President Coolidge Decides Not to Run (August 1927)

Figure 1.--Here President Calvin Coolidge receives a gift from the Boy Scouts in 1928. Notice both boys are new Eagle Scouts. The President was extremely popular. If he had wanted it he could easily have received tge Republican nomination and would have won the election with the same resounding margin Hoover achieved. Less clear is why Coolidge declined to run.

President Coolidge proved to be a very popular president. The Republican nomination was his for the asking. Very few presidents have been denied the nomintionof their party for a second term. And Coolidge was a popular president. The President was perhaps best known for a dry Yankee wit. Unlike msny presidents, he was not verbose. His short, terse statements became legendary. Mrs. Coolidge delighted in telling a story about a bubbly young woman sitting next to the President at a dinner party. She explined to the President that she had made a bet that she could get at least three words out of him in conversation. He didn't blink an eye and replied, "You lose." Few presidents had turned down a sure second term. It is unclear when and why Collidge decided aginst a second term. Coolidge never explained his decesion. Historians speculate about why he decided not to run. Some have posited that economists had warned him that there were potential economic problems developing and he did not want to have to be the president to deal with them. That sounds far fethched, but it is possible. A more plausible explnation is personal issues. Coolidge had known personal tragedy as youth. Some relatives died while he was quite young. This included his mother and sister. And his younger son, Calvin, died of blood poisoning at the White House (1924). Although given his laconic personality, it was difficult to tell, his son's death had a deep impact on him. One author write,'part of him seemed to die at the same time'. Some believed it was at this time that he decided not to seek a second term, although he did not announce his decesion at that time. While vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he issued the most famous of his famous laconic statements (August 2, 1927). It read simply, "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." Most Republicans were startled. They were sure that he was going to run. This suddenly threw the Republican nomination wide open. Some authors believe that he secretly hoped that the Party would demand that he would run again. Most Republicans, however, accepted his announcement and the race was on. Some organized a draft Coolidge effort and because of the President's populrity, he had to actively discourage it.


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Created: 3:08 AM 1/18/2012
Last updated: 3:08 AM 1/18/2012