Calvin Coolidge had been Vice President of the United States under Warren G. Harding for two years and five months, when, suddenly, he became the 30th President of the United States upon Harding’s death.
Coolidge also became the sixth President to succeed to the office due to the death of the incumbent President. Also, he became the second President to be elected to the office after succeeding his President in the White House.
Coolidge would serve five years and seven months in office, choosing not to run in 1928, with some thinking he sensed the Great Depression was coming, and wished to leave the Presidency at that time, to avoid having to deal with what became the worst economic collapse in the nation’s history.
Instead, his successor, Herbert Hoover, would gain the ire and hatred of millions of Americans, who would give Hoover a resounding defeat for reelection, and leading to a political transformation, with the Democratic Party, after decades of being in the “wilderness” benefiting from the Great Depression, and becoming the majority party in voter registration and loyalties.
It is now believed by many scholars that Coolidge chose to leave because of the clear cut effect of his son, Calvin, Jr’s, death in 1924, which seemed to have transformed his personality, from one of gregariousness to one of withdrawal in most public situations. Looking back now, it is amazing how Coolidge continued his run for a full term in 1924, and lasted another four years, before finally choosing to enter retirement, as the loss of his son clearly put him into a state of depression.
The effect of his son’s death, however, may also have contributed to Coolidge’s early demise, as he died after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt over Herbert Hoover, but before Hoover left office.
Only James K. Polk, Chester Alan Arthur and Woodrow Wilson had failed to survive their successor’s term in office, other than Coolidge.