Biography on President Calvin Coolidge's wife, Grace Coolidge. She was a very popular first lady who did much to aid the deaf.
Grace Anna Goodhue was born in Burlington, Vermont on January 3, 1879. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1902 and began teaching at the Clarke School for the Deaf in Northhampton, Massachusetts. While in Northhampton she belonged to the same Congregational Church as Calvin Coolidge. In October, 1905, they were married at the Vermont home of her parents, Andrew and Lemira Goodhue.
To say that Calvin Coolidge dominated his wife is an understatement. Early in their marriage he was scheduled to speak at a church gathering and she got ready to accompany him. He advised her not to go, so she stayed at home and it was years before she heard him speak in public. Throughout their marriage Coolidge never allowed his wife to dance in public, drive a car, take a plane flight, have her hair bobbed, or wear culottes even when hiking.
Coolidge was also very tight with his money, except for one thing. He wanted his wife to wear pretty clothes. He accompanied her on shopping trips and never complained about the cost of her extensive wardrobe.
The Coolidges' first home was a duplex in Northhampton. As a Massachusetts legislator Coolidge commuted to Boston, coming home on weekends to stay with Grace and their two sons, Calvin Jr. and John. He was elected Governor of Massachusetts and then became vice president under Warren G. Harding in 1920.
Grace Coolidge became an important person on her own when they moved to the capital city. For the first time in their married life she was able to accompany her husband to dinners and ceremonies. Her fashionable good looks, her pleasing personality, and her ability to not speak out about people or policies made her the most popular woman in Washington, D.C. In contrast, her husband was nicknamed "Silent Cal" because of his inability to socialize with others.
When President Harding died suddenly, Vice President Coolidge became president in 1923. Grace Coolidge continued her policy of never discussing public issues or politics with her husband or friends, and never giving speeches. Instead, she rode in parades, planted trees, did volunteer work for the Red Cross and charities aiding the deaf, and graciously attended countless luncheons and dinners. One tragedy marred their stay in the White House; their 16 year old son, Calvin Jr., died of blood poisoning.
Calvin Coolidge died in 1933. For the first time in her life, Grace Coolidge was free to set her own agenda. She helped fundraising efforts for the Clarke School, traveled extensively throughout Europe, avidly followed the Boston Red Sox, and enjoyed visiting with son John and his family.
Grace Coolidge died on July 8, 1957, at her home in Northhampton. She and her husband are buried in a hillside cemetery in Plymouth Notch, Vermont beside their son, Calvin, Jr.