Press contact: Guy Lamolinara, Library of Congress (202) 707-9217; Stefan Pollack, National Notary Association (310) 556-4443
Public contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

July 22, 2010

Calvin Coolidge Is Focus of Discussion on Civility in Politics

“Why Coolidge Matters” Book to Be Discussed

Published by the National Notary Association, "Why Coolidge Matters: How Civility in Politics Can Bring a Nation Together" is a compilation of essays by influential political figures, scholars and historians that makes the compelling case for revisiting and learning from the moral tenor and style that defined the Coolidge presidency.

The book is the subject of a Books & Beyond discussion and book-signing on Tuesday, Aug. 3, at noon in the Mumford Room, on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the Center for the Book, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Co-sponsors are the National Notary Association (NNA) and the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.

Gov. James Douglas of Vermont and Milton G. Valera, president of the NNA, are among those who will address the legacy of Coolidge, who was a Republican, as the nation’s 30th president. A special guest is Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who will also make remarks.

The 21 essays in "Why Coolidge Matters" reflect a common denominator: the Coolidge presidency’s civility, integrity, even-handedness and scrupulous attention to propriety – qualities that provide much wisdom that is worth making use of today. For example:

  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) notes that, for Republicans and Democrats, Coolidge was able to restore faith in the office of the presidency and in politics generally, most notably after the many controversies of the Warren G. Harding administration (including the Teapot Dome scandal)
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis points out Coolidge’s strong support of the leaders of organized labor
  • Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R-Conn.) emphasizes the example set by Coolidge in never maligning his opponents
  • Historian and archivist Jerry Wallace turns to Coolidge’s forte in making government work efficiently, effectively and economically
  • Author and presidential scholar Alvin Felzenberg focuses on the number of times Coolidge used his "bully pulpit" to appeal for racial and religious tolerance.

The relevancy of the Coolidge presidency was destined to come to the attention of the National Notary Association, for Coolidge holds the unique distinction of being the only U.S. president to have been sworn into office by a notary public. Following the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding, Coolidge had to forgo the pomp and circumstance of the official swearing-in ceremony of a new president, traditionally conducted on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and instead took the oath of office in the living room of his family farm in Plymouth Notch, Vt., administered by a notary public, who also happened to be the new president’s father, John. At 2:30 a.m., on Aug. 3, 1923, John Calvin Coolidge Jr. officially became the 30th president of the United States.

"Why Coolidge Matters" is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard. A presentation on the Coolidge era is available on the Library’s American Memory website at

The Center for the Book ( was established by Congress in 1977 "to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries." With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center also oversees the new website, with its exclusive "Exquisite Corpse Adventure" serialized story.

Established in 1957, the National Notary Association is the leading authority on the American Notary office and is dedicated to educating, serving and advocating for the nation’s 4.8 million notaries. The NNA imparts comprehensive notarial knowledge and understanding, and bolsters consumer protection by promoting best practices. The association’s high-demand professional programs, services, model legislation and technology initiatives help notaries advance their careers and serve the American public with the highest level of professionalism and ethics. For more information, visit, (external link).

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PR 10-167
ISSN 0731-3527

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