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grace good-hue coolidge

Grace Coolidge

[koo-lij]

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge (January 3, 1879July 8, 1957) was wife of Calvin Coolidge and First Lady of the United States from 1923 to 1929.

Biography

Grace Goodhue grew up in the city of Burlington, Vermont, the only child of steamship inspector Andrew Issaclar Goodhue (1848 – 1923) and Lemira Barrett Goodhue (1849 – 1929). She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 where she was a charter member of the Vermont Beta chapter of Pi Beta Phi Women's Fraternity. She went to teach at the Clarke School for the Deaf after graduation, a school she had heard about since a child.

In Northampton she met Calvin Coolidge; where they belonged to the same boating, picnicking, whist-club set, composed largely of members of the local Congregational Church. In October 1905 they were married at her parents' home. They lived modestly; they moved into half of a duplex two weeks before their first son John Coolidge was born, and she budgeted expenses well within the income of a struggling small-town lawyer.

To Grace Coolidge may be credited a full share in her husband's rise in politics. She worked hard, kept up appearances, took her part in town activities, attended her church, and offset his shyness with a gay friendliness. She bore a second son, named Calvin Jr. in 1908, and it was she who played backyard baseball with the boys. As Coolidge was rising to the office of governor, the family kept the duplex; he rented a dollar-and-a-half room in Boston and came home on weekends.

In 1921, as wife of the Vice President, Grace Coolidge went from her housewife's routine into Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital.

First Lady

After Harding's death and Calvin Coolidge's succession to the Presidency, she planned the new administration's social life as her husband wanted it: unpretentious but dignified. As she wrote later, she was "I, and yet, not I--this was the wife of the President of the United States and she took precedence over me...." Under the sorrow of her younger son's sudden death at 16 (after he was playing tennis with his brother John on the White House grounds, got a blister which became infected), she never let grief interfere with her duties as First Lady. Tact and gaiety made her one of the most popular hostesses of the White House, and she left Washington in 1929 with the country's respect and love. She received a gold medal from the National Institute of Social Science. In 1931 she was voted one of America's twelve greatest living women.

Later life

For greater privacy in Northampton, the Coolidges bought "The Beeches," a large house with spacious grounds. Calvin Coolidge died there in 1933. He had summed up their marriage in his Autobiography: "For almost a quarter of a century she was borne with my infirmities, and I have rejoiced in her graces." After his death she sold The Beeches, bought a smaller house, and in time undertook new ventures she had longed to try: her first airplane ride, her first trip to Europe. She kept her aversion to publicity and her sense of fun until her death in 1957 at the age of 78. Her chief activity as she grew older was serving as a trustee of the Clarke School.

References

External links

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