Coolidge Chronology

Calvin Jr. Dies

“When he went the power and the glory of the Presidency went with him.” Who is Calvin Jr. and why is this death so dramatic? The nation is transfixed by the death of a sixteen year old son of a president in the White House. The son dies from a blister that brought on blood poisoning. The tragedy of that death haunts Calvin Coolidge and the rest of his family. “It has always seemed to me that the boy I lost was her image” referring to his mother. Calvin Jr. was a bookworm, according to his brother, and liked to trade jokes with his father. At five he had a serious illness and had surgery for empyema. Calvin and John spent summers visiting in Plymouth and helped with farm chores. Calvin, Jr. did labor in the tobacco fields near Northampton for two summers, but he was a thinker rather than a worker. At the fields, he found out that his father had become president and he kept on working. When questioned by another boy about not working due to the presidency of his father, he said, “If my father were your father, you would.” Since the boys were at Mercersburg Academy, when their father was vice president, they only saw their parents on vacations. Once Coolidge became president, the boys still visit only on vacations. In 1924, Calvin Jr. has one more year and takes the College Board Entrance Examinations and ranks very high. On Monday, June 30th, Calvin Jr. plays tennis with his brother John on the White House courts. He does not wear socks and gets a blister. As his condition worsens, the White House physicians come and diagnose blood poisoning. Calvin Jr. is operated upon at Walter Reed Hospital; despite agonizing pain and a raging fever, he is very brave and stoic. He dies July 7th; the nation mourns. The Democratic Convention adjourns out of respect for the family. There are services in Washington, Northampton, and Plymouth. He is buried beside four generations of his ancestors in Plymouth.

 Fischer, Calvin Coolidge, Jr.

The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge, p. 190.