90th Anniversary, Calvin Coolidge Swearing In,
Plymouth Notch, Vermont, Saturday, August 3, 2013
Jim Cooke
Fiddler on the front porch of the Coolidge Homestead
To mark the 90th anniversary of Calvin Coolidge becoming president upon the death of
Warren Harding, famed Calvin Coolidge interpreter Jim Cooke read excerpts from
Coolidge’s autobiography. Christopher Coolidge Jeter, Coolidge’s great-grandson,
performed as President Coolidge, Jenny Sayles Harville, Coolidge’s great-
granddaughter, performed as Grace Coolidge, Calvin’s wife. Author and historian
David Pietrusza performed as Coolidge's father Col. John Coolidge, who administered
the oath of office.

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge:

    On the night of August 2, 1923, I was awakened by my father coming up the stairs
    calling my name. I noticed that his voice trembled. As the only times I had ever
    observed that before were when death had visited our family, I knew that
    something of the gravest nature had occurred.

    His emotion was partly due to the knowledge that a man whom he had met and
    liked was gone, partly to the feeling that must possess all of our citizens when the
    life of their President is taken from them.

    But he must have been moved also by the thought of the many sacrifices he had
    made to place me where I was, the twenty-five-mile drives in storms and in zero
    weather over our mountain roads to carry me to the academy and all the
    tenderness and care he had lavished upon me in the thirty-eight years since the
    death of my mother in the hope that I might sometime rise to a position of
    importance, which he now saw realized.

    He had been the first to address me as President of the United States. It was the
    culmination of the lifelong desire of a father for the success of his son.

    He placed in my hands an official report and told me that President Harding had
    just passed away. My wife and I at once dressed.

    Before leaving the room I knelt down and, with, the same prayer with which I have
    since approached the altar of the church, asked God to bless the American
    people and give me power to serve them.

    My first thought was to express my sympathy for those who had been bereaved
    and after that was done to attempt to reassure the country with the knowledge that
    I proposed no sweeping displacement of the men then in office and that there
    were to be no violent changes in the administration of affairs. As soon as I had
    dispatched a telegram to Mrs. Harding, I therefore issued a short public statement
    declaratory of that purpose.

    Meantime, I had been examining the Constitution to determine what might be
    necessary for qualifying by taking the oath of office. It is not clear that
    any additional oath is required beyond what is taken by the Vice-President when
    he is sworn into office. It is the same form as that taken by the President.

    Having found this form in the Constitution I had it set up on the typewriter and the
    oath was administered by my father in his capacity as a notary public, an office he
    had held for a great many years.

    The oath was taken in what we always called the sitting room by the light of the
    kerosene lamp, which was the most modern form of lighting that had then reached
    the neighborhood. The Bible which had belonged to my mother lay on the table at
    my hand. It was not officially used, as it is not the practice in Vermont or
    Massachusetts to use a Bible in connection with the administration of an oath.

    Besides my father and myself, there were present my wife, Senator Dale, who
    happened to be stopping a few miles away, my stenographer, and my chauffeur.
Jim Cooke on the Steps of the Union Church
The Coolidge Homestead
Rendering of the actual August 3, 1923 swearing-in by artist Arthur Keller
Fiddler Adam Boyce
David Harville, Jenny Sayles Harville, David Pietrusza, Christopher Coolidge
Jeter, Terry Gulick, and Jim Cooke
David Harville, Jenny Sayles Harville, David Pietrusza, Christopher Coolidge