do. His stenographer came up from Bridgewater in a car a few minutes behind the first telegraph messenger. The Vice President soon had a message on the way to Mrs. Harding. In an hour, Ludlow knew of Harding's death. The few reporters still lingering at Ludlow appeared about two o'clock. Telegraph linemen were tapping the telephone trunk line at Plymouth Union. At 2:30 the Vice President was talking to Secretary Hughes who advised him to come to Washington at once. It was Mr. Coolidge's idea--having a taste, if not for large drama at least for a homely cast of characters of the obvious sort--that his father, who was a Notary Public, should administer the oath which would make Calvin Coolidge President of the United States. So there in the little room, half living-room, half office, where Colonel John Coolidge kept his daily accounts and transacted his scant business, eight people saw a President inducted into office. What a beginning for the new President! How superbly he made his entrance into his role--the American classic--from poverty to the White House. The scene was so commonplace, so simple, that with one bizarre touch it might have been prepared as a travesty on democracy itself. Around the President and his father were Congressman Porter H. Dale, L. L. Lane, of Chester, President of the New England Division of the Railway Mail Association, Captain Daniel D. Barney, of Springfield, Vt., Herbert P. Thompson, Commander of the Springfield Post of the American Legion, Joseph H. Fountain, editor of the Springfield Reporter, Erwin C. Geisser, Mr. Coolidge's stenographer, and Joseph

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