Journal of American Studies



Calvin Coolidge's Tragic Presidency: the Political Effects of Bereavement and Depression


ROBERT E. GILBERT a1
a1 Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

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Biographers commonly describe Calvin Coolidge as having had a sound, comfortable, supportive upbringing. Fuess writes, for example, that Coolidge's early life was “simple, wholesome and unfurtive.” White and McCoy point out that the Coolidges were “aristocrats” and that Calvin was “a young prince” who was “brought up in as much luxury as could be expected in Plymouth township.”. However, a close analysis suggests strongly that the childhood years of Calvin Coolidge were marked by great sadness and dislocation. He was an extraordinarily shy boy who had few friends and often was lonely. His father, John Coolidge, was frequently absent from the household, either because of his service in the Vermont state legislature or his various business activities. As Lynch and Kilmartin point out, a father who is physically or emotionally missing from his son's life leaves scars on the boy's psychological development.



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