Grace Coolidge: The People's Lady in Silent Cal's White House

Overview

When Grace Anna Goodhue wed Calvin Coolidge in 1905, she thought then that marriage "has seldom united two people of more vastly different temperaments and tastes." Warm and vivacious to her husband's dour and taciturn, Grace was to be a contrast to Calvin for years to come. But as Robert Ferrell shows, their marriage ensured her husband's rise to high office.

Ferrell focuses on Grace Coolidge's years in the White House, 1923-1929. Although the president did his best to rein her...

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Overview

When Grace Anna Goodhue wed Calvin Coolidge in 1905, she thought then that marriage "has seldom united two people of more vastly different temperaments and tastes." Warm and vivacious to her husband's dour and taciturn, Grace was to be a contrast to Calvin for years to come. But as Robert Ferrell shows, their marriage ensured her husband's rise to high office.

Ferrell focuses on Grace Coolidge's years in the White House, 1923-1929. Although the president did his best to rein her in—even forbidding her to speak on public issues—Grace quickly became one of the most popular and stylish of first ladies. Among the best-dressed women of her time (famously in red), she became the nation's fashion leader. She also opened the White House to the public, sponsored musicales within its walls, and worked on behalf of the deaf and disabled—all despite a less than supportive spouse. Ferrell recounts how she accomplished all of this, finding strength through the years in her Burlington background, her family, and her faith.

In this lively book Ferrell provides a perceptive and often moving account of Grace Coolidge. From his insightful portrait of her Vermont roots to a frank assessment of the Coolidges and their sons, he offers a fresh perspective on a much-admired woman who was perhaps her husband's greatest political asset.

Ferrell also takes readers inside Grace's strained marriage to the famously taciturn president who kept his wife in the dark about his plans, both political and personal. He offers a much more subtle look at the Coolidges and their relationship in the public eye than we've had, shedding new light on how she managed to deal with his irascibletemper—and how the marriage ultimately triumphed over difficulties that Calvin could not have handled alone.

Alternately charming and analytic, Ferrell's narrative will leave readers with the real sense of Grace Coolidge as a human being and a contributor to the historical legacy of presidential wives. For she did more than simply enliven a quiet White House—she set the tone for a nation and for first ladies to come.

This book is part of the Modern First Ladies series.

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What People Are Saying

Betty Boyd Caroli
A story that will intrigue--and enlighten. (Betty Boyd Caroli, author of First Ladies)
David Greenberg
More than any other biographer, Ferrell demonstrates how important Grace Coolidge was to her husband's career. She emerges in this account not only as sympathetic but also as significant. A magnet for press coverage, she was sensitive, stylish, much beloved, and nobody's fool. (David Greenberg, author of Calvin Coolidge)
Richard Norton Smith
Ferrell is a graceful stylist and a born storyteller. His Grace Coolidge would be a fascinating subject had she never been first lady--but as this wonderfully readable book makes clear, her husband was lucky, and her country luckier still, that she was. (Richard Norton Smith, author of An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover)
Betty Boyd Caroli

A story that will intrigue—and enlighten. (Betty Boyd Caroli, author of First Ladies)

David Greenberg

More than any other biographer, Ferrell demonstrates how important Grace Coolidge was to her husband's career. She emerges in this account not only as sympathetic but also as significant. A magnet for press coverage, she was sensitive, stylish, much beloved, and nobody's fool. (David Greenberg, author of Calvin Coolidge)

Richard Norton Smith

Ferrell is a graceful stylist and a born storyteller. His Grace Coolidge would be a fascinating subject had she never been first lady—but as this wonderfully readable book makes clear, her husband was lucky, and her country luckier still, that she was. (Richard Norton Smith, author of An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700615636
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 3/11/2008
  • Series: Modern First Ladies
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 811,437
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert H. Ferrell is author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Presidency of Calvin Coolidge; Woodrow Wilson and World War I; and most recently America's Deadliest Battle: Meuse-Argonne, 1918. He is emeritus professor of history at Indiana University.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Early Years 1

Ch. 2 Double Harness 27

Ch. 3 "She Took Precedence over Me": The New First Lady 57

Ch. 4 Public Events 77

Ch. 5 The Family 96

Ch. 6 Together, Alone 121

Ch. 7 Later Years 143

Notes 155

Bibliographic Essay 167

Index 177

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