First inauguration of Calvin Coolidge

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First Presidential Inauguration of Calvin Coolidge
Date August 3, 1923; 99 years ago (1923-08-03) (Private ceremony)
Location Coolidge Homestead, Plymouth Notch, Vermont
Participants President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge
Assuming office
Notary public, John Calvin Coolidge Sr.
Administering oath

The first inauguration of Calvin Coolidge as the 30th President of the United States occurred in the parlor of his family home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont on August 3, 1923, following the death of Warren G. Harding just over halfway into his term. President Harding had died the previous evening in San Francisco, California, while on a speaking tour.


Vice President Coolidge was visiting his family homestead in Vermont, which did not have electricity or a telephone, when he received word by messenger of Harding's death.[1] As the new president, Coolidge intended to take the oath of office and greet reporters who had assembled outside. He dressed in an upstairs bedroom, said a prayer, and came downstairs.[1]

In front of a small group of observers, including Coolidge's wife Grace and United States Representative Porter H. Dale, his father, John Calvin Coolidge, Sr., a Vermont notary public and justice of the peace,[2] administered the oath of office. The swearing in took place in John Coolidge's family parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923; President Coolidge then went back to bed.

Dale was campaigning for the United States Senate when he heard of Harding's death. He traveled to John Coolidge's home to ensure that Calvin Coolidge was informed and to offer his assistance. By most accounts, it was Dale who suggested persistently that Calvin Coolidge be sworn in immediately to ensure continuity in the presidency. Dale later wrote an account of this event which was published as a magazine article.[3][4][5]

Coolidge returned to Washington the next day, and Justice Adolph A. Hoehling, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia administered the oath a second time, as there was a question about whether a state notary public had the authority to administer the federal presidential oath.[6][7] The United States Constitution requires the President to take an oath at the beginning of his term, but it does not identify the person or officer who is to administer the oath.[8] (It is traditional for the Chief Justice of the United States to administer the oath, but that is not a constitutional requirement. When George Washington was sworn in on April 30, 1789, neither the Supreme Court nor any other part of the federal judiciary had been created. The oath was administered by Robert Livingston, a New York state judicial officer.)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fuess, Claude M., "Calvin Coolidge: The Man from Vermont," Little, Brown, 1940, 308–309
  3. Bill Harris, The First Ladies Fact Book, 2012, page 456
  4. Glenn D. Kittler, Hail to the Chief!: The Inauguration Days of our Presidents, 1965, page 167
  5. Porter H. Dale, The Calvin Coolidge Inauguration Revisited: An Eyewitness Account by Congressman Porter H. Dale, republished in Vermont History magazine, 1994, Volume 62, pages 214-222
  6. Fuess, 310–315
  7. Greenberg, David (2007). Calvin Coolidge: The 30th President, 1923-1929. Macmillan. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-0-8050-6957-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. U.S. Const. art. II, s. 1

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