The Museum That Was Vermont
CALVIN COOLIDGE was born July 4, 1872, at Plymouth, Vermont. In that sentence lies the embryo biography of the man who governed America during a golden age. The time and the place were environing circumstances which as much as his blood, perhaps even more than his blood, determined the kind of a man the thirtieth President of the United States would be between 1923 and 1929. It is, therefore, essential to consider here and now this environment: first, July 4, 1872; second, Plymouth, Vermont.
The American Civil War was seven years past on July 4, 1872. The Union soldiers of that war, who were to wield most of the power in their country and to enjoy all the glory for the next quarter of a century, had turned their swords into plowshares. These soldiers were scattered over the land from Maine to California. The hand of fate luring these young men across the land was sifting them like fruit through sizing meshes. They fell into thousands of communities--into towns, farms, cities, seafaring villages, industrial centers, isolated ranches, proud suburbs, and ugly slums. The place where they fell determined their way of life. If they fell into the Ohio Valley, they became the builders of a strange, new industrial civilization where farms had been when they marched out under Lincoln's call. If they fell beyond the Mississippi on the prairies and the high plains sloping toward the Rockies, they became pioneers struggling with the soil, building a rural civilization where the buffalo and the Indian had roamed while the young soldiers were fighting the war. if these soldiers sifted by fate fell eastward of the Alleghenies, for the most part they fell into an industrial civilization more intensely unified than the new country in the Middle States. But all of them, across the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific, were controlled by a genie that had come newly into the world--